Rehtaeh Parsons: Family, dignitaries bid farewell to Nova Scotia teen
Forget-me-nots will be planted this spring to honour Rehtaeh Parsons, a 17-year-old Nova Scotia girl whose tragic story has touched people around the world.
A pouch of seeds for the hardy perennial flower was given to each person at Rehtaeh's funeral Saturday.
Family and friends filled St. Mark's Anglican Church in Halifax's North End to pay their last respects to Rehtaeh, who died April 7.
Her parents said she was sexually assaulted when she was 15, then bullied after photos of the attack circulated online. She struggled for months to overcome bullying before taking her life, her family said.
A photograph of Rehtaeh graced the program for the service along with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr., that she posted on her Facebook page days before she died: "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
Her death prompted an outpouring of grief and rage on social media and has sparked the RCMP and Halifax police to re-open the case against four boys alleged to have raped her.
That news came Friday, too late to give hope to Rehtaeh.
Saturday, Rehtaeh's family sobbed as a hearse drove away with her ashes.
A cold rain fell and the lament of a piper was the only sound as her relatives gave each other hugs on the sidewalk in front of the church.
Rev. John Morrell said there are too many similar stories.
"This isn't an isolated incident," Morrell said. "In our society, it's only in the last 200 years that women were not common property and objects. We still have a long way to go to bring that sense of equality."
Angella Parsons, Rehtaeh's cousin, spoke on behalf of the family.
"We are eternally grateful for the large gathering of friends and strangers that Rae's story has touched," Parsons said. "The family has been recipients of random acts of kindness from people from people who we don't even know. The support has been overwhelming. A true testament of the beauty of humanity."
Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter attended as did Halifax Mayor Mike Savage.
Dexter said he is thankful that vigilantes have not taken matters into their own hands.
"Violence is not an answer to the questions that are raised by things like this," Dexter said.
Donations in Rehtaeh's memory can be made to the East Coast German Shepherd Rescue, the SPCA, and Laing House -- a support centre for teens with mental illness.