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Friends and family mourn Nanaimo mill shooting victims

NANAIMO — Two men who died in a shooting at a sawmill last month were remembered in separate memorials on Saturday as people who loved life.

NANAIMO — Two men who died in a shooting at a sawmill last month were remembered in separate memorials on Saturday as people who loved life.

Friends and family remembered 53-year-old Fred McEachern — a father of two who was married to his wife, Lorraine, for 25 years — as a “genuine guy” who wanted to be a participant rather than an observer in life.

A hardhat, work gloves and hockey stick were displayed at the memorial in Nanaimo as bagpipes blared.

McEachern and 62-year-old Michael Lunn died when a lone gunman entered the Western Forest Products mill and started firing. Two other employees were wounded.

“There’s a lot of victims today,” said Tony Sudar, who narrowly escaped the shooting with a scrape on his face after a bullet grazed him.

“But we’ll get over this.”

Sudar, a friend and coworker, said the men who died were wonderful and gregarious people who cherished their families.

The other man injured in the shooting, Earl Kelly, sent a note from his hospital bed in Victoria talking about the impact McEachern had at the mill as a leader and mentor, and his love for his family.

“It’s a very sad day for Nanaimo,” said Mayor John Ruttan. “It’s an opportunity for people to get together and celebrate what these two men did for the community and for their families.”

Later in the day, hundreds at another ceremony gathered to remember Lunn at the Generations Church in Nanaimo.

A sea of people wearing red shirts — a homage to Lunn, who wore his favourite colour red every day to work — left only standing room.

Friends and family remembered him as a man who had a mischievous smile and a booming voice, whose love for his family was bigger than his appetite.

He loved to bust a move on the dance floor and share his legendary bear hugs with everyone he knew.

Lunn was a forklift driver at Western Forest Products for nearly 35 years. He had seven siblings, three children and seven grandhildren. Lunn was married to his wife, Marlene Helm, for 44 years.

“The guy had a heart the size of this town,” said Bruce Tober, who was friends with Lunn for over 30 years. “It’s evident when you see the turnout.”

Tober said that Lunn taught him a few life lessons, like the importance of taking the time to do something to improve someone’s day, and staying positive no matter what.

And that’s exactly what Lunn’s friends and family are doing. They’ve started an organization called the Red Shirt Foundation to help put an end to workplace violence.

Lynn Jacques, a family friend, said that the organization hopes to fund research and initiatives that stop bullying, verbal and physical abuse on the job.

Forty-seven-year-old Kevin Douglas Addison has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder in connection with the shootings.