Saskatoon

Father remembers Gilbert Kagabo as smart, friendly Holy Cross student who respected his family

Karangwa said with him and his wife getting older, he had hoped that his son would be able to help out around the house as they age. The young man was dedicated to his family and his religion, he was just recently baptised and always sang well in church.

3 teens have been charged in connection to his death

Nepomuscene Karangwa sits on the couch in his home on Arlington Avenue. He says his family is remembering their son Gilbert Kagabo as a smart and friendly kid who respected his family and was loved by many. (Don Somers/CBC)

Nepomuscene Karangwa points to a photo of his family on the wall in his Arlington Avenue home. His finger finds its way to a young man wearing glasses and a suit jacket. It's a photo of his son Gilbert Kagabo.

The young man looks happy in the photo. Wearing a big smile and surrounded by his family, the entire world was in front of the young man from Rwanda. But on Nov. 2, in the lobby of a credit union on the same street his family lives on, his life was cut short.

First responders tried to save his life, but they couldn't. Now his family and an entire community are in mourning.

"Gilbert was a nice guy," said his father through a translator. "He was a quiet guy. He goes to school every single day, Monday through Friday and on Sunday, he'd go to church. He was a smart guy and he respected his family."

"They didn't know anything bad about him," said Karangwa. 

Nepomuscene Karangwa, Gilbert Kabago's father, points to a photo of his son at his home. He says his son, who was killed on Nov. 2, was a smart and quiet child who loved his family. (Don Somers/CBC)

Kagabo, 15, became Saskatoon's 15th homicide victim of 2019. Police have charged three teens — two 15-year-olds and one 17-year-old — with second-degree murder in connection to his death, and all three are currently in custody.

One of the teens has also been charged with breaching probation and possession of a firearm while prohibited.

Karangwa said with him and his wife getting older, he had hoped that his son would be able to help out around the house as they age. The young man was dedicated to his family and his religion, he was just recently baptised and always sang well in church.

Throughout the home, chairs were placed for guests who have been coming to support the family, and Karangwa said having his community behind him has helped to keep him going. 

"He says he gets lots of support from everywhere, from the Rwandese people, from the Canadian [people]. Most people they come here to encourage him, to tell him to be strong."

Corwin Thiessen, right, met Gilbert Kagabo through a group called Youth For Christ. (Facebook)

Karangwa explained he's grateful for the work the Saskatoon Police Service has done finding and charging the individuals they believe may have been responsible for Kagabo's death.
 
There was standing room only on Thursday as the three accused in the teen's death appeared in court, as many of Kagabo's classmates and friends from Holy Cross High School in Saskatoon were present to witness the proceedings.

Derrick Kunz, a spokesman for the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, says students have been getting access to counselling and support since the death. He also said an email had been sent out to parents informing them about Kagabo's passing.

The death has shaken many communities, including Saskatoon's tight-knit Rwandan community.

Marcel Mutarugera, a close family friend of the man who died on Nov. 2, says the community is rallying around the family to try and support and comfort them during this difficult time. He spoke with media after a court appearance of the three accused at Saskatoon's provincial court on Nov. 7. (Don Somers/CBC)

"It's very sad for them, when you hear someone has died without sickness or any problem in his life. Of course, the community is very shocked and sad," said Marcel Mutarugera, a family friend.

Mutarugera said the community is rallying around the family.

"They are gathering every night," he said. "They're coming together at the house to comfort the family."

Services for the young man will be held at Faith Lutheran Church on Preston Avenue, with a viewing on Friday starting at 7 p.m. and his funeral set to take place on Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m.

Karangwa said anyone is welcome to attend to help say goodbye to his son.