‘My spirit hurts, I want her home’: Family shares pain, fond memories at vigil for April Parisian

A candle lit for April Parisian at a candlelight vigil Saturday, May 23 in Memorial Park. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
A missing person’s poster, marked by rain, on a car parked at a vigil for April Parisian, missing since early April. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Deedee Peters hands out candles and medicine bags to the over 50 people gathered, physically distanced, at Hope’s Memorial Park for April Parisian’s vigil. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Deedee Peters, right, with April’s sister Laura Hall, behind, hands out t-shirts with April Parisian’s photo and the text ‘Missing: April Lee-Ann Parisian’ printed on them to family gathered at a Saturday, May 23 vigil for her. A beautiful photo, Keitha said, with April wearing the sweater she gave her. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
“When April was around, we never saw her without a smile on her face. She was just a joy to be around,” Parisian’s cousin Jade McLean shared at the May 23 vigil. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Candles of all colours and sizes stayed lit an hour into the vigil for April Parisian in Hope’s Memorial Park. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Family and friends of April Lee-Ann Parisian light a heart made of candles for their loved one. The 45-year-old Spuzzum resident hasn’t been heard from since April 5. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Juanita Pete spoke at the vigil for April Lee-Ann Parisian May 23. Pete said what people are doing now - searching, gathering, holding vigils - is very important. Two years ago, Pete was in the same situation as Parisian’s family, searching for her missing niece Shawnee Inyallie. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Friends, including high school acquaintances, shared memories of April Parisian that elicited many laughs among the over 50 people gathered at Memorial Park Saturday, May 23. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Parisian’s mom Keitha Parisian shared that her daughter loved gardening, loved flowers and liked to enjoy life. “I loved her tremendously,” she said. “My spirit hurts, I want her home.” (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
April’s mom Keitha Parisian, right, and her sister-in-law Leeann Nett at Saturday, May 23 vigil for her. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Jade McLean spoke at a vigil for her cousin April Parisian, missing for over seven weeks from Spuzzum. “No one knew love or how to give love as much as April did,” McLean said, adding Parisian was also instrumental in her own spirituality. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Youngsters gathered near a heart made of candles at a vigil for April Parisian May 23. Parisian has been missing from Spuzzum since early April. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Some of the family, friends and community members gathered for a vigil for April Parisian Saturday, May 23 sang the warrior song at Hope’s Memorial Park. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Family say April Lee-Ann Parisian was last heard from April 5, she is a resident of the Fraser Canyon community of Spuzzum. Submitted photo

The Women’s Warrior song rang out across the rainy, desolate grounds of Hope’s Memorial Park Saturday. Desolate, save for a group of over 50 people who held red, white and blue candles with flames lit in the waning evening light.

They gathered, keeping the flames lit, as they shared memories of April Lee-Ann Parisian, who they haven’t heard from since early April. As the RCMP’s homicide team continues an investigation into her disappearance, family keep looking for her in community searches that stretch from the Fraser Canyon down into the Fraser Valley.

Read more: IHIT suspect foul play in case of missing Fraser Canyon woman

“She loved flowers, she loved gardening,” said Keitha Parisian, who raised April since she was three days old. She is both April’s grandmother and mother, she said, and “April is my baby.”

Keitha opened the Saturday candlelight vigil with stories about young April, stories which involved bringing her to powwows until the age of 16 when she asked her mom if she could stay home alone.

“I gave in and I said ‘Well, no more parties at home,’ I didn’t want any wild parties going on, ‘And definitely don’t drive my car,’” Keitha remembered.

“And what did she do? She drove my car and got in an accident with it and she nearly set the house on fire having a barbecue in the backyard,” she said, to laughs from those gathered.

Keitha also recalled her daughter helping her on the computer. Without April present, her Facebook accounts remain frozen, she can’t recall the passwords. “I loved her tremendously and I still do,” Keitha said.

“Her birthday is one day before mine, hers is on the 23rd of April and I’m on the 24th, and we always celebrated together and this year it didn’t happen,” she said, her voice choking up with emotion.

“I can’t talk about her anymore because it hurts me too much. My spirit hurts, I want her home. Even if she’s into the spirit world I want to have her back here so we can take care of her properly.”

Jade McLean said her cousin April was never without a smile on her face, “she was just a joy to be around.” And as McLean moved around throughout her life, contact from April was constant – asking how she was doing, encouraging her to keep in touch with her own spirituality. “I still hope that April will come home, because no one knew love or how to give love like April did,” McLean said Saturday.

April is described by police as an Indigenous female with blonde hair and blue eyes, 170 centimetres (5 feet 7 inches) tall, weighing 127 kilograms (280 pounds.) She is known to shop in Chilliwack and is a well-known face around Hope, but is generally a homebody at her home in Spuzzum.

Anyone with information should call the IHIT information line at 1-877-551-4448, or by email at ihitinfo@rcmp-grc.gc.ca. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).


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