Wednesday vigil for Christine Wood to be held steps from where she was killed

A vigil will be held for Christine Wood Wednesday afternoon, steps from where Winnipeg police say the 21-year-old woman was killed.

It's being organized by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, the Bear Clan Patrol, and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak — three groups that have been supporting the Wood family since Christine disappeared last August.

"Many people feel helpless," said Renata Meconse, MKO's communications officer.

"This memorial vigil will be a way that the community can stand with the family of Christine Wood and be there for her, and also remember her and learn about all of the great things that happened in her life and the good memories is what her life was all about."

Wood, who is from Oxford House First Nation, came to Winnipeg with her parents last summer to help a family member get to a medical appointment. She was last spotted on Aug. 19, 2016, leaving a hotel on Berry Street after 9 p.m. CT. She told her parents she was going to meet up with friends but never returned.

On Monday, Winnipeg police said they believed Wood was killed in a home on Burrows Avenue within hours of her disappearance. Brett Ronald Overby, 30, was arrested on April 7 and charged with second-degree murder.

"I think it's important for this family to see how much our community in Winnipeg and surrounding has grown to love Christine through them," said Christy Dzikowicz, director of child safety and family advocacy with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.

"They are remarkable, remarkable parents as I know you've seen and witnessed, and so I think if anything can offer any type of consolation right now to the family it's just knowing how cared for and how important we think Christine is and [how] supported this family is going forward," Dzikowicz said.

Vigil at Burrows church, not home

Meconse said there's a reason for holding the vigil so close to the Burrows Avenue house where police believe Christine Wood was killed.

"Historically I guess that is something some of the family members of missing and murdered Indigenous women have done,"  she said. "They've gone to the place where their loved one lost their life  and so that is the symbolic starting point of going to Burrows."

But instead of asking the public to meet at the Burrows Avenue home for the vigil, organizers decided a neighbourhood church would be a more appropriate gathering place.

"We're going to gather at St. Mary's Parish [365 Burrows], which is very close by," said Dzikowicz. "It's very important for the family to go visit the home and to have the community support in doing so. We just didn't want to focus on the home."

Organizers are asking those attending the vigil to gather at St. Mary's Parish at 4 p.m. CT Wednesday. From there, the group will walk to Thunderbird House at 715 Main St., where a memorial will be held for Wood from 5-7 p.m. CT.

Donations needed for memorial

Organizers are also hoping to collect donations of light refreshments to be served at the memorial. Non-perishable items can be dropped off at the MKO office, located at 1601-275 Portage Ave. Wednesday morning, or at Thunderbird House Wednesday afternoon.

MKO also started a GoFundMe page to raise money to bring 14 of Wood's family members to the Winnipeg vigil and cover their living expenses while they're here.

"Being able to provide that kind of meal coverage for them, so they're not out of pocket, financially strained because of this … we really wanted to try and help them in that way," said Meconse.