Friends and family gathered at a candlelight vigil at Kelowna’s temporary overnight shelter at Recreation Park on Wednesday night to pay their respects to Shane Bourdin, a father of three who died in the area earlier this week.
During the event, approximately 75 people held glow sticks and candles around a memorial to honour Bourdin and the loved ones he left behind.
One person who traveled all the way from Alberta to attend the ceremony was Bourdin’s mother Theresa Whittier.
During the event, Whittier said she was frustrated that nothing more had been done to save her son’s life while he was camping in the cold.
“I’m so angry I can’t even cry right now. My son died being out here,” said Whittier.
“Now that he’s died, the city is rushing to put all these people indoors. Why did this not happen while my son was still alive?”
Whittier said her son has left behind a number of close family members, including three children.
“My son is dead. He’s gone forever and his kids will never see him again and neither will I,” she said. “I need to be proud of what he has done to help out all of his family down here in the tents. I’m so proud of my son and I’ll hold onto him in my heart forever.”
Kelowna resident Bryn McNair, who visited the shelter over the last two weeks to help out those in need, said Bourdin would often go out of his way to help other people.
“He always had a huge smile and was always willing to help,” said McNair
“If any of us came in with food or water, he was the first to say ‘Hey, can I help you.’”
Kelowna residents at the vigil also dropped off Naloxone kits and toiletries to help get people experiencing homelessness at the shelter through the winter.
According to officials, paramedics responded to a call for an unconscious man at Recreation Avenue site in the north end of the city early in the morning on Dec. 16. He was transported to Kelowna General Hospital, where he later died.
RCMP Const. Solana Paré said the B.C. Coroners Service was notified and is now investigating Bourdin’s death.
In November, the city moved people experiencing homelessness on Leon Avenue to two different temporary overnight shelters in the north end of the city — a site at Recreation Avenue and another at the base of Knox Mountain Park.
According to Homeless Hub, approximately 286 people are experiencing homelessness in Kelowna.