January Lapuz may have died in late September, but her spirit lives on, as witnessed by a rally Saturday night in New Westminster.
More than 75 people showed up at city hall in a Justice for January rally, where people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgendered, queer and/or intersex community remembered Lapuz and vowed to oppose the release of the man accused of killing Lapuz.
January Marie Lapuz, 26, was found suffering from stab wounds in a home in the 500-block of Third Avenue at around 10 p.m. on Sept. 29. Lapuz died several hours later in hospital.
Charles Jameson (Jamie) Neel, 20, was arrested by the RCMP's integrated homicide investigation team on Dec. 5 and charged with Lapuz's death.
Chief Sandra Laframboise of the Dancing To Eagle Spirit Society performed a ceremonial smudging at Saturday afternoon's ceremony. She said she was happy with Saturday's event.
"We had roughly 75 people turn out. It was big. It was so big that I had to contact the territorial chief, Rhonda (Larrabee) of the Qayqayt (First Nation) to request permission to hold the rally on their sacred lands."
Larrabee couldn't be present for the rally, but granted permission for the rally to go ahead.
One of the organizers, Leada Stray, talked at the rally and vowed to go to each of Neel's court appearances. Coun. Jaimie McEvoy also spoke at Saturday night's rally.
After the speeches at city hall, the group marched to the New Westminster courthouse for a candlelight vigil.
"A lot of people remembered January and showed their respect," said Laframboise, who also gave credit to the New Westminster Police Department for blocking the road so that the entire contingent could march as a group to the courthouse.