Churches open doors in wake of Oak Bay double homicide

Oak Bay United offers a place to talk or pray to 6 p.m. Dec. 28

Oak Bay United Church opens its doors tomorrow for those looking to start the healing in the wake of tragedy in Oak Bay.

“When something like this happens, especially so close to us it reminds us that all of our lives are fragile and that can be very isolating,” said Rev. Michelle Slater, Oak Bay United Church.

The region mourns as the BC Coroner services investigate what, while no charges have been laid, Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crimes Unit confirmed as a double homicide.

On Christmas Day, the children were in the care of their father, Andrew Berry, at his apartment on the corner of Beach Drive and Goodwin. The girls were supposed to go home to their mother’s on Christmas afternoon and didn’t arrive. Cotton contacted the Oak Bay Police who responded to Berry’s apartment where the bodies of the two girls as well as an injured man was found. The injured man was taken to hospital. Details on his injuries have not been released.

RELATED: Young victims of Oak Bay homicide were ‘lively, energetic and silly girls’

Christ Church Cathedral opened its doors today (Dec. 27) to hundreds of community members, friends and classmates who went to school with Chloe and Aubrey for a vigil.

Victoria City councillor Chris Coleman, acting as liaison to the media assembled outside asked reporters to respect the wishes of mourners.

“They’re processing something so unimaginable,” he said.

Oak Bay United, at Granite and Mitchell streets, opens its doors tomorrow, Dec. 28.

This kind of tragedy “it can drive us inward and keep us from reaching out to other people, but in reaching out to others feeling the same way we will find support and healing,” Slater said, adding what is not helpful is a rush to find an easy answer or platitudes. “We really do need to sit in the sorrow and horror of it.”

The sanctuary will be open until 6 p.m. Dec. 28 with the lower hall offering a more informal setting for those who want to gather and talk.

“I’ll be in and out during the day for people who might want to speak or pray,” Slater said. “We are about creating communities of support and care.”

“We’re especially holding the first responders in prayer as well. To have that be your Christmas Day shift is pretty traumatizing as well,” Slater added.

Oak Bay Police Department follows a Critical Incident Stress Model to ensure officers are well cared for, says the deputy chief.

“While our focus and that of the community needs to be on the loved ones who are suffering such a devastating loss as well as the greater impact within our community, I can assure you that we have engaged experts in the field of critical incident stress management and we’re following every step of their counsel,” said Deputy Chief Ray Bernoties.

The District of Oak Bay responded with a candle light vigil set for Saturday at Willows Beach, a place the girls reportedly loved to visit.

Residents are asked to bring a candle for a vigil Saturday, Dec. 30 at 7 p.m. at Willows Beach to remember Aubrey and Chloe.
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