Abby Barker’s friends and family talked and shared hugs Wednesday on the beach at Esquimalt Lagoon to honour her memory, with some putting messages about her into bottles and letting them float out to sea.
The memorial, which brought out dozens of people on a sunny, breezy afternoon, came after the 16-year-old’s sudden death last week from what her family said was a drug overdose.
Becky Barker, 14, said she is grateful for the response to the memorial event for her sister as dozens of young people poured out of vehicles and vans onto the beach. “I think it’s actually wonderful how many people came to show how much they loved her.”
She said there were a lot of people there she didn’t know. “My sister had so many friends, I did not meet half of them.”
Becky said her sister was an amazing person.
“She was caring, loving to everyone she ever met,” Becky said of Abby. “You could literally just meet her and you’d love her.”
Austin Bendall, 17, was among those who came to acknowledge Abby, his friend of two years.
“It’s kind of like closure for everybody,” he said.
He said he agreed with a comment from one his friends, who said it is important to “open your eyes to what drugs can do.”
Abby’s father, Tony, said his daughter “just wanted to live life.”
“She was looking forward to starting driving, getting her L. I got her the books.”
Her death has been very hard to take, he said. “Sure we get the ways of anger and we want justice and all that, of course, but the bottom line is she’s in heaven.”
Abby had most recently attended the Westshore Centre for Learning and Training, and had gone to Belmont Secondary School. She was planning to attend Oak Bay High School in September.
The B.C. Coroners Service has said only that it is investigating the death of a female teenager in the Jacklin Road area of Langford. Coroners Service spokesman Andy Watson said work is underway to pinpoint the cause of death, while West Shore RCMP said nothing has been found to be suspicious.
Ravi Parmar, chairman of the Sooke School Board, said efforts are being made to get supports in place for students by the start of the school year.