A student posts a message on the "Strength Wall" at the UCalgary Strong Festival at the University of Calgary in Calgary

A student posts a message on the "Strength Wall" at the UCalgary Strong Festival at the University of Calgary in Calgary

‘A really hard day’: Calgary mayor reflects on anniversary of mass murder

Bouquets of flowers, dozens of candles and an unsigned note pinned to a tree were reminders left Wednesday outside a home where five young people were stabbed to death a year ago.

CALGARY — Bouquets of flowers, dozens of candles and an unsigned note pinned to a tree were reminders left Wednesday outside a home where five young people were stabbed to death a year ago.

“I did not know any of you when you were alive, but I am very grateful to be able to learn more about all of you now in the wake of this tragedy,” read the note underneath photos of the victims.

“You all lived good, happy, respectful lives. From the outpouring of emotion, and from all the words I have read, your friends and family were very proud of you. I feel very proud to have had such amazing young people amongst us.

“None of you deserved this. None of you will be forgotten. Go in peace.”

Last April, the four-bedroom home with stucco and blue siding was surrounded by yellow police tape. On Wednesday, two trucks sat in the driveway and the tree-lined street was silent.

Lawrence Hong, 27; Josh Hunter, 23; Kaitlin Perras, 23; Zackariah Rathwell, 21; and Jordan Segura, 22, were at a house party to mark the end of the school year when they were attacked by an individual who was an invited guest.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi attended a private memorial service, which included friends and families of the victims.

“It’s a hard day. It’s a really hard day,” he said.

“I asked them all how have things been going and how are you doing? As one can expect it varies. There are good days and bad days and it was a tough day for many of them,” he said.

“Universally they are happy to remember the support they received from the other young people, from the friends of those we lost and from the community as a whole.”

The University of Calgary marked the anniversary by announcing a new festival to be called UCalgaryStrong and which is to focus on fostering student well-being and resiliency.

“This is a day … that you don’t want to have to relive,” said university president Elizabeth Cannon.

“It was tragic for us on campus, but also for all of Calgary, and certainly nationwide. The last year has been a roller-coaster. We had a lot of ups and downs.”

Students’ union president Jarett Henry said no one was immune to what happened.

“It’s been tough. I remember waking up last year with phone calls and texts from my mum and friends asking what happened, where are you and are you OK?” he recalled.

“I think every single student on campus had that experience and we’ve been living with it ever since.”

Matthew de Grood, the son of a veteran Calgary police officer, faces five counts of first-degree murder.

A date for his trial is to be set next month.

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