Friends and neighbours of all ages and different backgrounds gathered in North Central Regina on Wednesday night to remember a murder victim known for his kindness and generosity.
Andre Aubertin was killed outside his home on Princess Street last week. His friends knew him as ‘Frenchy’.
Frenchy had a tradition of hosting barbecues to watch his favourite sports teams – the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Montreal Canadiens. So a barbecue was a fitting goodbye for a large crowd of friends and neighbours who gathered on the street outside his house.
“Very loving person yeah, he was always helpful. He would help anybody,” said Cal Ullrich.
He said he met Aubertin a few years ago and they became close friends going to hockey and football games.
“To say the words ‘I love you’ came easy to him, and it never came easy to me, but he taught me that, gave me that gift I think,” Ullrich said.
When he heard the news that his friend had been murdered, he said he couldn’t believe it because he was so friendly and he wouldn’t turn anybody away from his house.
“He was a great man, he never had a bad word to say about anybody, he welcomed everyone into his home,” agreed Wade Gowsell, another close friend who spent a lot of time watching sports with Aubertin.
He said he will be greatly missed by everyone in the community.
“This is beautiful, it just shows all the support and how many people cared for Andre, and it’s a good thing, we’ve got to keep doing this,” Gowsell added.
Aubertin’s murder has also sparked a renewed outcry for change.
A group of community advocates helped to organize the vigil to mark what they describe as the second senseless death in North Central this year and to call for the violence and ongoing killings to stop in the community. It was the second vigil for a murder victim held this year.
As the last rays of the setting sun shone through the clouds and the trees on Princess Street, First Nations leaders, elders, advocates, police officers, and even two Buhddist monks joined in a round dance that took up half the block with many of Aubertin’s closest relatives, friends and neighbours.
A round dance in North Central in honour of Andre Aubertin. pic.twitter.com/HpzZ1U1OEQ
— Adriana Christianson (@AdrianaC_JME) April 7, 2016
Max Itittakoose was Aubertin’s father in law. He says there is a wider message here.
“We need to stop and you know, and work together to try and end the violence that’s happening, not only in the cities but also in the surrounding areas,” he said.
He said gatherings like this one help because the whole community comes together in solidarity to show that they care.
“I think this is why we’re all here today, to support one another in a time of need, to try to bring some kind of closure to what is going on and to try to find some kind of realistic solution to the problem,” Itittakoose explained.
He said it’s important to love, understand and support one another.
“No matter what nationality you are, in a time of need, everybody pulls together and you know, tries to understand what’s happening,” he said.
Two men are facing second degree murder charges in Aubertin’s death.