People of Amherst, N.S., gather to grieve for family of six that died in fire
The community of Amherst, N.S., came together on Friday to collectively grieve the loss of six of their own who were taken much too soon.
All six members of the family -- two adults and four children -- were tragically killed after a fire burned in their camper trailer in Millvale, N.S., nearly two weeks ago.
The heartbreak felt by an entire town was evident as hundreds of people gathered at Victoria Square in downtown Amherst Friday afternoon to show their support.
"The grieving and the loss that we feel with an entire family gone in one moment -- its a hard concept for anyone to gather," said Amherst mayor David Kogon. "I've never been through anything like this. And I think to start the grieving process, one really has to begin with this."
At the public memorial, the community heard memories of each member of the young family.
Michelle Robertson's cousin Molly Ferdinand said Michelle was a loving mother of four.
"As long as her children were safe and happy, the rest didn't matter," Ferdinand said.
Ferdinand said Michelle's partner, RJ Sears was a fun-loving and kind father.
"What I loved about RJ the most was how good he was to Michelle and the kids," Ferdinand said.
Madison was the oldest child, but just 11 years old.
"She took her role as big sister very seriously," Ferdinand said. "She was very tentative and protective of her younger brothers."
Eight-year-old Ryder, always followed in his father's footsteps.
"He was a happy content little baby, and when he became older, he just wanted to do everything dad was doing," Ferdinand said.
Four-year-old Jaxson was considered by many to be an old soul.
"He loved his big brother and quickly tried to keep up with him," Ferdinand said.
Of three-year-old CJ, the youngest of the four children, Ferdinand said: "Being the baby, and also having health concerns at the start, he got away with a thing or two."
Amherst Fire Department members served as the honour guard, along with teachers from Cumberland North Academy where three of the children attended school.
"The children, the friends, the family members, of the four little ones are going to have a real difficult time dealing with that loss," Kogon said.
The outdoor ceremony was granted an exemption from public health to allow for this larger gathering, as long as participants could show proof of vaccination and remain masked.
For those who attended, it seemed like a small concession in order to show their support at such an important time.