Children sat in the grass at a vigil Wednesday evening near the spot where a 12-year-old boy was fatally stabbed five days earlier on Winnipeg’s Burrows Avenue.
A memorial for the boy, who has been identified by family as Sanchez Boulanger, started taking shape in the days following his death. Stuffed animals, photos and a letter to Sanchez now sit surrounding a large tree on the street’s median.
“Sanchez,” the note reads, “You were important. You mattered. You are loved. Rest well …”
The vigil comes one day after police announced a 19-year-old woman has been charged with manslaughter in the boy’s death following a violent altercation between two groups last week a spokesperson described as “exceptionally troubling.”
They did not release the woman’s name and said they are still investigating the homicide.
The vigil followed another in the same spot on Sunday, which was attended by roughly 25 people.
On Wednesday, the street was filled with more than 100 people, many of them kids and teens with their families, as community members drummed and sang.
A toy dump truck sat in the grass nearby as a dreamcatcher fixed to a tree branch hung above it all.
Ninoondawah Richard, who does not know the family but helped organize the vigil for Sanchez, said the community wanted to show support during a difficult time.
“We need to come together as a people together to heal with these families, not to judge them,” the 28-year-old said.
Sanchez’s mother, Joni Gabriel, did not speak at the vigil for her second-oldest son, who was a Grade 7 student at Niji Makhwa School.
Earlier this week, Gabriel said she was trying to stay strong for her five other children.
She described Sanchez as a caring child with a kind heart and said she’ll miss their morning talks as she made him breakfast.
The death marked Winnipeg’s 18th homicide of 2021 and the 11th in just over a month.
Anyone with information about the stabbing is asked to call investigators at 204-986-6508 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 204-786-8477.