'Her life did matter:' Public memorial held for Regis Korchinski-Paquet
Published Saturday, July 25, 2020 6:06AM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, July 25, 2020 6:20PM EDT
A public memorial was held Saturday afteroon for Regis Korchinski-Paquet, the 29-year-old woman who fell to her death from a Toronto balcony while police were in her apartment two months ago.
More than 100 people gathered outside Korchinski-Paquet's apartment building at 100 High Park Avenue for the memorial and the first annual Regis Korchinski-Paquet Walk For Justice.
The family, dressed in white, arrived at the memorial along with a horse-drawn carriage carrying a white casket.
People brought flowers and carried signs that say, "defund the police," and "justice for Regis."
Led by her brother Reece, the family performed a song dedicated to Korchinski-Paquet, who always loved music.
"The song came out amazing," Reece said. "Regis helped me write the song."
Called "Justice for Regis," Reece noted that each family member had a part in writing the song.
Renee Korchinski said it was beautiful and amazing to see how many people came to the memorial to show their love to the family and her sister.
She said the family organized the event to honour Korchinski-Paquet.
"We have to give her a proper send-off," Renee said. "We just wanted her to know that we really really love her. We did this all for you. We love you, Regis."
She said what the family wants to see now is justice for Korchinski-Paquet because "her life did matter."
Following the memorial, the family and attendees marched towards High Park, where there were speakers and performances.
Backed by the beat of drums, attendees loudly chanted "Regis Korchinski-Paquet," "Regis, you matter here," and "Black lives they matter here."
The event, which began at 1 p.m., was supported by Black Lives Matter Toronto.
Rodney Diverlus, the co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto, said the memorial was held to let the family and community members heal and grieve while at the same time demand justice for Korchinski-Paquet.
Diverlus said it had been two months since her death, and the family has not received any answers.
"As a community, we thought it was important whether we knew Regis or not to come here in the spirit of love, in the spirit of healing in the spirit of togetherness and community to show up and to show up with our bodies and to show up with our voices and to let the family know that we won't stop, all of us, until we get justice for Regis," he said.
They are also calling for an end to constant deaths of Black and Indigenous people at the hands of police.
"She was only 29. She's loved, she's missed. And everyone here whether they know her or not are here in her name and will continue to keep the fight alive," Diverlus said.
Korchinski-Paquet died on the evening of May 27 after falling from the balcony of her apartment.
Her family previously indicated that she was suffering from a mental health crisis at the time and her mother told reporters that she called police in the hope that officers would diffuse the situation and take her daughter to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).
While few details about the incident have been released by police, Korchinski-Paquet died minutes after officers arrived at her apartment that night.
Korchinski-Paquet’s family has questioned the role police played in her death and the province’s police watchdog is currently investigating.
The results of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) probe are expected sometime in the next few weeks.
Knia Singh, the lawyer representing Korchinski-Paquet’s family, told reporters earlier this month that he has assembled a legal team to conduct a secondary investigation into the 29-year-old woman’s death.
The family has ordered a second autopsy and the SIU indicated that it will not release the results of its investigation until the second post-mortem examination is complete.
Speaking to CP24 at the memorial, Singh said they decided to conduct a second autopsy to verify or catch anything that the first autopsy may have missed.
Due to the nature of SIU investigations, Singh said they have been in left the dark when it comes to officers' statements, notes and other evidence.
"We'll have to have faith in the SIU that they'll do their investigation thoroughly, and they ask all the pertinent questions," he said.
"If they don't, and we don't get the result that is just and fair, there's always the inquest. But we'd rather make sure that people are held accountable because tragedies like this can't continue to happen."
Singh said there's got to be some responsibility held for officers who were in the unit at the time Korchinski-Paquet's death.
"Accountability is explaining exactly what happened and how it happened and why it happened. I think that No matter what is said by the police, there is a failure in regards to protecting Regis' life," he said.
Singh said the family will never get the justice they deserve if no one is held accountable by their actions.
"In this case, whoever made the key mistakes, whoever may have acted improperly, and wherever improper steps were taken during the procedure, that's what has to be called out, that's what has to be reprimanded, that's what has to be stopped."
Speaking at a news conference earlier this month, Korchinski-Paquet’s father Peter Korchinski described his daughter as a kind and generous person who was the “nucleus” of their family.
“I just want to tell my daughter I love her very much and I will never stop fighting for you until the day I die,” he said tearfully.
“I just hope everyone comes out on July 25 to support us and put an end to this system of racism in Canada and all over the world.”
High Park Avenue is currently closed between Bloor and Dundas streets for the memorial.