April 04, 2014 - 1:24 PM
VERNON – There won’t be a public vigil for the first time in 18 years to mark one of the darkest days in Vernon’s history — a mass murder that claimed 10 lives, including the killer's.
The public ceremony was halted this year at the request of the families.
On Good Friday in 1996, Mark Chahal went on a shooting rampage, killing his ex-wife Rajwar Gakhal and 8 other members of the Gakhal and Saran families as they prepared for her wedding in the family home on Okanagan Avenue.
Chahal then drove to a local motel and killed himself.
Every year since the murders, community groups have organized and held a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of the Good Friday Massacre and other victims of domestic violence. About 80 people usually attended the annual events, including members of the families.
“The families asked for privacy this year to mourn their loved ones in private instead of in public,” Vernon Women’s Transition House program director Brooke McLardy says. “I can see from the families' perspective. It would be a lot to have to face publicly every year.”
McLardy hopes the community still takes time to remember the massacre on April 6.
For next year, she plans to talk with the families and seek their guidance.
McLardy says the Transition House may look at having a public event the families aren’t necessarily associated with.
“I do think it’s important that our community continues to remember, not only the Gahkal/Saran murders but all the domestic violence murders that have happened in our community.”
A family member lays a rose on the memorial on April 6, 2013 in commemoration of nine loved ones murdered in 1996.
(CHARLOTTE HELSTON /InfoTel Multimedia)
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014