Skip to main content

Mourners walk past three hearses as they attend the funeral for Catie Bott, who was 13, and her twin 11-year-old siblings, Jana and Dara Bott in Red Deer, Alta., on Friday.Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

Catie trained a horse and loved green. Jana sewed her own purple nightgown, adorned with a butterfly and lace. Dara was the tomboy who could not be separated from her cowboy boots and stuffed cats. She preferred blue and did not like peppermint.

The Bott sisters were farm kids, and on Friday, roughly 1,500 people gathered at their funeral at Red Deer's CrossRoads Church. The three were killed in a farm incident after playing on a truck loaded with canola on Oct. 13.

Paw prints decorated Dara's casket. A stuffed animal sat on top of Catie's. Jana's had flowers on top, like the others. Their respective names were on each casket. Fuchsia roses and yellow sunflowers were part of the bouquets on the stage, where a church band from their hamlet played a rock version of Amazing Grace when the caskets entered the sanctuary.

"This isn't goodbye. This is: 'We'll see you in a while,'" their pastor, Brian Allan, said when he started the service.

Five cousins delivered eulogies for the girls. They wore matching green, purple and blue crocheted hairbands in honour of their cousins.

"Whatever they did, they did together," one of them said of the Bott sisters. Catie was 13 and Jana and Dara were 11-year-old fraternal twins. The pair were born half an hour apart, on separate sides of midnight, giving them their own birthdays.

"For the Botts, the farm was their life, whether that was climbing trees, running around with no shoes, or learning how to run the family farm, these kids were all over this way of life. And they loved it."

Sara Ebl was Catie's best friend. They met in kindergarten. "I remember building forts in the hayloft with square bales and getting out by tying a rope to one of the rafters, and throwing it out the hayloft door, scaling down the side of the barn," she said.

Adelita Studer spoke about her best friend, Jana. "Dear Jana: I saw a purple sunset the other day and it made me think of our painting classes at the church," she said. "I remember one time, Dara came over and said: 'Hey, wanna go smear the back of the shed with paint?' And we were like: 'Uh-huh.'"

Then, Daniella Studer spoke. "Dara is my best friend," she said. "Dara's favourite animal is cats and her favourite food is tacos and she didn't like peppermint."

Daniella also read a letter she wrote. "Dear God: How is Dara? She must be having loads of fun with you. Love, Daniella."

Roger and Bonita Bott, the girls' parents, home-schooled their children. With their nine-year-old son, Caleb, and a family dog, Socks, the Botts live on a farm outside Withrow, Alta., a hamlet of about 30 houses and a tiny church. It is about 190 kilometres southwest of Edmonton.

Neighbours finished harvesting for the Bott family the day after the incident that killed the girls. Friends and family brought over about eight or nine combines and 10 trucks and finished in just a few hours.

Catie and Jana died on the scene. Dara was airlifted to a hospital in Edmonton and died in the middle of the night.

The funeral lasted about an hour and a half and the Withrow worship team led most of the songs. Mr. and Ms. Botts are usually part of the band. One of Catie, Dara, and Jana's cousins sang a song she and Catie had conceived.

Mr. Allan, the family pastor, described how he felt after hearing the news the three girls died. All of his concerns – his worries – became inconsequential. "Who cares if the Blue Jays win or not, right? Who cares if the price of oil drops through the basement?"

Report an error

Editorial code of conduct