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.

 

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

SEAPARC picks design for leisure complex expansion in Sooke

Construction expected to start in February

Son of missing Oak Bay woman asks for continued public support

‘Because she is still out there, somewhere’

Death-penalty decision delayed for alleged cold-case killer

William Talbott is charged here in the 1987 slaying of a young Victoria-area couple

BCAM slated to get one of last remainng Lancaster bombers

Approval seems certain despite emotional Torontonian appeals

Group pushing to preserve Saanich Hydro land as park

Neighbours petitioning to buy surplus land on Kings Road

Here’s what you need to know about Day 1 at the BC Games

All 18 events kick off on the track, riding ring, fields, courts and lake in the Cowichan Valley

Site C dam project plagued by problems: expert

E. Harvey Elwin expresses concern about internal BC Hydro and government documents

Five fun things to do this weekend

From a paint in to festivals, there are lots of fun events taking place this weekend

Seal attacks kayakers in the Broughton Archipelago

“It has to be one chance in a million of this happening.”

Special Olympic athletes take on BC Games during special anniversary

Known as the Global Day of Inclusion, July 20 marks the first Special Olympics in 1968 in Chicago

Fundraiser to help mom of jogger detained after crossing U.S. border

Cedella Roman, 19, was held in U.S. after accidentally crossing border in South Surrey

Okanagan Wildfires: The latest on wildfires and evacuations

A Friday morning look at the major wildfires impact the Okanagan and Similkameen.

UPDATED: 1,500 residents on evacuation alert as Peachland under state of emergency

The Mount Eneas wildfire has forced an evacuation alert of 596 properties

UPDATED: Remains of all eight Bruce McArthur victims now identified, Toronto police say

McArthur worked as a landscaper and allegedly concealed the remains of several men in planters

Most Read