Funerals Held For Barrhaven Family Killed In Berrigan Home

By Charlie Senack

Weeks after six Sri Lankan natives were killed inside their Berrigan Drive home, various funerals have been held around Ottawa to remember their lives.

On March 16, more than 100 people gathered at St. Monica Catholic Parish on Merivale Rd, for an 11:00 a.m. mass held by the Ottawa Sri Lankan Catholic Prayer Group.

Photographs of the four children and two adults killed sat on red carpeted stairs next to the church’s altar.  As a band played and the service began, roses were then placed next to the framed photos.

While the deceased were Buddhists and not Catholic, Barrhaven members of the Sri Lankan community felt it was important they honor the victims since the tragedy impacted everyone.

“We are here today to offer mass for the purpose of the innocent souls we lost in a senseless tragedy,” said event organizer Damithri Silva. “A lot of us didn’t know the families personally, but we didn’t need to for it to affect us. It affects us as humans, members of the Barrhaven community, (and) as Sri Lankans.”

Damithri Silva, who organized the event, said the tragedy affected everyone in the community.

The service lasted about an hour and was given in Tamil and Sinhalese, and English.

In his homily, Father Pierre Champoux said while Christ teaches Catholics to love life to the fullest, time is still needed to grieve.

“We can’t bypass this important part of life,” he said. “(But) we can complain less and be grateful more for life’s blessings. We can show love to one another. We can be more available for each other. We can get to know our neighbours and ask them how they are doing.”

The church service ended with an audio message from the family of 40-year-old Gamini Amarakoon, who was among the six killed. An acquaintance to the family, he was living in the Berrigan Drive home away from his wife, Dishani, and two daughters, Asheri and Kaylee, who are still in Sri Lanka.

“You were an amazing dad and we loved you a lot,” a young girl said. “Everyone misses you a lot and we hope you stay safe wherever you are and have a wonderful time. We will come to you when we can. Look over us and take care of us.”

Dishani thanked her partner for being an amazing father and husband.

“I still feel you will ring me anytime,” she said. “The wonderful time we spent together, the wonderful memories we collected together, will always be in our hearts.”

Uniting as a community

The following day on March 17, a funeral was held at the Infinity Convention Centre on Hunt Club near Uplands for the four children and their mother who were murdered in the senseless killings.

They were: 35-year-old Darshani Dilanthika Ekanyake, two-month-old Kelly Wickramasinghe, 3-year-old Ranaya, 4-year-old Ashwini and 7-year-old Inuka Wickramasinghe.

Five hearses carrying five coffins were outside. Inside, hundreds gathered to pay their respects. Among those in attendance was father Dhanushka Wickramasinghe who made his first public appearance since leaving hospital. His hands were wrapped in bandages and bruises were visible on his face.

In a statement released through the police, Wickramasinghe said he was shaken and torn by the loss of his family.

“I would like to thank the Ottawa First Responders, Ottawa Police, Victim Services, Ottawa Hospitals for your quick response which helped me navigate through the initial shock and chaos that followed because of this tragedy,” he said. “I would also like to thank (the) Buddhist Congress of Canada, Ottawa Sri Lankan Community, and people of Sri Lanka for being a pillar of support during this unimaginably difficult time.”

Wickramasinghe also extended his “heartfelt gratitude” to the community who have donated to his family’s GoFundMe and placed flowers at various vigils through Barrhaven. His father and brother were at Sunday’s funeral.

Many wept as the service began. Teachers and staff from Monsignor Paul Baxter Elementary School where two of the children attended participated.

“We would like to express our deepest condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones,” said Vincenza Nicoletti, principal of Monsignor Paul Baxter School. “We will certainly miss their kindness.”

Many politicians were in attendance including Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe, Nepean MPP Lisa MacLeod, local MP Chandra Arya, and  Gary Anandasangaree minister of lndigenous-crown relations.

“Your city is here with you. We will love and support you in the days ahead,” said Sutcliffe.”I want to express gratitude to the first responders that arrived on the scene. No amount of training could ever prepare a first responder, a police officer or paramedics. Our community is deeply grateful to you.”

Teddy bears, balloons, and notes left at vigils in Barrhaven for the victims have been moved to the Buddhist temple where the father worships. Six books of condolences were also available to sign at the service.

Featured Image – More than 100 people attended the mass at St. Monica Catholic Church.