A woman who has gone through loss of her own is coming to the aid of the parents of a young girl who died in a tragic Christmas parade accident in Yarmouth, N.S.
The small town of 7,000 people was left devastated when four-year-old MaCali Cormier died Saturday night after she fell under the wheels of a float during the annual Parade of Lights.
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Sarah Robicheau says she understands the intense pain the loss of a child can bring, after experiencing a stillbirth in 2012 and the loss of an infant to SIDS just two years later.
“I know the heartache and what’s to come,” she said.
“When I had my loss, there was not really any resources in Yarmouth for child loss, so I kind of left the hospital empty handed, with nothing, and not really anywhere to go to.”
A candlelight vigil was to be held at Frost Park in Yarmouth Monday night in memory of MaCali, a pre-primary student who was the oldest of three children.
Grief counsellors were to be dispatched to local schools on Tuesday, when students return from a previously scheduled day off.
“Members of our crisis management team will be in schools on Tuesday morning to provide support for our staff and students,” the Tri-County Regional Centre for Education said in a statement.
WATCH: Candlelight vigil held in Yarmouth, N.S., to honour memory of child killed during Santa Claus parade
Robicheau, 29, along with another friend who lost a child to SIDS, started Anchor for Hope, a non-profit organization that provides support for parents who have experienced child and infant loss, as well as stillbirths and miscarriages.
This support comes in the form of “Hope Boxes” – packages given out at hospitals filled with comfort items like bubble bath and chocolates, as well as a list of resources for parents grieving the loss of a child. They also make meals for families in mourning.
The day after Saturday’s tragedy, Robicheau made a social media request asking people to donate food items for meals for MaCali’s grieving family.
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“When you’re grieving the loss of a child, it’s really hard to remember to feed yourself, along with other children in the home,” she said.
“It’s just kind of a way to say, ‘We’re here, we love you,’ and just to offer support.”
She said the request was met with a lot of response, and Anchor for Hope had enough food to provide the family with supper every night until the end of December.
Since Saturday, condolences have poured in from across the country and the rest of the world.
“Not only is Canada and everybody in Canada grieving over this, but everyone around the world is also grieving about this,” said Devan Boudreau, a close family friend who had known MaCali since her birth.
Boudreau, 29, said MaCali was a friendly, happy girl who always wanted to be part of what was going on.
“She was a very, very great kid. So full of love and life. It’s unbelievable. Even if you were a stranger and you walked by her in the mall, and you looked at her, she’d say hi or give you a hug,” Boudreau said.
H.M. Huskilson’s funeral home in Yarmouth has chosen to absorb the funeral costs, and instead, donations can be made to a trust fund for Cormier’s younger siblings.