It was a little too windy for candles, but white daisies, lilies and carnations abounded at a vigil Thursday night for Lisa Gibson and her two children.
About 200 people, including many new mothers and pregnant women, gathered at The Forks, filing down to the Red River to lay the flowers on the water’s surface.
The Sidhu family was already at The Forks when they came across the vigil and took a seat on the steps.
"There’s the daily rush of life, but when you see something like this you stop, take a breath and appreciate and try to remember," said Mick Sidhu as he tried to corral his youngest daughter, Hannah.
Sidhu’s wife, Marilyn, is a pharmacist like Gibson and deals with patients with mental-health issues. She also remembers being a new mom.
"I was talking to my friends, and we all shared the stories — the sleep deprivation, the first six week that are a blur. I’ve been there. So you feel a certain degree of kinship and empathy," said Marilyn Sidhu.
Thursday night’s vigil was the second such gathering since the Gibson children died July 24. There has also been an open house hosted by Winnipeg police and social services agencies to help Winnipeggers cope with their grief, as well as Thursday’s packed memorial service for Gibson and her children in Stonewall.
The outpouring of support from the community hasn’t gone unnoticed by the grieving family.
The pile of stuffed toys, notes of condolence and photos near the Gibsons’ Westwood home was gone Thursday, replaced with a personal note from the family.
"Thank you for your understanding and compassion as we come to terms with our loss," the note reads. "Your generous tributes to Lisa, Anna and Nicholas have been donated to Child and Family Services in the hopes of helping other families in need.
"Your thoughts and prayers have brought us comfort in this tragic time, and we are thankful for the support of the community."
Karla Penner, a mother of three and one of the vigil’s organizers, said the event was meant in part to honour the mother many people knew Gibson to be.
"I’ve been amazed at the outpouring of support and people’s desire to do something," Penner told the crowd.
Following Penner, new mother Nicole Gamble, whose son Oliver is now 16 months, spoke about her own battle with postpartum depression, calling it "the darkest, loneliest, most terrifying place on earth."
Many at the vigil said the tragedy’s only silver lining has been a citywide discussion about postpartum depression and psychosis. Several mothers at Thursday’s vigil said they’d struggled with similar mental illnesses and are glad so many people are now speak up about it.
"Sadly, it sometimes takes things like this to get people talking and to bring people together," said Jillian Hill, who overcame anxiety following the birth of her two children. "The more we talk about it, the less stigmatizing it will be."