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"The sadness is eternal:" Gakhal family

A family member lays a rose on the memorial stone outside the Vernon museum in commemoration of nine loved ones murdered in 1996. The mass murder has been dubbed the second largest of its kind in Canadian history.
April 05, 2013 - 8:39 PM

By Charlotte Helston

It's been seventeen years since Harminder Gakhal heard the gunshots that killed her cousin and eight other members of her family.

The estranged gunman was the husband her cousin left because of domestic abuse.

Gakhal was twelve years old when it happened. Now, at 29, the painful memory has become a reason to make a difference for others suffering the same torment her cousin did.

Around 75 people joined Gakhal and the surviving family members of the tragedy at a candlelight vigil Friday night outside the Vernon museum.

Guests held a minute of silence in honour of the slain, and laid roses on a memorial marker erected in the centre of town 17 years ago.

Local politicians, representatives from women's associations and a member of the RCMP spoke at the event. The theme from each mouth was largely the same: much has been done in the wake of Canada's second largest mass murder, but society must work harder yet to assist victims and abusers in order to prevent such tragedies.

Gakhal says the vigil frames a larger experience than her family's alone. "This is not just about our family, it's about the reasoning behind what happened: domestic violence," she says.

"In our case, the effect of domestic violence is eternal. As we are getting older, the sadness remains."

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at or call (250)309-5230.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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