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Condolences pour in for Canadian victim of London terror attack

The Canadian Press   Jun-05-2017

People attend a vigil for victims of Saturday's attack on London Bridge, at Potter's Field Park with Tower Bridge in the background in London, Monday, June 5, 2017.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Alastair Grant


Messages of sorrow and condolence have been pouring in following the death of a Canadian woman who was killed in Saturday's terror attack in the heart of London.

Christine Archibald, 30, was enjoying a warm spring night with her fiance, Tyler Ferguson, when she was struck by a speeding van that plowed into people strolling on London Bridge.

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Archibald was a social worker who worked with homeless people before moving to Europe to be with her fiance.

Archibald's family, who live in Castlegar, B.C., released a statement Sunday through the Canadian government.

"She had room in her heart for everyone and believed strongly that every person was to be valued and respected," the statement said. "She would have had no understanding of the callous cruelty that caused her death."

The family asked that people honour her memory by making the community a better place.

"Volunteer your time and labour or donate to a homeless shelter," the statement said. "Tell them Chrissy sent you."

Premier Rachel Notley said the London attack hit Alberta especially hard because Archibald was known and loved by so many in the province.

"She could have been any one of us and her tragic death has left our province shaken," she said in a release Monday.

"Albertans stand united with our friends in London and with everyone across the world who believes in the importance of free, open and caring societies."

On Twitter, people using the hashtag #Chrissysentme expressed their sadness for the family's loss, but many also said they were inspired by the call for meaningful action.

"In darkness we have a choice, to make the world a better place or let hate win," said one tweet. "Chrissy Archibald's family chose the former."

Some pledged to make donations to shelters, soup kitchens and other community groups.

"We have made a donation to our community food bank in honour of Christine Archibald," said one tweet. "I don't know what else to say except: #Chrissysentme."

Peter Choate, an assistant professor of social work at Mount Royal University, said he was receiving a steady flow of tweets, texts and Facebook messages from colleagues, past alumni and current students.

"She exemplified what matters to us in social work, and that's the capacity to see the challenging circumstances that someone finds themselves in and be prepared to work with them to cope as best they can with life's circumstances," he said.

"Being a social worker myself ... I've worked with people who've experienced this, and this changes the lives of those people — not just Christine's family, but all the families who've been affected by this. This is a day they'll never forget."

Choate acknowledges that people traumatized by such events face an uphill emotional struggle — one that can last for years —but he has some professional advice for those trying to cope.

"What's important for people who go through this kind of trauma is to stay connected, to talk and be aware of what you're feeling and to be honest about it, and to cry, and if you want to scream at the top of your lungs, scream at the top of your lungs."

Archibald's fiance had been walking a few steps ahead of her and escaped physical injury but suffered deep emotional wounds, his siblings said in a Facebook post.

"Last night in London my baby brother lost the love of his life on the London Bridge. In a split second his entire life was ripped away from him," wrote Cassie Ferguson Rowe, Ferguson's sister.

Choate said Archibald had a great deal of empathy for people in tough situations. She had worked successfully in the extremely tough environment of a Calgary shelter where the residents are permitted to be intoxicated when entering.

Kathy Christiansen, executive director of Alpha House in Calgary, said Archibald had worked at the non-profit until recently and would remain in the hearts of her friends and colleagues.

The young woman was a talented social worker and an "exceptional human being," Christiansen said in a statement.

"Chrissy was a bright light to many, and her generosity, kind spirit and huge heart for her work in responding to issues of addictions and homelessness at the centre inspired us all."

With files from Lauren Krugel in Calgary


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