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A Way Home Kamloops held a press conference today where they addressed the tragic passing of their founder and Executive Director Katherine McParland.
Board Chair Louise Richards explained that the whole organization was grieving, though that was not going to stop them from "sharing Katherine's vision."
"Her whole life was committed to ending youth homelessness, she made no secret of that," said Richards. "She pursued it relentlessly. I think she made some people uncomfortable with her passion for it."
"It was what defined her. She raised across the country, certainly in BC and Kamloops, what a significant problem it is. I think that her defining legacy is really that we're all much more aware of the harm that is caused by youth homelessness and the extent of it in this country."
The organization could not speak to exactly when or how McParland died. They mentioned that, despite the heartwrenching circumstances, events like this week's campout for youth homelessness would still be happening as planned.
"The campout, the decision to continue with it, was actually not that difficult. The reason being that it was a way for us to look at carrying on Katherine's vision. The challenge that we were concerned about was whether, organizationally, we were in a position with how much of the planning was in place."
"We're happy that we were able to continue with it, knowing that it would be something that Katherine would be fully supportive of."
Today we mourn the loss of a powerful & dedicated colleague, Katherine McParland. She was a true crusader for Kamloops' most vulnerable & changed many lives through her work, courage & passion. Our hearts & thoughts go out to Katherine's friends & family in this difficult time.— A Way Home Canada (@AWayHomeCa) December 7, 2020
At this point, the organization has not begun a search for a new leader. They are still in the early process of helping those affected by McParland's death.
“This is a huge loss for so many in our community, and by extension, our province. Our heartfelt condolences to the family and many friends who are now mourning the loss of such a vibrant woman who has done so much in her life to advocate for the care of youth and to work to eradicate youth."
Richards went on to speak to how much McParland would be missed by the organization, community and everyone else she touched during her life.
Those looking to pay their respects can attend a vigil being held at the Kamloops Alliance Church between noon and 8 pm today as well as between 10 am and 5 pm Tuesday.