Jessica Sherman is pictured here with her brother Harwin Baringh in August 2014, two months before he was killed. She is tying a string on his wrist, a symbolic promise of protection.

Candlelight vigil in Abbotsford remembers those lost to gang violence

Organizer says event gives perspective to drug and gang epidemic

Kids Play Foundation holds a candlelight vigil in Abbotsford on Sunday, Oct. 13 for families to talk about and grieve the loss of their loved ones to gangs.

The event, titled Labelled: Caught in the Crossfire, starts at 4 p.m. at Abbotsford Civic Plaza, 32315 South Fraser Way.

Jessica Sherman of Kids Play said the event will provide a safe place for families to “speak their truth, share their sorrow and celebrate the lives of their lost children.”

“This conversation will be integral in removing the labels, shifting the narrative, and revisiting the usage of the word ‘gangster,’” she said.

Sherman said she wants people to attend the event to “gain an informed perspective of the drug and gang epidemic so we can combat it before another youth falls victim.”

Among the speakers will be Ken Dosanjh, the brother of Ron and Jimmy Dosanjh, who died in gang-related killings within two months of each other in 1994.

RELATED: Sister of teen gunned down in 2014 aims to keep kids out of gangs

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Sherman’s cousin Harwin Baringh, whom she refers to as her brother, was gunned down on Sparrow Drive in west Abbotsford on Oct. 2, 2014 at the age of 18. She and her family do not believe that the bullets were intended for him.

Sherman said Baringh had begun associating with a different group of people in the months before he died.

Nobody has been arrested or charged in relation to his death.

Sherman said Baringh and others in these circumstances are often referred to as “gangsters.”

“The public is quick to dismiss such homicides because ‘gangsters’ should anticipate untimely demises as an outcome of their affiliations or criminal actions,” she said.

But Sherman said the public rarely hears that the individual had an identity beyond that.

Baringh, for example, was an “honest, compassionate, determined young man” who had spent the previous seven summers working 12 hours a day on a farm.

Before he was killed, he had been excited about pursuing post-secondary education in Calgary in January 2015, Sherman said.

She said vulnerable youth can sometimes get mixed up with the wrong group, as they look for a sense of belonging.

“These blinders of loyalty prevent them from distinguishing right from wrong or detecting any underlying motives of this group of people.”

Sherman is the director of operations for the Abbotsford chapter of Kids Play Foundation, an organization aimed at keeping kids out of gangs and away from drugs and violence.

Contact jessica@kidsplayfoundation.com for more info.

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