'We will never forget Christine': Vigil for Christine Wood draws hundreds to North End
Family, friends and strangers gathered on Burrows Avenue where the 21-year-old woman is believed to have been killed. Her body has not yet been found.
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It wasn’t supposed to end this way.
That was the refrain many voices repeated during a vigil in honour of Christine Wood Wednesday.
The 21-year-old woman from Bunibonibee Cree Nation (formerly Oxford House First Nation) went missing last August during a family trip to Winnipeg for a doctor’s appointment.
Her family, including parents George and Melinda Wood, and members of the community, including the Bear Clan Patrol, have been looking for her ever since.
They continued searching Wednesday night after the vigil as Wood’s body still has not been found. Still, police laid a second-degree murder charge in relation to her case last weekend.
"Tomorrow (it’s) seven-and-a-half months that we’ve been searching for our daughter. But this is not (how) we hoped for it to turn out," said George Wood in the moments before the memorial march began, heading toward Thunderbird House.
"The hardest part is that there’s no comfort yet. There’s no body," he said. "I’m just going to say I hope he does the right thing, to say where he put her body.”
Wood's father chose not to name the suspect and didn't need to. This night wasn’t about him.
Wood's vigil began at a church in the 300 block of Burrows Avenue, steps away from the house where police believe she was killed.
Passed among the crowd were artificial flowers adorned with photos of Wood and the message: 'You are so loved, Christine.'
About 250 to 300 relatives, friends and complete strangers gathered. Some blessed the area with sage, while others beat drums and sang prayer songs.
Winnipeg police chief Danny Smyth led the march alongside Wood’s parents, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson and Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak.
North Wilson and Nepinak offered condolences and thanks from the front yard of the Burrows Avenue home police say is tied to Wood's homicide.
"We loved Christine. We will never forget Christine," North Wilson said. "This means a lot to the family and I wish that we could comprehend and give you the words to tell you that we’re thankful. But at the same time we’re heartbroken."
"We plead with the man and his family to do the right thing and come forward and tell us where Christine is so she may be laid to rest properly," she said. "We want Christine home."
At Thunderbird House, Chief Smyth spoke to a sweltering room packed with supporters. Donated food and drinks lined the tables along one wall. Babies wailed appropriately.
"This investigation was especially important to me because you were guests in this city when this happened and we just couldn’t stand by and watch that," Smyth said.
"To George and Melinda, my heart goes out to you. I’m sorry for your loss and I want you to know the police are with you."
Outside Thunderbird House, Smyth told Metro he didn't know if any progress had been made in locating Wood's body, but police "have some theories they’re working on."
Steps away, Brenda Medeiros was trying to explain to her five-year-old grandson, Tryce, why a crush of people were stopping traffic down Main Street.
"Why is everyone holding a picture of her?" the little boy asked.
"Because somebody took her," she explained. "She’s a little angel now."