Tears spilled from 12-year-old Tyanna Cremo’s eyes as she released a balloon in her father’s honour on Thursday (May 3).
The date marks 12 years since Tyrone Clement was stabbed in LeBourdais Park during an altercation. He later died from his injuries after being rushed to G.R. Baker Memorial Hospital. He was 19.
Tyanna was nine months old when her father died, and her mother Heather Laurent says Tyanna asks about him every day.
“It was a very emotional day for Tyanna.
“She asks daily about [her father] and his time with us. I can never find the words to express his love for her, as she was his only biological child. She loves each day of learning more and more about her father through stories and memories from all his family and friends.”
The family, including Tyanna, Heather and Tyrone’s stepdaughter Haileigh Laurent – who was two when Tyrone died – invited loved ones to celebrate Tyrone in LeBourdais Park last week, gathering at a commemorative bench they installed in his honour in 2008.
The group of between 30 and 40 people wrote messages on balloons, which were then released.
Former Nazko First Nation Chief Delores Alec was in attendance.
“She was there for support throughout the trial and still shows support to the family,” says Heather.
The family placed placards with photographs of Tyrone on his bench last week. The signs were originally displayed at justice rallies during the trial in Quesnel over a decade ago and express the family’s frustration and sadness at the time, reading: “He was my friend,” “He was my daddy,” and “Not just another dead Indian.”
It took two years for the family to see justice served.
Four men were charged in relation to Tyrone’s murder. Shawn Allan Severinski pled guilty and received two years of probation for his part in the murder; and Andrew Ryan Cunningham was found guilty of obstructing a peace officer and received three months in jail.
A trial was held for the remaining suspects, with Ron Wayne Cunningham pleading guilty to manslaughter and receiving three years’ jail time and two years’ probation. In March 2008, Michael Eric Cunningham received a life sentence without possibility of parole. He appealed his sentence in 2012 but was turned down.
Heather spoke before the balloon release, expressing her gratitude to those who attended.
“It was a very beautiful gathering, with many family and friends,” she says.
Tyanna and her father share a birthday, and the family plans to celebrate both father and daughter at a joint celebration in Nazko on Aug. 19, with a potluck dinner.