Hundreds of Thunder Bay residents held candles and stood in silence outside city hall Thursday night to protest violent crime and show support for the family of an eight-year-old girl who recently died in a domestic assault.
Brandi Wingert, who died Monday, was very much on the mind of vigil participant Ramona Paterson. She said she wanted to show that Thunder Bay isn't as bad as some people are making it out to be.
"After hearing about the tragedy on Monday I just felt it was important to come out and show that there are good people in our town and our city isn't as bad as everyone is saying right now and to show support for the family,” she said.
"There's a lot of posts on Facebook lately that the city is going down and we're now the murder capital of Canada ... but I also think there's so many good people here and it's great to see so many people come out and stand together.”
'A lot of good people here'
Deputy Police Chief Andrew Hay estimated that up to 600 people attended the event. During a march, streams of people stretched for blocks down Dease and May streets.
Mike Keeper didn't know Brandi Wingert or her family, but he carried a sign in her honour.
"It just says 'for all the angels' and it's for all the people that have lost their lives due to violence and it needs to stop."
Keeper said violence seems to be getting worse in Thunder Bay, but he wanted to show there are lots of good people here too.
"I think a lot of people come out because they're trying to show people that there are a lot of good people here," he continued.
'They're not alone'
Close to 20 bikers also got together last night for a motorcycle procession.
Biker Kerri Boone said Thunder Bay is a close-knit community and they want to send a message to residents.
"If something bad happens, don't ever feel that you're alone. You have people that you can call on and there's no catch.”
Boone said the bikers would travel from the north end of town to the Wingert's Donald Street home.
"We're going to light candles, we're going to say a prayer — just show our support and just let them know that they're not alone," she said, through tears.
Boone said she feels Wingert's death hit her hard because Boone is also a mother.
"It was so unnecessary and unjustified and it doesn't seem fair ... because ... they'll never be the same.”