In what seemed to be more than coincidence, the conviction of serial killer Cody Alan Legebokoff, 24, came just two days prior to the Loren Donn Leslie Foundation’s fourth annual collective awareness walk and family fun day.
The fun day, which had been in the works for many months, was given an extra boost of morale as the guilty verdict came through on all four counts of murder and Legebokoff was carted away to await sentencing.
The fun day took place on Sept. 13 at Riverside Park where dozens of people from Vanderhoof, Prince George and the surrounding areas flocked out to remember Loren, empower youth and celebrate life.
Saik’uz First Nation Chief Stanley Thomas opened the celebration with an address to the crowd and a prayer for Doug Leslie, Loren’s father.
“What a day our creator has given us,” Thomas said. “To the Leslie family, your journey of healing has begun.”
Thomas went on to remind us all to believe, love, cry, laugh and to walk on, saying to Leslie,
“Prayers from family and friends, far and near, I believe will carry you.”
There we’re a number of attractions featured: three-legged races, bean bag tosses, face painting, a bouncy castle and Clash the Clown to name a few.
Leslie addressed the crowd encouraging everyone present to “have a blast” as he put it.
“It’s been quite a trek but we won, we won everything,” he said. “It’s a beautiful day with beautiful people and good things are going to happen today. There’s lots of fun and music… I hope everyone has a blast. We are going to move forward positively and there is no doubt about that in my mind. Everyone just enjoy themselves today.”
In attendance were also members of the School District 57, from Prince George, with whom the Loren Donn Leslie Foundation is working hand-in-hand with to promote youth empowerment.
Shelly Niemi, the aboriginal education department manager with school district 57 said of the LDLF, “we have welcomed Doug [Leslie] in to help build Loren’s vision… we will do whatever we can to support you in this.”
Susan Johnson, the assistant superintendent with school district 57 echoed her sentiment saying,
“I did not know Loren personally but I know she is living in my heart and I know this because I can feel her. She wants us to continue the journey she has started and to make a difference in this world.”
Despite the tragedy that spawned this event, the day was one of positivity; the air was filled with the echo of children laughing and young and old alike enjoying the scenery.
At 6 p.m. those in attendance gathered together for a collective awareness walk around the track at Riverside Park to reflect on life, community and youth.