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

It’s been 20 years since the death of Victoria teen Reena Virk

An event is being held today in her memory at Kosapsom Park as groups come together to honour her

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)

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

Just Posted

Victoria’s plastic bag ban quashed by Supreme Court decision

City’s leave to appeal lower court’s decision denied

Victoria man charged after dog killed

Brandon Norman Bartlett, 39, faces one charge of killing or injuring an animal

Sidney cadet takes home gold at South Island Zone biathlon

‘Rising star’ sets her sights on provincials

Royal BC Museum’s Woolly the Mammoth turns 40 years old

The museum is hosting a party on Jan. 26

Prices for recreational marijuana in B.C. down from a year ago

New inflation figures show gasoline, housing and certain kinds of food cost more

B.C.-based firefighting plane crashes in Australia, killing three

Three people are confirmed dead in the crash in New South Wales

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Veteran B.C. journalist battles cancer through pioneering immunotherapy treatment

Vancouver Island rallies around JR Rardon and family during stay in Seattle

New nasal spray launched in Canada to combat hypoglycemic shock in diabetics

Baqsimi is a nasal spray contains three milligrams of glucagon

B.C. RCMP spent roughly $750K on massive manhunt for Port Alberni men

Manitoba RCMP helped with 17-day search through the province’s northern terrain

Island Bakery in Cobble Hill to close

Cobble Hill store in business since 1982

Man killed by police in Lytton called 911, asking to be shot: RCMP

Howard Schantz, also known as Barry Schantz was killed following a standoff at his Lytton home

Canadian public health agencies ramping up preparations in response to new virus

Health officials have said there are no confirmed cases of the emerging coronavirus in Canada

Most Read