Library homicide victim laid to rest in Sprague
A Winnipeg homicide victim will be laid to rest in the Southeast, close to loved ones and away from the city where he lost his life.
Tania Cayer brought her son Tyree’s remains to the quiet plains of Sprague, where she’s lived since 2021, to keep him close to places he grew up coming to.
Tania’s decision to bury her son with her instead of where he lived comes, in part, because she is “fed up” with the chaos in Winnipeg.
“Tyree’s home is here now, with me,” Tania said in a phone call with The Carillon.
Tyree was killed in an attack at the Millennium Library in Winnipeg in December 2022 which has since gained wide-spread coverage and discussions about the safety of the downtown library.
Four youths, two 14-year-olds and a 15 and 16-year-old, have been charged in connection to the incident. None of the charges have been tested in court.
Instead of making his final resting place Winnipeg, Tania brought her son to a place she has fond memories of with him. With family residing in the area, Tania and Tyree spent time outdoors in Sprague, Vassar and Buffalo Point when Tyree was growing up.
Tyree, only three months shy of his 29th birthday when he died, lived by the seat of his pants, his mother said.
“He truly was like a Robin Hood. He just thought he could save the world,” Tania said.
An “athletically-gifted” teen, Tyree was a star football player at Elmwood High School, where he graduated in 2012.
Not wanting to pursue the sport professionally, he opted for a junior league in BC. An ankle injury brought him home, then back to the West coast a few more times to try and make something of himself.
The death of his aunt, Tania’s sister, in 2017 was somewhat of a breaking point for him, his mother said.
Tyree was diagnosed bipolar and struggled with homelessness. At the time of his death he was living in an apartment, but found himself pushed out by people he brought in who also didn’t have homes.
“He kind of took on this persona, where he wanted to just help everybody and save everybody in any way he could,” Tania said.
At the time of his death, Tyree was accessing Wi-Fi at the library to message friends and make plans to watch football later that night. He never made it out of the public space.
The Millennium Library shuttered for six weeks after the attack before reopening to the public last Monday, with enhanced security including walk-through metal detectors, security screenings and uniformed police officers.
Tania is angry about her son’s death, and for good reason.
She left a career of social work in Winnipeg because she was fed up with rising crime in the city, only for her son to lose his life at the hands of someone else. Tyree was the city’s 51st homicide victim of 2022.
“I was put in a lot of pretty scary situations and it was nothing,” she said. “Now, are you joking? I lock my door driving down the Perimeter.”
She moved to Vassar after her sister’s death to be closer to family. Now, she couldn’t imagine living in Winnipeg again.
“You couldn’t pay me to go back to the city.”
She did, however, go back to the city, albeit briefly, for a memorial event at Tyree’s alma mater on Jan. 11. His football jersey and number, 33, were retired and friends and family shared memories of their loved one.
“Hearing those stories, they helped me because it helps me realize that he was just too big for here,” Tania said.
“He was the big fish in the little pond.”
The two had been estranged for two years. In the months leading up to his death they exchanged messages here and there, but now they are together in a different way: Tyree’s cremated remains will be in Sprague with her.
Tania will also bring some of Tyree’s ashes out to Buffalo Point to spread, a place her son was fond of, she said, leaving a small part of him all around her.
“I don’t really believe in heaven, I don’t believe in God, but I certainly believe that he is in everything and everywhere now. He has to be.”