Tsilhqot’in traditional spiritual healer Cecil Grinder leads a vigil at Boitanio Park Wednesday afternoon for Dorian Lindsay Johnny, 31, who died Wednesday morning after he was found in the park. Monica Lamb-Yorski photos

Family of Dorian Johnny holds vigil in Boitanio Park Wednesday

Johnny, 31, was found in the park Wednesday morning and died later in hospital

A vigil was held Wednesday, Nov. 27, for a 31 year old man who died after he was found in Williams Lake’s Boitanio Park earlier that morning.

Dorian Lindsay Johnny was a member of Tl’etinqox (Anaham) First Nation.

Around 90 family members, friends and community members gathered in the park for the vigil.

Johnny’s father, Delmer Frank, told the Tribune his son had a hard life.

“He just had his skull reattached last Friday in the hospital in Kamloops,” Frank said, noting the surgery was the result of his son being hit in the head with a baseball bat.

Cecil Grinder, a cousin to Johnny and a traditional spiritual healer, led the vigil in the park, doing both a smudging and a water ceremony, followed by drumming, singing and prayers, both in Tsilhqot’in and English.

Frank said his son also leaves behind his mom, Doreen Johnny, and three sisters.

Johnny’s brother Jesse Delmer Frank was murdered in 2015 at the age of 22.

His murder remains unsolved.

Read more: Mayor, Chief, react to homicide

After the ceremony Grinder told the Tribune it’s important to gather strength by praying all together in a big group when someone dies.

“What we did here was a sending away ceremony at the place where that person lay in the park,” Grinder said. “We were just moving him along to the next world. That’s important for our young ones who have passed away and in our tradition as First Nations people.”

First Nations people are spiritual, Grinder said, adding some of that has been lost by trauma from residential schools and other things that have happened historically.

“Even though our young people did not go to residential school, a lot of the youth are dealing with the trauma that’s been passed down.”

As he watched the rest of the people filter out of the park, Grinder paused.

“How do we break that cycle? It doesn’t matter if you are native on non-native, we need to help each other out and learn the Creator’s ways.”

Williams Lake RCMP Staff Sgt. Del Byron said the death is a Coroner’s Act investigation which police are assisting with.

Read more: Family holding vigil in Boitanio Park after man dies Wednesday morning


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Around 90 people attended the vigil.

Delmer Frank (right) said his son, Dorian Lindsay Johnny, had a hard life.

Flowers poised against a tree in the Boitanio Park near the spot where Dorian Lindsay Johnny, 31, was found Wednesday and died later in hospital.

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