Tragedy Always Brings Out The Best in Barrhaven

Barrhaven Independent Editorial

Here we are again.

We are back to that dark place of shock after a horrific tragedy. We are left asking questions, and looking for answers that either don’t exist or are not good enough.

The day of Wed., March 6 was filled with record warmth and sunshine. Shockingly, the day turned into the darkest, coldest night Barrhaven has ever seen.

Over the last 20 years, the tragedies that this community has absorbed is inconceivable.

We go back to September 2004, when Jennifer Teague was abducted and murdered after working her shift at Wendy’s. The teenage girl took a bus to a convenience store at Jockvale and Tartan and met her friends for a late night dart before walking home along a path to her home on Kennevale. She was abducted and eventually killed.

Michael Swan, a popular kid with an infectious smile, was executed in his home in 2010. A friend of his helped set the robbery up, knowing that Swan, a former Double-A hockey player, had some cash and a bag of weed in the house he was renting with friends. Swan did not co-operate with the robbers. He was   shot and killed.

In 2015, the community was again horrified when Jagtar Gill was violently killed in her home while she rested on the family couch recovering from abdominal surgery. Gill’s husband, Bhupinderpal Gill, and his alleged lover, Gurpreet Ronald, were both charged with murder. The court found that Gill and Ronald, both OC Transpo employers, planned the killing.

In 2021, Conor Donnelly was charged with killing his mother, Linda Frederick, in Barrhaven.

In between the murders, there were tragic accidents. St. Mother Teresa student Cisco Williams was killed in a street racing crash on Beatrice Drive just hours after writing his last high school exam. Eric Leighton died in an explosion in shop class at St. Mother Teresa High School. In 2013, an OC Transpo bus and a VIA train crashed in Barrhaven, leaving six dead.

Those are some of the fatal accidents the community has mourned through. There have been several more. We mourned them all.

The name Wickramasinghe will forever be remembered in our community.

We need to ask ourselves, what will that name mean to us?

The name Wickramasinghe should remind us to hug our kids, and hug our spouses. Dhashuni Wickramasinghe lost his wife and four children, as well as a close friend in the attack. He will have physical scars from surviving the attack, but the emotional scars will never heal. He would give anything to hug his family just one more time.

Although we may not know him, now is the time for us to step up in the community and show love and compassion to a neighbour who has lost everything important in his life.

It’s what communities do, especially Barrhaven.