'We're all feeling it,' says organizer of Winnipeg vigil in honour of slain Sagkeeng First Nation teen

'We're all feeling it,' says organizer of Winnipeg vigil in honour of slain Sagkeeng First Nation teen

A group of Winnipeg supporters are planning a vigil to honour 19-year-old Serena McKay, 100 kilometres away from the community where she was found dead last weekend.

McKay's body was found on Sagkeeng First Nation, northeast of Winnipeg, on Sunday night. The teen was attending high school in the community of roughly 4,000 people and was slated to graduate in June.

Two girls, aged 16 and 17, have since been charged with second-degree murder in connection with her death.

The First Nation already held a vigil in her honour on Thursday evening, but Jillian Wilson and Isabel Daniels say they wanted to do something in Winnipeg for supporters who couldn't be there.

"I'm a mother. I have a 19-year-old son. I couldn't imagine," said Wilson, who didn't know McKay personally. "It was just heartbreaking seeing it, constantly seeing it, and just worrying about my own kids in this world, in this city. It's just getting so bad."

So far, she said around 500 people have expressed interest in coming.

"It was crazy … how quickly the community came together and just want to show love and compassion for this girl that died, and all the other ones that passed too, right?" said Daniels, who is from Sagkeeng and has lost a niece and close friend to murder.

The vigil is set to begin at Winnipeg's Thunderbird House at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. From there, the Bear Clan Patrol will lead the group down Waterfront Drive to Oodena Circle at The Forks, where the vigil will wrap up with drumming and donated tobacco and refreshments.

Daniels and Wilson said the vigil is intended to honour McKay and show solidarity with her family, but also to help the community process the tragedy.

"It's definitely to help everybody heal, too, because we're all feeling it. It's natural," Wilson said. "When you see something like that you feel it. As a parent, you feel it 10 times worse."

The pair said they hope the Winnipeg vigil raises awareness for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and about the harmful role of social media videos showing real-life violence, like one that circulated on Facebook that allegedly shows McKay being beaten.

"It's normal now to pull out your phone and record [violence] instead of stopping it," Wilson said.