Members of Edmonton's Liberian community are still visibly shaken two days after three pillars of their tight-knit community were killed in a car crash near Lloydminster, Sask.
More than 100 friends and family mourned at The Solid Rock International Ministries of Edmonton on Sunday during the church's first service since Glorious Blamo, 35, Eva Fatu Tumbay, 37, and Jeanette Wright, 53, were killed when their minivan collided with a stolen truck.
A fourth woman, 32-year-old Janet Wright Gaye, is still in hospital.
Glorious Blamo's husband, Glory Blamo, is the pastor of the church. The two started the church together in Edmonton. In the front row of the church, there are two distinguished chairs for the Blamos to sit in. Glorious Blamo's was covered with a black sheet.
"It's very difficult to see the seat of my wife covered in black," Blamo said Sunday. "Very, very difficult."
The service was filled with music and emotion, some of which brought several family and friends to their knees. Several women fainted, overcome with the loss of three important members of their community.
there's so much emotion here. pic.twitter.com/OZqZ3yGxhv— @kylemuzyka
'We'll come together'
The three women were driving to Minnesota Friday to visit family when a stolen truck hit their minivan. RCMP had called off the chase of the stolen vehicle earlier due to safety concerns.
Combined, the three women leave behind 10 children and one grandchild.
"It's a huge loss for the community," said Thomas Bumbeh, the president of the Liberia Friendship Society. "Especially when the three individuals are the ones that the community counts on in so many areas."
Bumbeh said the three women would offer support for not only community members and children but also for outsiders from the community who seek help.
It was only fitting that when the greater Edmonton community heard that three pillars of the tight-knit Liberian community were killed, they stepped up to help.
"We started getting the support from the day we heard the news," Blamo said.
Rod Barks, a regional director for the greater community of churches Solid Rock belongs to, flew into Edmonton Sunday morning from Toronto to be at the service. He said it was important for him to show support in person.
"I think we can use our words all we want, but our true heart connection is when we show up," Barks said Sunday. "We want the Liberian community to know that we stand in solidarity with them."
And as church members stood beside the grieving family, members of the Liberian community embraced one another, wrapping their arms around each other while they sang hymns in unison.
"That's why the community exists, it's about unity. And that's why we're promoting our community regardless of the challenge," Bumbeh said. "In fact, the more challenge we have, the more we'll come together."