Nova Scotia

Friends, family, dignitaries attend Rehtaeh Parsons funeral

Rehtaeh Parsons' family and friends gathered Saturday in Halifax for her funeral. The 17-year-old took her own life after months of bullying.

Service held one day after police re-opened investigation into alleged assault

500 supporters mourn Rehtaeh Parsons at funeral

9 years ago
Parsons' funeral drew family, friends, politicians and community members, while outrage swells online 1:56

Rehtaeh Parsons' family and friends gathered Saturday in Halifax for her funeral. The 17-year-old took her own life after months of bullying.

Mourners filed into Halifax's St. Mark's Anglican Church for Rehtaeh's funeral Saturday morning. (Stephen Puddicomb/CBC)

According to her mother, four boys sexually assaulted her daughter when she was 15. Rehtaeh was then said to have been mocked by classmates, enduring relentless harassment and humiliation after a photo of the attack was circulated at her school and on social media.

The service was held just one day after police re-opened an investigation into the alleged assault at a party in November 2011.

Following the service Angella Parsons, Rehtaeh's cousin and the spokesperson for the family, issued a statement.

"The family has been recipients of random acts of kindness from people who we don’t even know," she said. "The support has been overwhelming, a true testament of the beauty of humanity."

Several dignitaries, including Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter, also attended the funeral.

Dexter was at the service instead of attending the New Democratic Party's policy convention in Montreal as was orginally planned.

After the service, the premier spoke to reporters.

"I came to this service today first and foremost as a father trying to imagine what kind of incredible, unfathomable grief could be visited upon a family," he said.

In a Saturday morning interview with CBC Radio's The House, the premier was asked what he thought of police re-opening the case.

"We're hopeful that this will lead, obviously, to bringing this matter to a just conclusion for the family and for the community at large," he said. "This is obviously a matter that is taking up the bulk of people's attention and it's good to see that people are coming forward."

Where to call for help

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868

N.S. Mental Heath Mobile Crisis Team: 1-888-429-8167

Police had originally said there wasn't enough evidence to pursue charges, but after intense pressure, the RCMP re-opened the case Friday.

The Mounties said they have new and "credible" information from a source they claim is willing to work with them.

"The investigators are going to look at that in its entirety, so we're back in business and we're going to continue to move forward and see where that information leads us," said RCMP Cpl. Scott MacRae.

He said the information did "not come from any online source."

Earlier in the week, a group claiming to be the leaderless, online collective known as Anonymous vowed to identify those involved in the victimization of the teenager. But the group said later it would withhold the names at the request of her family.

About 500 mourners packed into Rehtaeh's funeral at Saint Mark's Anglican Church.

Friends in the teen's community of Cole Harbour, N.S., came out in the snow and sleet around 10 p.m. Friday night for a vigil to honour her.

Rehtaeh's mother, Leah, "said this was very touching and provided her support and comfort," Angella Parsons told reporters following the service. "We are eternally grateful for the large gathering of friends and strangers that Rae’s story has touched.

"My family asks for privacy today out of respect for Rehtaeh," she added.