May Long Weekend Committee set to meet in early July 

Gordic family holds Whistler vigil for slain teen

click to enlarge PHOTO BY BRANDON BARRETT - CALL FOR JUSTICE Attendees to a vigil held in Whistler in memory of 19-year-old Luka Gordic light candles on Saturday, June 20. Police say the Burnaby resident was fatally stabbed by a group of teens while visiting Whistler for May long weekend.
  • Photo by Brandon Barrett
  • CALL FOR JUSTICE Attendees to a vigil held in Whistler in memory of 19-year-old Luka Gordic light candles on Saturday, June 20. Police say the Burnaby resident was fatally stabbed by a group of teens while visiting Whistler for May long weekend.

Days after the friends and family held a vigil in honour of slain teen Luka Gordic, Whistler's mayor reiterated that curbing violence on the notorious May long weekend remains a top priority.

"I would assure the Gordic family, the community at large and our guests that this has our attention," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden. "In light of some comments by the Gordic family (around) trying to curb violence in the village, we've spent an immense amount of time and money, quite frankly, to discourage violence and to provide other opportunities for youth and others with things to do at GO Fest (the weekend's Great Outdoors Festival)."

The municipality's May Long Weekend Committee has yet to meet since this year's holiday, which saw two separate stabbings, but Wilhelm-Morden said the group will convene early next month.

The mayor's comments came after a vigil held in Whistler on Saturday, June 20, to pay tribute to the 19-year-old Burnaby man who police say was fatally stabbed by a group of teens.

Dozens came to pay their respects in Rebagliati Park, all clad in black T-shirts emblazoned with "5/17/15" across the back to mark the day the teenager was killed. Candles were lit in his memory and 19 white balloons — one for each year of his life — were released in his honour.

But Saturday was about more than just remembrance; it was also a call to action.

"Together we can reach out and create change in our country," said a tearful Gianni Buono, Gordic's uncle. "It's (the family's) hope that we can positively influence our community, change our laws and ensure the safety and protection of all people so that what happened in Whistler to Luka does not happen again."

The Gordic family has been vocal in criticizing a Canadian justice system they feel is too soft on violent crime. They've called for the four accused in Gordic's death to have their charges upgraded from manslaughter to murder.

They're also pushing for the three suspects who are under the age of 18 to be tried as adults.

An online petition calling for the changes has so far amassed over 25,000 signatures.

Buono hasn't spared Whistler officials either, questioning why more hasn't been done to stem the unruly behaviour that's become common on the holiday.

"Adults are booking these hotels and young people are coming in mass groups while the citizens themselves say it's unsafe. They don't go to the village. That's the message in itself: (Officials) need to listen to their own citizens," he said in an interview with Pique earlier this month.

The second stabbing to hit Whistler on the May long weekend took place less than 24 hours after Gordic's death. A 17-year-old Vancouver man was arrested Tuesday, June 16, in connection with the non-fatal stabbing. He faces a charge of aggravated assault.

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