For those who knew Traci Genereaux, the world will never be the same.
Human remains found on a farm in Silver Creek were confirmed to be those of the Vernon teen, who was last heard from on May 29 and reported missing June 9.
“Many spent countless hours searching for her, praying for her, and doing everything within their power to bring her home. Yet, this didn’t end the way we wanted,” Pastor Dave Bootsma told the crowd of approximately 60 friends and family members gathered at the Upper Room Mission Tuesday afternoon to remember the 18-year-old Vernon woman.
The ceremony, organized by the mission’s staff at the request of Genereaux’s grieving family, was also attended by two RCMP officers and several frontline workers. Members of the media were allowed to attend but asked not record or take photos, at the request of the family.
“Traci loved animals, and especially ducks,” Bootsma read in his eulogy.
“She had the biggest heart. She had so much love to give to anybody…… While living on the street, she often told her grandmother she didn’t understand why people took her things — she would have shared if only they’d asked,” Bootsma continued, before inviting others to share their memories of the “feisty tomboy.”
“Traci was too young, too bright, had too much potential for her life to end in such a tragic way,” said Bootsma. “It’s not right. It’s not Ok.”
Born in Vernon in 1998, the “fiery,” 4 ft 11 red-head was remembered as “loud, quick-witted and funny.”
“She had the best sense of humour of anyone I know,” one ‘close friend’ who asked not to be named, recalled at the beginning of the 35-minute celebration of life.
“Even at her worst, she always made sure everyone around her was OK.”
Though she never got a chance to complete her formal education, one of Genereaux’s favourite teachers, Bob Oldfield said she liked school.
Oldfield, a former vice-principal at Ellison Elementary School, told the audience he taught the young girl poetry when she was in Grade 7, and remembered her as a child with striking emotional depth.
“She had a real grasp on emotional cause and effect,” the now-retired administrator recalled. “She had a depth of understanding of what was around her, and she found beauty in everything.”
Oldfield’s sentiments were echoed by Lisa Anderson, executive director of the Upper Room Mission, who met Genereaux at the URM three years ago.
Though like any teen, Anderson said Genereaux had her “sassy” moments, she ultimately viewed her as vulnerable.
“She seemed really fragile, like someone you just want to take home with you and love.”