N.S. girl killed at Santa Claus parade remembered as 'awesome big sister'
A four-year-old girl who was killed by a float at the Santa Claus parade in Yarmouth, N.S., over the weekend is being remembered as an “awesome big sister” who “loved helping other people.”
MaCali Cormier, who would have turned five in January, died in hospital after the incident on Saturday night, which has left the 6,500-person fishing town in shock.
An online obituary says that MaCali “loved school” and “had a passion for swimming, camping at Ellenwood Park, horse riding, dancing and watching YouTube videos, most of which she did with her cousin Payton, whom she idolized.”
“MaCali will be remembered as an awesome big sister to Tessa and Matthew Cormier,” the obituary goes on. “Most of all, MaCali will be remembered as a little girl who loved helping other people,” it states.
Donations in honour of MaCali can be made to a trust fund for Tessa and Matthew at Huskilson's Funeral Home in Yarmouth, according to the obituary.
Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood told CTV’s Your Morning on Monday that the community is saddened but grateful for the support it has received.
“The outpouring has been humbling,” she said, adding that other mayors and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had reached out.
“I just want folks to know, ‘thank you’ and I wonder how much they know how much [their support] means,” Mood said.
On Facebook, a fundraising campaign was started by Sean Kendra Mills, a father and fisherman from Yarmouth, who said he was at the parade but only heard about the girl’s death later on.
“I know we as fishermen can’t agree on much but we can agree a tragedy is a tragedy,” he wrote Sunday morning. “And as most people know by now what happened last to that young girl. So how about we try to help this family out with some donations to help cover cost of (the) funeral.”
He added that donations are being collected by the Huskilsons Funeral Home under the name, “MaCali.”
Because the incident was witnessed by hundreds of onlookers, including small children, RCMP Cpl. Dal Hutchinson told CTV Atlantic on Sunday that it was “something that has a traumatic impact on everyone.”
He encouraged people to “talk to others about how they're feeling.”
Mood echoed those sentiments, saying their “focus is on the tragedy. Making sure everyone is OK.”
All of the town’s schools have been closed on Monday, but Mood said grief counselors will be available for students when they return to school Tuesday.
“That’s community supporting community,” Mood said. She said 40 people attended a grief session on Sunday where trained therapists set out to help “folks understand that everyone grieves differently … and that we have to get it all out.”
A candlelight vigil is planned for Monday night.
On social media, there’s been a galvanizing effect from the tragedy with many online asking to donate money to go towards funeral costs for the yet unnamed little girl.
Mood said she “it matters to feel those warm arms around you” and called Yarmouth a “resilient community.”
“It’s just bonding. It brings everyone together … and I think it makes folks count their blessings in the midst of this.” She said hearing from people across Canada helps because “it’s a hard old place to be right now.”
As for the investigation into how the tragedy occurred, Mood said she was deferring to law enforcement to determine how the girl was so close to the float.
The incident happened at happened at one of the town’s busiest intersections, but the mayor said safety measures were in place.
RCMP’s Cpl. Hutchinson said the girl was running alongside a parade float when she fell under it at the Parade of Lights on Saturday. The girl was rushed to hospital and died a short time later.
The investigation is ongoing and he said they will eventually take statements from the girl's parents and the person driving the float.
With files from CTV Atlantic and The Canadian Press