Nfld. & Labrador

Christmas for Cortney Lake: Family holds tree lighting for lost loved one

Despite the sad reason behind the gathering, Cortney Lake's family wanted everybody's help to celebrate the season.

Celebration brought together family, general public to honour memory of 24-year-old

Christmas is hard for the family of Cortney Lake, but they smiled through sadness and sang carols to celebrate the season on Monday night.

The loved ones of the woman believed to have been murdered pulled together support from friends and strangers during a tree-lighting in her honour.

It's the second year for the event at St. David's Park in Mount Pearl, after Lake went missing on June 7, 2017. Shortly after the 24-year-old mother's disappearance, police said she was murdered.

But her remains have yet to be found and no criminal charges have ever been laid.

"It was her favourite time of year," said her mother, Lisa Lake. "We're coping. Every day is a struggle but we have to go on. Every day is a hope and a wish."

Purple lights illuminate a tree at St. David's Park in Mount Pearl. Purple was Cortney Lake's favourite colour. It is also the colour for prevention of violence against women initiatives. (CBC)

The biggest wish is for her body to be found, so she can be brought home for a proper burial. Lake said she's never given up hope and the searches continue.

"I don't say if I find her, I say when I find her ... our searching is far from over."

With the holiday season bringing memories of their loved one, it can be especially difficult — but family members say they've found a positive in the happy faces of the carolers who come to the tree lighting.

Donna Walsh lost her niece, Cortney Lake, to a suspected homicide on June 7, 2017. Her remains have never been found. (CBC)

"It's a hard time of year leading up to Christmas," said Donna Walsh, Cortney Lake's aunt. "You think back to the last year and a half and our hearts are heavy, you know? We're missing Cortney terribly." 

Nobody in the family has given up the fight to find her, Walsh said, and they'll continue holding on to the memories of who she was.

"We must go on. We celebrate Christmas in her honour ... Cortney would want it no other way."

With files from On the Go