A sombre gathering was held in Leduc, Alta., Thursday night to honour a teenage girl who died after being stabbed in her school.
Hundreds gathered at Telford Lake to pay tribute to a life lost much too soon.
Jennifer Winkler, known as Jenny to those who loved her, was stabbed and killed at her Leduc high school on Monday. Those who knew her said the 17-year-old was full of life.
Her friends said if they were in a bad mood, she could turn it around and make them laugh. They also noted her laugh was contagious.
“She could put a smile on my face any day, whether I was sad, mad… I was always happy around her,” Journie White said. “She was just a delight and joyful to be around.”
White met Winkler when they were in Grade 4. They had countless sleepovers together and made lots of good memories.
“He favourite (TV) show was 911, and we used to watch all the seasons together and she would always laugh,” White said. “She loved her hairless cat too, so we spent a lot of time with him.
“She always put a smile on everyone’s face and she wasn’t the type of person that would get involved with beef or anything. All she ever wanted to do was live her life and move out with us and graduate.”
White, along with mutual friend Erika Williams, planned the memorial for Winkler. Williams and Winkler had been friends since they were toddlers.
“We’ve grown up together, and we’ve never fought or anything… just being around her made me happy,” Williams said.
The girls said they felt they had to do something for their friend and came up with the idea to plan a balloon launch. Those who attended the tribute wrote messages on their balloon.
Jenny Winkler’s family was also there. Her dad, Dale Winkler, wrote “Dad, Dad, Dad, Loves, Loves, Loves you.” He said it was an inside joke between the two of them.
Earlier in the week, Dale Winkler said he was grateful for the outpouring of support from the community, and from people from all over the world. He said it has been a source of comfort during the nightmare he said he is now living through.
After the balloons were let go in to the sky on Thursday, people in attendance went to a dock and put a flower into the lake.
“‘It was amazing,” White said. “Jenny loved us with all her heart, so we planned this just for her so that she could be watching over us.
“It made me feel like she’s receiving all these balloons, and that she knows we are still watching over her, and we care about her.”
RCMP have charged 19-year-old Dylan Thomas Pountney in the death of Winkler. Pountney is facing one count of first-degree murder. Police said the two students knew each other but have not said how.
Winkler’s family has created a GoFundMe page to help cover the cost of her funeral.
Watch below: (From March 17, 2021) In a moment no parent should ever have to face, an Alberta father is honouring the memory of his little girl after she was stabbed to death. Police say Jennifer Winkler was killed in a classroom at the hands of a fellow student. Her father wants to people to know how special she was. Sarah Komadina has more.
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