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Family of Port Alberni child killed in 2018 asks for memorial park space

Port Alberni city council plans to find a space to honour Dontay-Patrick Lucas
Patrick Lucas, Dontay’s father, stands at the microphone on Monday, Jan. 29, while other members of Dontay’s family sit in the audience for support. (SCREENSHOT)

Family members of the late Dontay Lucas want to make sure his legacy lives on in the Alberni Valley.

His family attended a committee of the whole meeting on Monday, Jan. 29 and asked Port Alberni city council to dedicate a space in the community to celebrate Dontay’s life.

Dontay-Patrick Lucas was just six years old in 2018 when he was found in medical distress at the home of his mother Rykel Charleson and his stepfather Mitchell Frank. Both Charleson and Frank have pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Dontay’s death. Their sentencing is scheduled for May of this year.

READ MORE: Mother, stepfather charged in death of 6-year-old Port Alberni boy

READ MORE: Mom, stepdad plead guilty in 2018 death of Port Alberni boy

Family members took turns on Monday sharing their memories of Dontay, who would have turned 12 last year. A common theme emerged from their memories: Dontay was a happy, playful boy with an infectious smile.

“If you’ve seen pictures of him, you’ll see him smiling all the time,” said Karen Ruttan, Dontay’s former foster mother. “He was quite rambunctious.”

Patrick Lucas, Dontay’s father, said Dontay loved his Hesquiaht culture and was interested in singing and dancing.

“He was a happy little boy,” said Lucas. “He walked into the room, he would light the room up. He was a very energetic boy. There was no keeping him still.”

Graham Hughes, a representative for the family, said he didn’t know Dontay well, but often saw him on the bus while they were both taking public transit.

“Despite what he was dealing with at home, he gave everyone a smile,” Hughes recalled.

Dontay’s family is now proposing that the city create a space dedicated to happiness and joy in Port Alberni by naming a park or playground in memory of Dontay-Patrick Lucas.

“We want him to be remembered, and we want his memory to be preserved in a way that promotes joy,” said Hughes. “We want a space where people can laugh and play and create memories with their families the way that Dontay was able to with his family.”

Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions said she loved the concept. She pointed out that the city has a few parks that it is hoping to upgrade soon, and suggested that one of them could be renamed. The city currently does not have an official policy about naming playgrounds and parks, she added.

READ MORE: Westporte residents in Port Alberni concerned by park closures

“I think the meaningful work will be with us communicating with the family and getting a better understanding of what might be meaningful, rather than just picking a space,” said Minions.

Although committee of the whole meetings can’t make decisions, the committee recommended beginning the process of engaging with Dontay’s family to find a space to dedicate to celebrating Dontay’s life.

The meeting took place just a couple weeks after Dontay’s family launched a petition online asking the province to conduct a full investigation into Dontay’s death. That petition can be found at

Elena Rardon

About the Author: Elena Rardon

I have worked with the Alberni Valley News since 2016.
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