Sudbury community mourns together at candlelight vigil for 3 Osagie children
About 100 people braved the cold to offer support, condolences to Uche Osagie
People in Sudbury came together Thursday to remember three children whose lives were cut short in a tragic car crash on New Year's Day.
A candlelight vigil was held downtown to honour the Osagie siblings: Destiny, 11, Flourish, 10, and Britney, 6. They died in a single-vehicle collision Jan. 1, along Highway 17 near Lively.
Their mother, Uche Osagie, survived the crash.
A crowd of about 100 people came out Thursday evening in –25 C wind chill to take part in the procession, which started at the Sudbury Arena, winding down down Minto Street to Tom Davies Square.
As the procession worked its way along the two blocks, a Nigerian chant filled the cold air. The song spoke of remembering the children, and the tears coming down the faces of the mourners.
After reaching city hall, the crowd went inside for several prayers.
The vigil was planned by members of the local Nigerian community, including Adejare Oduwole.
"A hug to Uche is support," he said. But he added that offering a handshake to a Nigerian in Sudbury is still showing support.
"You pat them on the back and say, 'Hello, we understand how you feel.' We will relay the message. People are grieving for [Uche] and people are with her."
Charles Abass also helped organize the vigil. He says a candlelight procession is a custom in Nigeria when someone dies suddenly.
"It simply signifies making a way for them to have a place in heaven," he said.
'It's three children. It's her entire family'
Those who attended the vigil came for different reasons. Some were from the Nigerian community and came to support their friend, the children's mother.
"When children are involved it touches everyone alike," said friend Cleopatra, who didn't give her last name.
"We're happy that they came to support us, and this is everybody, not just in the Nigerian community, most people in Sudbury are in support of her," she said.
Debbie Walsh has Nigerian friends at her church in Sudbury, but also wanted to be at the vigil to show support to the children's mother.
"It's just my way of saying [to Uche] 'I am so sorry'. I need to be here."
"As a mother and a grandmother I just feel deeply for who she's lost and think we need to support her as a community," said Liz Smith, who felt it was a testament to Sudbury's caring nature to see so many out on a cold night.
The prayers at the vigil were given by Pastor Christian Mgbokwere and Pastor Todd Manuel.
Manuel is the lead pastor at Glad Tidings Church, where the funeral for the three children will be held on Saturday.
"There's no question that everybody in the city, anybody that's paying attention, is affected by this," he said.
"From those closest to the family, to the Nigerian community and then to strangers, in fact. Let's think about it — it's three children. It's her entire family."
After the short service at Tom Davies Square, a long line of friends and strangers waited in line to offer support and condolences to the children's mother.
The visitation for the three children is planned for Friday, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Lougheed Funeral Home on Regent Street. The funeral for Destiny, Flourish and Britney is planned for Saturday at 11 a.m. at Glad Tidings Church, also on Regent Street.
The funeral will be live streamed at https://gtsudbury.ca/watch-live/.