The Craigflower bridge site where Reena Virk was murdered. (Black Pressfile photo)

Today marks 20-year anniversary of Victoria teen’s murder

An event is being held today in the memory of Reena Virk, who was murdered 20 years ago in Victoria

It’s a tragedy that still evokes heartbreaking memories after 20 years.

Reena Virk was swarmed by a group of mainly girls under the Craigflower Bridge on Nov. 14, 1997. Two of her attackers – Kelly Ellard and Warren Glowatski – followed her along the shoreline where they continued the beating and held Reena’s head under the water until she drowned. The 14-year-old Saanich girl’s body was discovered eight days later farther up the Gorge Waterway.

“I believe that the murder of Reena Virk had such a deep impact on the entire community that the healing and the recovery from it is ongoing,” said Rachel Calder, executive director of Artemis Place Society.

To mark the 20th anniversary of Reena’s death, Artimis Place Society and Learning Through Loss have organized an event Nov. 14 at the heritage Craigflower Schoolhouse in Kosapsom Park. Remembering Reena: A Community’s Commitment to Nonviolence will get underway at 1 p.m. featuring a number of speakers including Reena’s father, Manjit Virk, and Education Minister Rob Fleming.

“I believe that holding it at the place where Reena was killed creates a very powerful experience. And I think the trauma of her death there is still felt there. I know myself and many people say every time they drive over that bridge, they remember it,” said Calder. “I think gathering at the place of her murder can add a layer of healing and a new story to that place.”

Organizers hope to honour Reena’s life and memory by creating a space for continued learning and conversation.

“We wanted to contribute to a different narrative on how to actually provide healing opportunities to youth who may be both victims and perpetrators,” said Shauna Janz, executive director of Learning Through Loss.

Janz points to a study that found up to 87 per cent of youth in the criminal justice system experienced a big loss in their life and didn’t have the support or resources around to properly deal with it.

“We recognize that oftentimes people who are perpetuating violence, it’s because that’s what they have a lived experience of or they have some kind of traumatic loss,” she said. “How can we contribute to non-violence by providing healing opportunities so that youth can make healthy, life-affirming choices?”

Calder said she hopes the event will also spark a discussion on inclusion, something Reena was desperately seeking.

“How could we have created a community that was more inclusive, where she felt she belonged and also that she was safe?” said Calder. “I’m hoping in her honour and in her memory, we can impact the community to create a more inclusive and a more safe place for all of our young people.”

The groups are also asking for people to show their commitment to safe and inclusive communities on social media by using the hashtags: #iremember #reena and #icommit2nonviolence.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

An event will be held Nov. 14 to mark the 20th anniversary of Reena Virk’s murder. (Handout photo)

Manjit Virk and wife Suman at their home with Reena’s parrot Smooch and a DVD about Reena. Black Press file photo

Just Posted

More than 100 apartments for seniors approved in Nanaimo’s hospital area

Development permit issued for 1125 Seafield Cres.

Outreach team making connections with young people experiencing homelessness in Nanaimo

Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre youth advisory council initiative offers ‘no-barrier’ help downtown

Alzheimer’s society offering online support for caregivers in Nanaimo

Webinars explore ‘mindfulness’ in caring for dementia patients

Shopping resumes aboard Nanaimo ferry sailings

B.C. Ferries reopens gift shops on Queen of Cowichan and Queen of Oak Bay

City of Nanaimo reports on its salaries, expenses and payments

Municipality files statement of financial information with B.C. government

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

Nanaimo RCMP want speeding motorists to ‘slow the blazes down’

Police raise alarm after seeing 400-per cent rise in excessive speeding tickets last month

City of Nanaimo takes inventory of its land for official community plan review

Report recommends high-density residential development, identifies shortage of industrial land

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

VIU faculty members looking at COVID-19 impacts on communities

Vancouver Island University’s research award committee funds nine projects

Comox Valley RCMP looking for missing woman

Ami Guthrie was last seen in Courtenay in early July

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

Vancouver Island business ad unintentionally features OK gesture linked to white supremacy

Innocuous ‘OK’ gesture in cleaning franchise advertisement gets flak on social media for ‘supposedly’ promoting white supremacy

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Most Read