'There's no comfort yet': Hundreds gather, march at vigil for Christine Wood

Hundreds gathered for vigil on Wednesday honouring a 21-year-old woman who police say was killed in Winnipeg last summer.

Christine Wood, 21, disappeared in Winnipeg in August 2016

Christine Wood vigil begins in Winnipeg

6 years ago
Duration 1:22
A vigil is underway in Winnipeg for Christine Wood. It began at St. Mary's Parish on Burrows Avenue, steps from where police say the 21-year-old was killed

They searched for Christine Wood for months, but George Wood says the hardest times are just beginning for his family after news that his daughter was killed.

"It's been a long search for us but, you know, it's even harder now that we've got the news that she's no longer with us. She's been taken away from us," Wood told the community members and supporters gathered at a vigil for his daughter in Winnipeg on Wednesday afternoon.

Melinda Wood weeps as she attends a walk for her daughter Christine with her husband George Wood, left, and Winnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth, right. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)
Hundreds gathered at the vigil, which began at 4 p.m. at St. Mary's Parish, near the Burrows Avenue house where police believe Christine Wood was killed hours after she was last seen on Aug. 19, 2016.

Earlier this month, police arrested Brett Ronald Overby, 30, of Winnipeg and charged him with Christine Wood's murder.

Police have not located Christine Wood's body.

"The hardest part is that we haven't, there's no — there's no comfort yet … There's no body," George Wood said Wednesday.

"I just hope whoever this person is — and I'm not going to waste my words labelling him — I'm just going to say, I just hope he does the right thing, to say where [he] put her body."

During a march for Christine Wood, Byron Wood holds a photo of his sister as his parents Melinda and George stop outside the house where police believe Wood was killed. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)
Wednesday's vigil was attended by Winnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak, NDP MLA Nahanni Fontaine, and members of the Bear Clan Patrol. 

"We, just like any other parent, had hopes for our daughter, just like anybody else here in the city have hopes for their kids," Wood told reporters at the event.

"Just like people that work in these big tall buildings here and people that walk down the street here in this neighbourhood, they have hopes for their kids, ambitions for their kids."

"We had the same thing when we let our daughter come to the city for education. But somehow, you know, that's how the city is, I guess, sometimes. It just swallows up people."

The vigil at the church was followed by a two-hour memorial at Thunderbird House on Main Street. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

The Winnipeg vigil was organized by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, the Bear Clan Patrol, and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak. The groups have been involved with Wood's family since her disappearance.

After the vigil on Burrows, the crowd marched down Main Street, led by George Wood, his wife Melinda and the couple's three sons, who held a banner featuring Christine's picture. During the 20-minute march, some passing cars honked in support.
The ceremony was attended by friends, family and community members. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

Derek Nepinak, grand chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, told the crowd many Indigenous families know too well the sorrow the Woods feel.

"I remember a time when I was a little boy when we buried my aunt back home on Pine Creek Indian reserve, because her life was taken [in Winnipeg]," Nepinak said.

"There was a time when nobody talked about people that we lost in these cities, and our families are still in a lot of pain."

Winnipeg police Chief Danny Smyth expressed his condolences to the Woods.

"My heart goes out to you. I'm sorry for your loss," he said.

"This investigation was especially important to me because you were guests in this city when this happened and we just couldn't stand by and watch that."

Last weekend, the community in Oxford House First Nation also gathered for a vigil for Wood and another resident.

The ceremony for Wood finished with a memorial at Thunderbird House on Main Street.

People living on the Oxford House First Nation in Manitoba gathered last weekend to remember Christine Wood and a young man who died in the community. (Catherine Summer-Weenusk)

With files from CBC's Caroline Barghout, The Canadian Press