Dozens of people gathered Saturday around a memorial of flowers and stuffed animals in a park as Indigenous drummers sang in honour of a slain mother and her 11-year-old.
Family members identified the victims of the Friday afternoon attack outside an elementary school as Carolann Robillard, 35, and Sarah Miller, who had started using the first name Jayden.
“I’m really grateful for everyone for being here,” said a sobbing Donna Robillard, as others held hands and said prayers.
“Carolann, my daughter, she was a beautiful girl … and Sarah was always happy and full of joy. She loved her family very much, and her sisters and her mom.
“Why my daughter? Why my granddaughter?”
Police have said the woman and child were stabbed about suppertime Friday outside Crawford Plains School in southeast Edmonton.
They said officers responded and shot a man matching a description of the suspect after an altercation. The woman died at the scene and the child later died in hospital.
The suspect was in hospital in critical condition, police said, and Alberta’s police watchdog was investigating the shooting.
Police said they did not know if the suspect knew the victims.
Max Dow, 13, took a teddy bear to the park. Standing with his parents, he said he had witnessed part of the attack.
“It was really graphic, there was blood everywhere,” he said. “It was like right out of a horror movie.”
He said the woman was with two children in a white car, when a man went up to them. The man grabbed one of the children by the head and banged the child against a car door, he said.
“Then he started stabbing,” said Max. “I told the other (child) to run, I came home and told my family and they called police.”
Donna Robillard said her eight-year-old granddaughter, who escaped the attack, “is going to have a hard time.” “She’s going to need a lot of counselling since she has seen it all.”
Carolann Robillard, a single Cree mother of three, was a kind free-spirit, said her former brother-in-law Dave Miller. He described Jayden as kind and loving.
Dan Lauton went to the vigil with his family and brought a bouquet of flowers. He said his daughter and Jayden both attended Crawford Plains, and he was shocked to hear of the killings.
“The crazy thing for me was that it was in broad daylight … a mom and her kid at the park, like it might as well have been at a grocery store,” he said.
Edmonton Public Schools said in a statement that staff and students will need support. “The division’s Critical Incident Support Services team will be available at Crawford Plains School on Monday morning when classes resume,” it said.
United Conservative Party Leader Danielle Smith spoke about the killings on Twitter. “This is utterly tragic and my heart goes out to the entire family of the victims,” she wrote.
NDP Leader Rachel Notley also said in an online post that she was heartbroken: “I share the shock and sadness of our community.”
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.