Regional Director, Mike Hicks, acted as the MC at the Celebration of Life forCory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen. (Tiom Collins - Sooke News Mirror)

More than 1,000 attend celebration of life for men who died in Sooke River

Celebration of Life gives Sooke a chance to grieve

A celebration of life was held Friday for Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and Anthony (A.J.) Jensen, the three young men whose lives were cut short on Jan. 31 after the truck they were travelling was swept into the Sooke River.

RELATED: Story emerged

RELATED: Sooke grieves

More than 1,000 friends, family, and Sooke residents arrived early at Edward Milne Community School for the ceremony, filling the parking lot an hour before the doors were scheduled to open.

Once the ceremony began, the school theatre was overflowing with people. The overflow crowd was sent to the school gym where a large screen TV was set up to allow for a live streaming of the event.

“I think that everyone in Sooke who could be here is here,” Mayor Maja Tait said.

“If they aren’t here physically, they are certainly here in spirit. The entire community is grieving.”

That grief was evident when the families of the young men took to the stage in turn to speak about each of their loved ones.

Eric Blackmore’s father, William McInnes, and his mother, Shannon Green McInnes, spoke through tears about Eric, about his loves and enthusiasm, and how he had made the life of everyone around him much richer.

Cory Mills was remembered as a young man with a love of the outdoors and a “goofy personality” that made him special to everyone he knew.

A.J. Jensen had a passion for food and lacrosse and was remembered as someone who loved to laugh and to be laughed at.

Carol Rittaler, girlfriend to Jensen’s father, said the three young men brought out the best in the community.

“I really believe that they’re going to be remembered, in part, for the way that they brought the entire community together when they disappeared,” Rittaler said.

“This event will help to provide some closure and help the community to move on as well.”

The ceremony saw T’Souke First Nation Chief Gordon Planes and Elder Shirley Alphonse give a traditional blessing for the men.

Planes spoke about the deep loss to the community, but observed that while he was talking, a “great rainbow” had appeared in the sky above the school.

“In our tradition, that shows that they are here with us today … watching us,” Planes said.

Jesse Roper, a well-known musician with deep roots in the community, made his way back to Sooke from out of province appearances to play at the celebration of life.

Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director Mike Hicks knew the young men well, and served as MC for the celebration of life.

“The importance of this event is that it gives everyone a chance to learn about the boys, shed some tears, and support the families,” Hicks said.



tim.collins@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Sooke

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

 

Jesse Roper appeared as a special musical guest at the Celebration of Life forCory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen. (Tim Collins - Sooke News Mirror)

A display celebrating the lives ofCory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen left many who attended the Celebration of Life for the three men in tears. (Tim Collins - Sooke News Mirror)

The Celebration of Life for Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen left many in tears as the community met to grief and celebrate three special young men. (Tim collins - Sooke News Mirror)

Just Posted

Mental Health: Stigma leads to a life on the streets

People with severe mental illness disproportionately impacted by homelessness

COVID-19: Immigrants face language, financial barriers during crisis

Citizenship events halted, permanent residency applications still being processed

Saanich police pull over 16 drivers over for excessive speeding over the last 30 days

Police implore drivers to be cautious, avoid risks to themselves and others

Victoria police safely recover items stolen from Sikh temple

A man broke into the Khalsa Diwan Society Victoria and stole religious and ceremonial items

Victoria police seek information on nine suspicious fires

The fires took place between March 5 and April 9 across Victoria and Esquimalt

COVID-19 death toll reaches 50 in B.C., while daily case count steadies

B.C. records 34 new cases in the province, bringing total active confirmed cases to 462

B.C. unveils $5M for mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

Will include virtual clinics and resources for British Columbians, including front-line workers

VIDEO: Community rallies around Campbell River fire victims

Emergency Social Services volunteers logged over 100 hours in first day after fire

B.C.’s COVID-19 rent supplement starts taking applications

$300 to $500 to landlords for April, May and June if eligible

Reality TV show about bodybuilders still filming in Okanagan, amid COVID-19

Five bodybuilders from across the country flew to Kelowna to move into a house for a reality TV show

B.C.’s top doctor details prescription for safe long weekend

Yes, it includes hosting an online cooking show

BC SPCA seeks help for abandoned German shepherd puppies

Donations have ‘petered out’ as doors are closed due to COVID-19

Most Read