High Park vigil held in memory of Regis Korchinski-Paquet
Mourners gathered at 100 High Park, where woman fell to her death
Mourners gathered for a vigil in Toronto's High Park neighbourhood on Saturday evening in memory of 29-year-old Regis Korchinski-Paquet.
The event was held at 100 High Park, the building from which Korchinski-Paquet fell to her death on Wednesday.
"You could never find anyone as amazing as Regis," said Maahum Ahmad, who said she was a close friend of Korchinski-Paquet.
Ahmad is now one of many people who say they want to know the details surrounding the incident.
"I want to know what happened. She was my best friend ... it's just heartbreaking," said Ahmad.
Ahmad said Korchinski-Paquet would message her every night to say goodnight. Now, she's struggling with the fact she "didn't get to say goodbye."
"It was just so crazy to hear that she had to leave like this," Ahmad said.
"She is the kindest soul I have ever met."
Korchinski-Paquet's death has sparked widespread community reaction and online attention after her cousin and mother took to social media following her death, initially claiming she was pushed off a balcony by police.
In a statement released Saturday, Knia Singh, the family's lawyer, said family members are now "waiting on evidence from the investigation before any further conclusions can be made," adding that statements made prior to May 28 are not part of the official Korchinski-Paquet statement.
Other community members arrived sporadically to the vigil, adding flowers to a growing memorial outside the building.
"This young woman lost her life — and she didn't have to," Chantelle Krupka told CBC Toronto.
"Racism is a problem in this country, and we have to stop ignoring it."
Michael Headley, Krupka's partner, agreed.
"We're just here to pay our respects, say a prayer for her soul ... that's the most we can do right now," Headley said.
Though the pair didn't know the victim, Headley said they attended the event to "say a prayer for her soul."
"Were going to stand and fight in this with love," he said.
"We might not be able to fix something right now, but we can make a change, make a difference."
SIU investigating death
Ontario's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is looking into the death as questions continue to swirl around exactly what happened.
Korchinski-Paquet's family told reporters Thursday that what began as a 911 call for help ended in her death.
Singh described the victim as an active member of her church and a talented gymnast who was proud of her Ukrainian and Nova Scotian roots. In the last five years, Singh said she began experiencing epilepsy, and the family sometimes required help from police.
Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders has urged calm in the wake of her death, warning of an information "vacuum" faced by police that risks being filled by "opportunists."
Saunders spoke to reporters Friday about some of the issues that have been raised in the case.
"A lot of it is misinformation, a lot of it is lies," Saunders said, adding that police are legally bound from speaking about cases while investigations by the SIU are underway.
No family members were inside the unit at the time of Korchinski-Paquet's death and it's unclear if anyone witnessed her death.
Saunder said police received three 911 calls for an assault, with at least two of the calls saying a knife was involved.
In the statement released Saturday, however, Singh said when police arrived and spoke with Korchinski-Paquet, her brother and mother, there was no knife present and no assault taking place.
"The family strongly believes that Regis' death could have been prevented," the statement states.
Thousands gathered at Toronto rally Saturday afternoon
Meanwhile, thousands of people took part in a rally on downtown Toronto streets on Saturday, protesting what organizers described as anti-black and anti-Indigenous racism around the world.
The peaceful rally, organized by a group dubbed Not Another Black Life, comes on the heels of high-profile, police-involved deaths in both Canada and the United States. Some of the ensuing protests in the U.S. turned violent.
A Minnesota police officer is now facing a murder charge in the death of George Floyd, a black man caught on film pleading for air as an officer knelt on his neck.
Police said no arrests were made at a similar protest in Halifax on Saturday.
A rally also is scheduled for Montreal on Sunday.
Scenes from the rally in Toronto, following the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a black woman who died after 911 calls to police. It’s now under investigation by the SIU, the police watchdog <a href="https://t.co/ajz69BsIcH">pic.twitter.com/ajz69BsIcH</a>—@CBCLorenda
With files from Shanifa Nasser, The Canadian Press