Family and friends of the teenaged girl killed in the crossfire of a shooting rampage wore white to her funeral on Saturday and reflected on her life through songs, poetry and memories.
The idea behind wearing white to Shyanne Charles’ funeral was to symbolize the 14-year-old’s innocence and purity, said her grandfather Tyrone Charles, who described the service at an east-end Toronto chapel as one of positive remembrance of a granddaughter he described as an “angel.”
“This is the last step,” he said. “This is joy, everybody has peace of mind today. She’s in the heavens, this is the last journey.”
Shyanne was killed while attending the barbecue with her family on July 16, which also saw Joshua Yasay, 23, of Ajax, Ont., killed and 23 others injured when gunfire broke out.
Tyrone Charles said that Shyanne’s mother had found closure from the funeral and had gotten a chance to say goodbye to her daughter “in her own way.”
“Today is not a sad day for us, today is one of the more better days we’ve had because today was about upliftment, closure, peace, happiness, love — all of these things. So, no tears.”
The funeral was arranged so that friends and family could remember Shyanne with songs, poetry and thoughts through an open microphone, Charles said.
One after another mourners shared their memories about the young girl, while visitors filled the foyer and gathered outside due to a lack of space in the chapel.
Pastor Tyrone Haynes presided over the service that saw mourners arrive in buses by the dozens from as far away as Montreal, her grandfather said.
“Now, all my hurt has turned into anger and I really want something done about it,” said 15-year-old Teianna Polera, who attended West Hill Collegiate high school with Shyanne.
“She was a beautiful little girl and she was amazing, she had so much for her going in life and she really wanted to go somewhere. (They) took everything away from her, but they’ll never truly, permanently take her away from us.”
Enriquita Mamaril, also known in the community as Mama Kathy, was shot in the leg in the same shooting incident that saw Charles killed. Despite the shooting, the neighbourhood is still one of the best in the city, she said.
“There is nothing wrong in that area, honest to God,” said Ms. Mamaril.
“We’re all like one family. Maybe we’re not so rich but we’re all one.”
Ms. Mamaril said the night of the shooting she heard a loud bang and thought that fireworks were going off around her. She then walked home and was told by neighbours at a nearby laundromat that she had been shot in the back of her leg.
Ms. Mamaril said that she was in shock for days after the shooting and has yet to come to terms with the ordeal.
“For me, it’s still not coming on yet,” she said. “I just shut everything out.”
Marilyn Ortega, whose son Ruddin Dexter Greaves was killed in a shooting in north Toronto 15 years ago, said gun violence in Toronto must stop.
“Again I’ve started to feel the pain for my community,” she said.
“When is this going to stop? Is it ever going to stop? And what can we do so that it can really stop? Because this is very painful.”
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