Ottawa Community Unites in Grief: Vigil Held for Family Lost in City’s Tragic Mass Killing


Ottawa-area residents and the local Sri Lankan community came together on Saturday to honor a family tragically killed, laying flowers, gifts, and prayers at a vigil. This act of remembrance was for a family victim to one of the city’s most devastating mass murders in recent memory.

Amidst the drizzle, a crowd convened at Palmadeo Park in Barrhaven, mourning the loss of a young mother, her four children, and a close family friend who were all fatally attacked Wednesday night. A 19-year-old from Sri Lanka, who resided with the deceased at the time, has been charged with their murder.

The vigil saw the presence of Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe, Police Chief Eric Stubbs, and the Sri Lankan High Commissioner among its attendees, where flowers were laid and prayers offered.

Bhante Suneetha, a monk from the Hilda Jayewardenaramaya Buddhist Monastery where the family was involved, shared a heartfelt prayer, “Those in misery, be free from misery.”

A gazebo became a makeshift memorial adorned with flowers, toys, candles, and notes, underneath six balloons with the names of the victims: 35-year-old Darshani Ekanayake, her children—seven-year-old Inuka Wickramasinghe, four-year-old Ashwini, three-year-old Ranyana, and two-and-a-half-month-old Kelly—and 40-year-old family friend Ge Gamini Amarakoon.

Dhanushka Wickramasinghe, who lost his wife and children in the tragedy, is currently hospitalized, recovering from injuries reportedly received during a confrontation with the accused, a former international student in Canada.

At Sunday’s vigil, community leaders highlighted the nationwide mourning within the Sri Lankan diaspora and the rarity of such tragic events in their community. Naradha Kodithuwakku, representing the Buddhist Congress of Canada, expressed gratitude to the first responders and community for their support.

Kodithuwakku relayed that despite Dhanushka Wickramasinghe’s shock, the father finds solace in the community’s support, feeling empowered by the collective grieving.

Plans for a funeral are underway, authorized by Wickramasinghe, pending the completion of autopsies. Anzul Jhan from the Sri Lanka High Commission noted that relatives from Sri Lanka are expected to attend the funeral, with requests for Ge Gamini Amarakoon’s body to be repatriated.

Chandra Hapuarachchi from the Buddhist Congress of Canada acknowledged the widespread support, emphasizing the impact of the tragedy beyond the Sri Lankan community.