Calgary stabbing: Students gather at University of Calgary to mourn victims

Hundreds of students gathered at the University of Calgary campus to mourn five young people stabbed to death early Tuesday morning.

Victims of house party stabbing were students of University of Calgary and Alberta College of Art and Design

Students signed a flag of condolences at a University of Calgary vigil Tuesday afternoon. (CBC)

Hundreds of students gathered at the University of Calgary to mourn five young people stabbed to death.

Among those at the emotional community gathering in MacEwan Hall Tuesday afternoon were students, staff and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

"We're going to make it through this. We're strong. We're strong because we have each other," Nenshi said.

Hundreds gathered for a vigil in the University of Calgary's MacEwan Hall following the stabbing deaths of five young people in a rented home near the campus. (Devin Heroux/CBC)

Students signed a flag of condolence and speakers urged them to take care of themselves and make use of the resources available, such as the campus Wellness Centre.

"You might feel alone right now, but look at this room. Let's come together as a community," said student president Raphael Jacob.

University president Elizabeth Cannon told the gathering that she has received messages of support from across the country.

“I think the key message today is to make sure that you take care of yourself, that you reach out for support, that you take care of those around, because this is a test of our community.”

Exams will go ahead next week, but Cannon says the university will consider deferring in some cases.

"Absolutely we will entertain deferred exams for those who need it and we'll look at that in a case-by-case basis, but all the information is up on our website to ensure that those who feel they need to defer an exam are given the support that they need to help make that happen."

Jordan Fabro attended the memorial because he was close friends with four of the five victims.

“My friend group is going through a bit of a tough time right now. I knew I had to come to this today. Some of my friends that are going through this are out of town, in the country, going through finals, going to school right now. I am one of the few that could make it to this memorial for them.”

Matthew de Grood, who attended the university, has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder. Four men and a woman died following the early-morning stabbings in the city’s Brentwood neighbourhood, just north of the campus.

According to neighbours, people at a house had been celebrating the last day of university classes with a fire in the backyard. 

Bermuda Shorts Day (BSD) festivities to mark the end of the University of Calgary’s winter semester have been a campus tradition since 1960.

Susan Anderson, editor of the student newspaper the Gauntlet, says there is usually a lot of drinking on BSD, but the day has always been a positive part of university life.

“Everyone's friends, right. You just invite anyone to your party, you know, it's a strong bonding day for the school … but now it’s been very, very tragically marked,” she said. 

Josh Hunter and Zackariah Rathwell have been identified as two of the victims. Hunter was a business student at the University of Calgary. Rathwell was a first-year student at ACAD, a Calgary arts college.

Also killed were Kaitlin Perras, Jordan Segura, and Lawrence Hong.