Christ Church Cathedral, one of Canada’s largest churches, not only accommodated the large community turnout but also has a close connection to the family. Six-year-old Chloe attended Grade 1 at Christ Church Cathedral School that sits on the corner of the cathedral grounds. (Keri Coles/Oak Bay News)

VIDEO: A thousand come out to honour Chloe and Aubrey Berry at public funeral

“We will be forever changed by this, but the question is how we change. And that is up to us”

Church bells tolled as Victoria’s Christ Church Cathedral filled to capacity today for the service honouring the lives of six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey Berry, two young sisters found dead on Christmas Day in their father’s Oak Bay apartment.

The first few rows of pews held close friends and family including the girls’ mother, Sarah Cotton, and many of the girls’ young friends from school. There was a sea of bright polka dot ribbons attached to lapels. Pictures of the girls were placed around the cathedral with flowers and boxes of kleenex. It was a difficult day for a tight community trying to come to terms with a loss of such magnitude.

Reverend Canon Susanne House set the tone of the ceremony by saying that it was a service of hope: hope for our children, and hope for ourselves. Touching and personal stories were shared by people close to the family, stories that conjured laughter and tears.

The choirs and musicians filled the cathedral with songs chosen personally by Cotton. Family friend Sandra Hudson gave the eulogy, sharing loving and humourous stories of Chloe and Aubrey Berry. The Very Reverend M. Ansley Tucker offered guidance to the reeling community.

“Our whole life compass has been scrambled,” said Rev. Tucker. “We will be changed forever but the question is how we change. And that is up to us.”

After the service, the community filed into the Christ Church Cathedral School gym where Chloe attended school. A circle of hugs and support encircled Sarah Cotton in the room decorated with rainbow coloured roses.

“We’ve taken a lot of care in planning over the last 10 days or so,” said family spokesperson Trisha Lees ahead of today’s public memorial service.

As expected by organizers, close to a thousand people flowed through the front doors of the church for the 11 a.m. service to celebrate the sisters.

Christ Church Cathedral School, where Chloe attended Grade 1, released the students today and the gymnasium was open for the reception following the service.

While Chloe attended Willows elementary for kindergarten, she loved her new school, Lees said.

“She really loved this school, she really thrived here,” Lees said. “The thing she was talking about most was learning French.”

While media were asked to remain outside the service, Hudson and Lees spoke to the media ahead of time.

“My most favourite memories of them are a series of them really, where we spent time at the beach,” Lees told the Oak Bay News. “They lived particularly close to Willows Beach and I have two little daughters as well so we would spend time on that beach all of us. Kids on a beach there’s nothing not to love about that.”

The girls’ father faces two charges of second-degree murder in their deaths.

 

Ryan MacDonald Photography Sarah Cotton with her daughters Chloe (left) and Aubrey (right) taken in October 2017.

Christ Church Cathedral, one of Canada’s largest churches, not only accommodated the large community turnout but also has a close connection to the family. Six-year-old Chloe attended Grade 1 at Christ Church Cathedral School that sits on the corner of the cathedral grounds. (Keri Coles/Oak Bay News)

Just Posted

Snow day? Saanich Peninsula schools will let you know of closures

Snow might stick overnight; no news from SD63 means schools are open

Sidney’s Desiree Young at her first BC Winter Games

Wheelchair basketball player has been on the court for about a year

Victoria cannabis advocates call proposed trust fund an ‘overreach’

BCICA says North Saanich councillor’s ideas on cannabis ‘cherry picking’

Victoria airport to spend $19.4m on terminal expansion

Record passenger growth means YYJ needs to grow

Snow cancels, alters transit routes across Greater Victoria

Buses will not be stopping on steep hills, says BC Transit

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Team USA beats Canada 3-2 on the shootout to take home Olympic gold

Americans win their first gold medal since 1998

Two Haida men detained for crossing U.S.-Canada border

Edenshaw and Frisby travelled from Alaska to Prince Rupert for the All Native Basketball Tournament

Alberta takes out full-page ads in B.C. over strained relationship

It’s the latest move between the two provinces over progress on Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

B.C. teacher suspended over allegedly using N-word in worksheets

Trafalgar Elementary teacher under investigation by Vancouver School Board

Toddler swept away in Ontario floods

Toddler missing as flooding forces thousands from their homes in Ontario

Inside the Olympic performance of the Island’s Teal Harle

Islander finishes fifth in Olympic Men’s Slopestyle final in Pyeong Chang

BC BUDGET: New money helps seniors’ care shortage

Job stability for care aides key to recruitment, union leader says

Most Read