'We're all crushed': Mourners pay tribute to harm reduction worker killed in Chinatown
OTTAWA -- A memorial continues to grow at an intersection in Ottawa's Chinatown neighbourhood, as the community mourns the death of harm reduction worker Carl Reinboth.
"We're all crushed," says Brandie Sauve, who credits Reinboth for helping turn her life around.
Sauve says Reinboth was well known in the community, known for his long hair, gentle but stern demeanour, and charismatic smile.
"People feel like the one person they trust is now gone," said Sauve, who knew Reinboth for nearly 20 years.
Sauve describes Reinboth as a father figure who taught her there’s more to life than drugs.
"He was the first one to say this isn't you," she said. "You can change, you can get better."
She did and followed in his footsteps, becoming colleagues at Somerset West Community Centre with the hopes of helping others – the way Reinboth helped her.
"I changed my whole life."
The 64-year-old Reinboth was found at the corner of Somerset Street West and Arthur Street Friday morning with life-threatening stab wounds. He later died in hospital.
Early Saturday morning, Ottawa police said Honor Charley, 20, of Ottawa had been charged with second-degree murder in connection to the death of Reinboth. Charley is also charged with aggravated assault and attempted murder.
Police say a second victim, an 84-year-old man, was stabbed on Somerset Street West near Bronson Avenue two hours after Reinboth was stabbed.
"This wasn’t a hate crime," said one mourner who knew Reinboth. “This was our system that fails to help our people most in need."
He says this act of violence was senseless and tragic.
According to an Ontario Harm Reduction Network video on YouTube, Reinboth stopped daily drug use in 1992. He then dedicated his life to helping those considered most vulnerable.
"We are losing many people in our community now," said John Becvar, a former colleague.
Sauve said she isn’t ready to see the memorial, still coming to terms that when she walks into work at Somerset West Community Health Centre she won’t see his smiling face or hear his goofy laugh.
"We just got to continue his work and make him proud and stay on my journey of recovery for him," Sauve said. "Because that's what I know he would want for me and for the rest of his loved ones."