Dozens of Winnipegers gathered at a vigil on Pritchard Avenue held for 3-year-old Hunter Haze Straight Smith on Sunday, to remember the life of the toddler and to support his grieving family.
Hunter was taken off life support Saturday, after being in the hospital since October 30.
The toddler had been stabbed in his sleep in his home on Pritchard Avenue.
Police arrested Hunter’s mother’s former boyfriend, 33-year-old Daniel Jensen. He is facing charges of aggravated assault and attempted murder. Jensen is also charged with an earlier assault on the young child’s mother.
Jensen still remains in custody.
On Friday, police spokesperson Const. Jay Murray said if Hunter dies, charges against Jensen may be changed.
“Certainly if an individual passes away as the result of an assault, we will look at upgrading charges,” he said.
At Sunday’s vigil mourners placed stuffed animals, flowers and other offerings around the trunk of a large tree in front of the home.
A sign attached to the tree reads, “Rest In Peace Hunter, from all of the grandmothers.”
At an earlier vigil outside Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre on Friday, the mother and other relatives hugged each other and wept during Indigenous prayers and drum songs.
A friend of the boy’s family, Darryl Contois, said Hunter’s mother and father were at their son’s hospital bedside along with relatives and friends after the machines that were keeping him alive were removed.
“They broke down, like any mother would do or any father would do,” Contois said.
“There’s no words to take away that pain from them.”
Meanwhile political leaders added their voices to those offering condolences to the child’s grieving family.
Toddler stabbed in Winnipeg has died: family
Premier Brian Pallister tweeted after Hunter’s death that the province’s thoughts and prayers go out to the boy’s family and friends.
“A child full of hope and dreams, tragically taken too soon,” Pallister wrote.
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman echoed the sentiment.
“Our hearts are heavy this morning with the tragic loss of Hunter Straight-Smith, & our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time,” he tweeted on Sunday.
–With files from The Canadian Press
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