Amherst organizing memorial for family that perished in camper fire
With pandemic protocols still in place across Nova Scotia, organizers in Amherst say they're working on plans to allow the largest amount of people to attend while still staying safe.
The heartbreak of those tragic deaths has seemingly been felt across the province and in an attempt to allow the community to grieve the losses together, a public memorial has been tentatively set for Friday afternoon in Amherst.
It was just over a week ago when the family of six were camping on family-owned land in Millvale, N.S. Thirty-year-old RJ Sears, 28-year-old Michelle Robertson, 11-year-old Madison, eight-year-old Ryder, four-year-old Jaxson, and three-year-old CJ all succumbed to the smoke and fumes created by a small fire inside the trailer.
A memorial that is open to the public will take place at Victoria Square in downtown Amherst.
In a brief conversation Monday, Cumberland North MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin said an exemption to current pandemic gathering limits in the province was approved by public health for the event -- though the exact number of people allowed to attend is not yet known.
“The town is working with the funeral director and the family in an effort to maximize the number of people who can attend the event still respecting COVID limitations and restrictions because that can never be forgotten," said Amherst mayor David Kogon.
Current guidelines state a maximum of 250 people can gather outdoors with masks and social distancing.
Kogon says with the entire province mourning the losses along with the families, efforts are being made to ensure COVID-19 restrictions will be followed.
"It could become much larger than is allowed, so yes, our Amherst Police Force will be in the periphery and they will be keeping things under control," Kogon said.
Streets surrounding the park will also be closed to traffic to allow for less disruption during the ceremony.
The funeral home that has been organizing Friday's memorial says they're encouraging people to take part in the ceremony virtually, even if they're able to attend in person.
An online stream will be available and the funeral home's director say he hopes this option will help reduce in-person numbers and keep the gathering within COVID-19 limits.