June 24, 2013 - 11:18 AM
ARMSTRONG — A year and a half ago, a section of train tracks was cordoned off with police tape as investigators examined the scene of a murder that took the life of an 18-year-old Armstrong girl. On Sunday, the community gathered beneath a hot June sun to replace the evil done there with hope.
The Taylor Jade Van Diest Memorial Trail runs parallel to the tracks behind Armstrong Elementary School. The route is frequented by kids, seniors, and girls Taylor's age.
"The emphasis for this trail is safety," Taylor's uncle Paul Albert said. "We never want to see this happen again."
The trail has been paved and a safety fence installed between it and the train tracks. A bench invites people to stay and sit awhile. Flowers, including roses—Taylor's favourite—line the scenic walkway. A ceramic angel peers out from the greenery and wind chimes ring in the breeze.
"Members of the community have approached me to say what a great job I have done with the trail," Taylor's mother Marie said. "But I cannot take all the credit."
She thanked members of the public and local businesses for their generosity.
"I could go on and on," she said after listing over a dozen.
For Taylor's aunt, Anne Mihalcheon, the trail is an important part of the healing process, not just for her family, but for the community.
"The City of Armstrong had to live with that fear for a while, it was devastating to the whole community," Mihalcheon says.
Brightening the path and revisiting it in Taylor's honour helped push the darkness from her life.
"You take back your power from someone who took it from you. You say no more, and you stand up against what is dark," she says.
During a memorial walk last Halloween, Mihalcheon says the path was a far cry from how it looks now.
"It was still pretty rough, now it's just beautiful," she says.
Taylor's twin Kirstie cut a purple ribbon (her sister's favourite colour) to officially open the trail. Blinking back tears, Kirstie walked the trail beside her mom, a river of people funneling behind them.
"It's very cathartic," Mihalcheon said, a tear running down her cheek.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at firstname.lastname@example.org, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013