VICTORIA — The deaths of two sisters at Christmas have left many people confused, vulnerable and grasping for answers about why their young lives were cut short, a funeral service heard Friday.
More than 1,000 mourners attended the service at Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria for six-year old Chloe Berry and her four-year-old sister Aubrey.
"Our whole life's compass has been scrambled," said Rev. Ansley Tucker. "I, who am paid to be wise, know nothing. The death of Chloe and Aubrey were not part of the will of God. Where was God on Christmas Day?"
The girls' bodies were found on Dec. 25 in an apartment in nearby Oak Bay.
Their father, Andrew Berry, 43, has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder.
Ansley said the deaths will change many people but it is up to everybody to find a way to believe the sisters are bound to God's love.
"I'm saying, in some way, a part of God died that day, too," she said. "Is there some way we will allow our pain to soften?"
A single urn holding the ashes of both Chloe and Aubrey was covered with butterflies because they are a symbol of resurrection, said Ansley. The urn stood on a flower covered table at the front of the cathedral.
Family friend Trisha Lees said before the service she would like the girls to be remembered with great joy because they brought that feeling to others.
The service also heard from family members, teachers and friends.
Michaela Winter, one of Chloe's teachers at Christ Church Cathedral school, could not hold back her tears when she recalled wishing both girls Merry Christmas at the school's pageant performance last month.
"Of course, now I wish I had said so much more," she said.
Winter said Chloe was in the school's yoga and swim clubs and volunteered as a reading partner to students in Kindergarten.
"Chloe captured all that life could offer every single day. We are forever changed by losing these two girls."
Aubrey was remembered for her performance as the angel Gabriel in the school's Christmas nativity pageant.
Family friend Sandra Hudson said Aubrey reminded her mother, Sarah Cotton, of a pixie, which is why she chose her first name because it means ruler of the elf kingdom.
Chloe could make the sun shine while Aubrey had the "power to melt our hearts," said Hudson.
Emma Cotton said she spoke to her cousin Sarah on Christmas Day about the sisters travelling to England for a visit with their relatives this year.
"I have so many wonderful memories of Chloe and Aubrey, which I will cherish for the rest of my life," she said. "Rest in peace my little darlings. You are true angels now."
Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version misstated the first name of the girls' mother, Sarah Cotton.