Under chilly winds and storm-tossed skies there were tears, babes in arms and many young mothers at a vigil held Thursday night for the children of Lisa and Brian Gibson.
"We’re a group of mommies on Facebook and we were talking about what we could do; we’re all feeling a little helpless and we felt a need to do something for Lisa and those poor babies," said Lauren Hope, one of the vigil's organizers.
Missing since Wednesday morning, Lisa Gibson remained the subject of a massive police search in Winnipeg Thursday.
The 32-year-old mother was last seen at her Coleridge Park Drive home where police, summoned with a 911 hang-up, found her three-month-old baby boy and two-year-old daughter critically injured in a bathtub Wednesday. Police later confirmed the childrens' deaths.
That harrowing scene, widely reported, was combined Thursday with confirmation Gibson was being treated for postpartum depression at the time of the childrens' deaths.
It was a combination that moved the Facebook group of young mothers to organize the vigil.
Along with neighbours, 30 to 40 people huddled under the sheltered alcove at the front doors of the Winnipeg Mennonite Elementary and Middle School at 7 p.m.
"I didn’t know (Lisa), but I feel saddened," said an older woman who gave her name as Vivian as people waited for the vigil to begin. "She would be a few years older than our daughter, but she could be any one of our daughters."
In the half-hour event, the group first observed a moment of silence and then sang the hymn Amazing Grace, reading the verses off damp sheets of paper they’d copied out for distribution.
The hymn, with its yearning lyrics of redemption, was a deliberate choice of song, organizers said.
"We want to send a message to the family and to Lisa, that we understand. We want to take the stigma out of postpartum depression and we want to defictionalize motherhood. We don’t come out of the hospital with our hair all coiffed," Hope said. "if there’s a message we want to get out it is that mental illness not an illness one is, it’s an illness one has. If you need help, seek help and don’t judge," she said.