Nova Scotia

People urged to leave stuffed animals on porches for 7 victims of Halifax fire

Two Halifax women have taken inspiration from the Humboldt Broncos tragedy to show support for a family and a community mourning the loss of seven children in a tragic fire.

'There were seven beautiful children who we want to remember'

A pile of flowers and stuffed animals continues to grow near the Barho home in Spryfield. (Robert Short/CBC)

Two Halifax women have taken inspiration from the Humboldt Broncos tragedy to show support for a family mourning the loss of seven children in a horrific house fire.

The news of the seven Barho children killed early Tuesday in a fire at their Halifax home has sent shock waves of grief across the country.

The children ranged in age from three months to 14 years old. The children's parents were taken to hospital where the father was said to be in critical condition Tuesday.

Angela Pellerine was among a crowd of mourners that gathered outside the Barhos' burned-out home in freezing temperatures Tuesday night to pay tribute to the young victims

"Devastated. I could not imagine," said Pellerine, who lives around the corner from the family's home in the Spryfield neighbourhood. 

"It's just ... unimaginable sorrow. There's no actual words to describe how I feel."

Angela Pellerine, left, and Andrea Bennett, right, are asking people to leave stuffed animals on their porch this evening as a tribute to the seven Barho children who died in a house fire Tuesday morning. (Submitted by Angela Pellerine)

One of Pellerine's neighbours mentioned he could not attend the vigil but had tied a bunch of flowers to his porch to show support for the family, who came to Canada as Syrian refugees in 2017.

"And that kind of reminded me of Humboldt where we put the hockey sticks out to commemorate those players. And it just kind of, from there, snowballed," said Pellerine.

People across the country showed their support for the Humboldt Broncos last April by leaving hockey sticks out on their porches. (Kevster Pruce/Timo Halinen/ProLocker)

Pellerine and her cousin Andrea Bennett are asking people to place stuffed animals on their porch Wednesday to remember the victims.

"There were seven beautiful children who we want to remember," she said.

They posted their idea on social media, where Pellerine said the response has been "phenomenal." People as far away as Florida are sharing the idea, she said.

"We also want to remember the first responders who witnessed this tragedy. They also have to live with this," said Pellerine. 

"And our community, because we're all just here grieving and trying to live with what happened."

The Barho family when they arrived at the Halifax airport in September 2017. From left to right: Rola, Ebraheim holding Hala, Mohamad, Ahmed, Kawthar holding Rana and Ola. The family welcomed their seventh child, Abdullah, just three months ago. (Enfield Weekly Press)

An online fundraiser for the Barho family had raised more than $313,000 as of early Wednesday afternoon. A number of local businesses also pledged to help by donating proceeds from a full day of sales to the family.

Jennifer Watts, CEO of the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia, said staff with the organization's crisis team are working with the family.

A Halifax couple paid respects to the Barho family on Wednesday. (Robert Short/CBC)

She said now would be a good time to think about reaching out to other newcomers who came to Canada as refugees.

"They will feel, I think, even more sensitive to this issue in terms of what has happened about who will support them and who will be with them," Watts said.

"So it's a time ... for all of us to gather stock and be a supportive community with one another."

The note on these flowers placed outside the Barho home in Spryfield reads: "Seven beautiful angels." (Colleen Jones/CBC)

Community gathering at Grand Parade

The City of Halifax plans to host a community gathering Wednesday starting at 7 p.m. at Grand Parade in front of city hall.

The fire damage appears extensive from the back of the house. (Robert Short/CBC)

Halifax Deputy Mayor Tony Mancini said it's a chance for people to show support for the family and grieve together.

"It's a way of healing. None of us can imagine what that family is going through," he said.

"I can't imagine one person that isn't feeling something inside. I think it's part of the healing process for everybody, but also to show our great diverse community how much we do care."

About the Author

Cassie Williams

Reporter/Editor

Seasick marine biologist, turned journalist. I live in Halifax. I can be reached at cassandra.williams@cbc.ca