Final steps retraced: Vigil held for Edmonton girl killed in assault
'A person with a heart like hers didn't deserve this violence'
Drumming and candlelight filled the darkness as friends and family gathered on Thursday night to honour the life of 13-year-old Sierra Chalifoux-Thompson.
With the wailing melody of traditional drummers to accompany them, the crowd marched through the streets of central Edmonton, retracing her final steps.
"I'm pretty sure my niece is probably smiling down and proud of everything we have done for her today," her aunt, Fran Chalifoux, told the crowd, her voice breaking.
"And that she knows that she loved, that she was loved ever since she was born and that we are definitely going to miss her so much."
More than 100 people gathered to pray and hold a moment of silence in the place where Chalifoux-Thompson was fatally injured.
"This vigil, it's for everyone one to come together and help our family mourn in the tragedy of losing her, of losing someone so young to something so violent," Chalifoux said.
"A person with a heart like hers didn't deserve this violence."
Chalifoux-Thompson died on Friday after police were called to an assault in the area of 75th Street and Mount Lawn Road in the Eastwood neighbourhood.
Officers arrived around 11 p.m. and found the girl suffering from serious injuries. She later died in hospital.
Three days later, a youth was charged with second-degree murder in her death. The accused cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
On Friday, police released the autopsy results from the Edmonton Medical Examiner.
Chalifoux-Thomspon died of a stab wound, police said in the news release.
On Thursday night, the anguish of the mourners was still raw, her death incomprehensible to those who knew her.
"When I first heard it, I couldn't believe it," Chalifoux said. "I said no, it has to be wrong. It was just devastating, I couldn't believe it. I didn't want to and I still don't want to."
She urged other witnesses to come forward.
"To the people that were with my niece that night, I wish the rest of them would come forward. We still want justice."
Once her body is released, the family wants to bring her home to High Prairie.
It has been hard to explain the tragedy to the youngest members of their large, tight-knit family. Her youngest siblings have been told simply that she has gone to heaven.
Chalifoux said it's hard to reconcile the violence of her niece's death with the sweet girl she knew.
Chalifoux-Thompson — who often went by her nicknames Brownie and Cece — loved music, drawing, watching anime, skateboarding or riding around on her BMX.
She had just started Grade 8 at Cardinal Leger Junior High School and recently took up singing.
The once shy child was becoming a strong and bold young woman.
"She just turned 13 but she was starting to get into different things and come out of the nest a bit," Chalifoux said.
"She was vibrant, she loved to laugh. There are not enough words to describe her."
With files from Trevor Wilson