Linda Treverton didn't know Ana Márquez-Greene, but on a cold Monday night she brought purple candles to the University of Winnipeg to honour the little girl killed in the mass shooting in Connecticut.
Purple was the favourite colour of the six-year-old former Winnipegger, one of 20 children killed last Friday in Newtown, Conn.
"My heart is just so sad and devastated by the whole episode," said Treverton, among the more than 100 people who attended an outdoor vigil at the U of W's Aurora Family Centre where Ana's mother, Nelba, worked for two years before the family moved back to the U.S.
The deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary rocked Newtown and reverberated around the world, but Ana's death provided a local connection to the story that cut deeply for so many in Winnipeg, whether or not they knew the Greene family.
"I haven't been (in Winnipeg) that long, but I really feel like this has become my home, so this really hit hard," Treverton said.
Ana's father, Jimmy Greene, taught in the faculty of music at the University of Manitoba for three years before moving his family back to his home state. The Hartford native is now a music professor and assistant jazz program coordinator at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Conn.
Ana's older brother, Isaiah, in Grade 3, also attended Sandy Hook but was not hurt.
Alys-Lynne West, a close friend of the Greene family, said Ana was just like her mother -- smart, generous and full of life.
"She was spunky, very, very smart... very articulate," West said.
Alys-Lynne's husband, Steve West, said the little girl loved music, just like her saxophonist father.
"She loved to sing... loved to dance," he said.
One memory Alys-Lynne holds closely is spending a Canada Day with Ana and Isaiah -- with the smiling girl strolling down Osborne Street with Maple Leafs painted on her hands and face.
"We met a fireman who gave them each caps, and then they climbed in the fire truck at the station, and were honking the horn and having a wonderful time," she said.
The Wests have spoken with the Greene family, and said they have been relying on their strong religious faith to cope with their incredible loss.
"Faith is what they're really leaning on very hard right now," Steve said.
Ana's parents posted a video online of their children at the piano -- Ana is seen singing a hymn, while her brother plays.
"Nelba and Jimmy ask this of us -- share this (video) far and wide. Let the world know the victims, not the shooter," Alys-Lynne told the vigil.
Isaiah is hoping some of his former school friends in Winnipeg might fly to Connecticut to attend his sister's funeral. Alys-Lynne told Monday night's crowd she received some good news on that front shortly after doing a television interview.
"I received a phone call from a woman in Ontario who had seen the interview and wants to help by donating her air points for these children," she said.
Today, the U of M's Marcel A. Desautels Faculty of Music is hosting a memorial concert and vigil to honour the life and spirit of Ana.
The vigil and concert begin at 7 p.m. at Eva Clare Hall, 65 Dafoe Rd., on the Fort Garry campus.
This concert is open to all, although organizers have asked that cameras and recording devices not be used so those attending can pay their respects without being disturbed.
"At the University of Manitoba, the death of Ana Márquez-Greene is very personal for the many friends of Jimmy Greene who were taught by him or worked with him... " said president and vice-chancellor Dr. David T. Barnard.
Late Monday, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger asked that flags at the legislative building be flown at half-mast for the rest of the week out of respect for the victims of the tragedy.
-- with files from The Canadian Press