Gay activist Raymond Taavel honoured in Halifax march

Hundreds of people gathered in Halifax Sunday to pay tribute to Raymond Taavel, who was murdered in Halifax April 17.

One of the participants was Gabe Saulnier, a personal friend of Taavel who was looking for closure. "It's really, it's nice that the turnout is so big. We have to let Raymond go," he said.

Taavel, a popular gay activist, was beaten to death outside a gay bar on Gottingen Street. His shocking murder rocked the community after the police charged Andre Denny, a psychiatric patient on a one-hour pass from the hospital, with his death.

But Sunday's service focused on Taavel's life.

"It's important to get closure," said Ross MacDonald, who helped organize the event. "It's been a really emotional reaction, everybody recognizes the tragedy of it. Everybody recognizes, I think, the wonderful things that Raymond contributed to the community."

The crowd, filled with a mix of friends and strangers, marched united through downtown Halifax and finished with a service at St. Mary's Basilica.

Taavel's urn and picture were placed at the front of the church, while a video paid tribute to his contribution to the community.

"I think what people are doing right now is coming together and trying to heal and support one another and carry on the work that needs to be done," said MacDonald.

Taavel was remembered for his infectious smile, and for his willingness to always forgive.

"I imagine it will get easier, but it will never go away. The pain will ease, the scars will heal, they won't be as visible but they'll always be there," said Saulnier.

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