Candlelight vigils planned for Kamloops homeless advocate Katherine McParland who died unexpectedly | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Candlelight vigils planned for Kamloops homeless advocate Katherine McParland who died unexpectedly

Katharine McParland, executive director of A Way Home Kamloops, died unexpectedly, Dec. 6, 2020.
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A pair of candlelight vigils will be held to honour Katherine McParland, executive director of A Way Home Kamloops, who died this past weekend.

Police responded at around 9:13 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, to a residence in the 100 block of Lorne Street to a report of an unexpected death, according to an email from Kamloops RCMP Sgt. Darren Michels. Both RCMP and the B.C. Corners Service are conducting concurrent investigations in relation to her death. He said her death does not appear to be suspicious at this time.

The chair of the board for A Way Home Kamloops, Louise Richards, emphasized McParland's many achievements in her advocacy to eradicate youth homelessness at a news conference today, Dec. 7.

"We cannot express the depth of the loss to the community and to the Away Home Kamloops organization," Richards said. "She was a vibrant, energetic and remarkable young woman and we are heartbroken at her loss."

The staff and youth of A Way Home have been provided with grief support from community organizations. She said the board has no information about the cause of death, and that McParland was in her early thirties.

READ MORE: Kamloops youth homelessness prevention advocate Katherine McParland passes away

In the past two years, Katherine completed a master’s degree in social work, transitioned A Way Home Kamloops from a community coalition to a registered charity, and co-founded the B.C. Coalition to End Youth Homelessness. 

She also served as a commissioner on the B.C. Housing Board, and today the Ministry of Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing released a joint statement on her passing.

"We know Katherine was a compassionate fighter, never shying away from the tough issues that impacted her community. She was a deeply committed advocate for youth in Kamloops and her voice resonated across British Columbia," David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing, and Minister Katrine Conroy said in the statement.  "Her expertise and leadership on youth homelessness, including in her role co-founding the B.C. Coalition to End Youth Homelessness, has already transformed the lives of many young people and will have a lasting impact in our communities."

The Campout to End Youth Homelessness, A Way Home Kamloops’s signature fundraising event, was scheduled for Dec. 11 and will move ahead as planned.

"Katherine was a woman of action, and she would want us to continue her work," Richards said. 

She invited supporters to participate virtually or donate online to the fundraiser. 

A memorial walk is also being organized by some of McParland's friends, currently scheduled for Dec. 16 beginning at A Way Home on Victoria Street at 11 a.m. and ending at the pier in Riverside Park. Updates will be posted on an organizer's Facebook profile here.

The first candlelight vigil will be held from noon until 8 p.m. at the Kamloops Alliance Church on Leigh Road with COVID-19 protocols in place. The second will be held tomorrow, Dec. 7, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., also at the Alliance church.

— This story was updated at 12:21 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7, 2020 to add information about the memorial walk Dec. 16. 

— This story was updated at 5:02 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7, 2020 to add statements from the Ministry of Attorney General. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brie Welton or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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