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Vigil held for slain nursing student Rachael Longridge: ‘Rest easy my friend, we love you’

Vigil for slain Edmonton nurse
WATCH ABOVE: About 250 people gathered at the University of Alberta Wednesday night to remember the life of Rachael Longridge. Friends shared stories and messages of support for her family. The 21-year-old died Friday afternoon. Her mother is now facing second degree murder charges. Julia Wong has more.

There were tears, hugs and laughter as approximately 250 people gathered at the University of Alberta campus to remember slain nursing student Rachael Longridge.

Friends, classmates and faculty members gathered outside the Edmonton Clinic Health Academy to light candles and share stories about the 21-year-old.

A table with photos of Rachael Longridge sits outside the Edmonton Clinic Health Academy at the University of Alberta campus.
A table with photos of Rachael Longridge sits outside the Edmonton Clinic Health Academy at the University of Alberta campus. Julia Wong/Global News
A song was performed at the start of the vigil.
A song was performed at the start of the vigil. Julia Wong/Global News
Friends, classmates and faculty members gather to remember Rachael Longridge.
Friends, classmates and faculty members gather to remember Rachael Longridge. Julia Wong/Global News
Many lit candles in remembrance of the slain 21-year-old.
Many lit candles in remembrance of the slain 21-year-old. Julia Wong/Global News
Roughly 250 people attended the vigil.
Roughly 250 people attended the vigil. Julia Wong/Global News
Attendees at the vigil on the University of Alberta campus.
Attendees at the vigil on the University of Alberta campus. Julia Wong/Global News
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People shared photos and memories of Rachael on a "wall of memories."
People shared photos and memories of Rachael on a "wall of memories." Julia Wong/Global News
Many reflected on the Rachael and her love of nursing at the vigil.
Many reflected on the Rachael and her love of nursing at the vigil. Julia Wong/Global News

RELATED: Friends identify victim killed in northwest Edmonton altercation

Longridge died Friday at her house in the Sherbrooke neighbourhood of Edmonton. Her mother, Christine Longridge, was taken into custody and faces charges of second degree murder and possession of an offensive weapon. Family and friends said Christine Longridge suffered from mental health issues and had been struggling for many years.

READ MORE: Edmonton mother accused of killing daughter reportedly struggled with mental health issues

But Wednesday was about remembering the vivacious young woman, who friends say had an infectious personality and was quick to make new friends.

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“There are just so many people that she loved and were loved by her. She touched so many people, not only in the nursing community, and here at the university, but beyond,” said close friend Dakota Bergem.

“Rachael was a person of love. She spread her love everywhere.”

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Close friend Danielle Bourque said the vigil is a step towards closure.

“I don’t know if it’s 100 per cent closure. Dakota [and I] are both so really torn and emotional about it. It will be a long time to heal,” Bourque said.
Dakota Bergem (left) knew Rachael (right) from high school but got to know her better when both started nursing school.
Dakota Bergem (left) knew Rachael (right) from high school but got to know her better when both started nursing school. Courtesy/Dakota Bergem
Rachael was slated to start work at the Mazankowski Heart Institute in January.
Rachael was slated to start work at the Mazankowski Heart Institute in January. Courtesy/Danielle Bourque
Friends say Rachael, 21, was passionate about life and enthusiastic about her nursing career.
Friends say Rachael, 21, was passionate about life and enthusiastic about her nursing career. Courtesy/Danielle Bourque
Danielle (left) said Rachael (right) had an infectious personality.
Danielle (left) said Rachael (right) had an infectious personality. Courtesy/Danielle Bourque
Friends say Rachael helped them get through nursing school.
Friends say Rachael helped them get through nursing school. Courtesy/Danielle Bourque
Rachael (left) had recently graduated from nursing school.
Rachael (left) had recently graduated from nursing school. Courtesy/Danielle Bourque
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Rachael (middle) sits with her friends Danielle Bourque (right) and Dakota Bergem (left). The pair was like the Three Musketeers.
Rachael (middle) sits with her friends Danielle Bourque (right) and Dakota Bergem (left). The pair was like the Three Musketeers. Courtesy/Danielle Bourque
Friends tell Global News the victim is 21-year-old Rachael Longridge, the woman on the far right of this photo.
Friends tell Global News the victim is 21-year-old Rachael Longridge, the woman on the far right of this photo. Global News

Several of Longridge’s former patients also attended the event, saying they were shocked and overcome when they heard the news about her death.

Shannon Sharon said Longridge was her home care nurse for the last couple months.

“She always used to come in with the biggest smile on her face. I wish I could have got to know her better,” Sharon said.

“She’s very gentle. She never let anything bother her. She was always very conscious of what she did.”

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Chad Kidner, who was also a patient of Longridge’s, said the loss runs deep.

“I believe the nursing community lost a great person to be a nurse. She was a very kind, caring person. She was a very gentle person,” he said.

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Childhood friends Marlee Butti and Rachel Clarke injected some humour into the otherwise emotional vigil, sharing funny stories about Longridge from their youth.

“When you think of her, you don’t want to get sad. You don’t want to cry. When you think of her, you get so happy,” Butti said.

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“She just has this humour and this laugh that I’ll always remember. This contagious laugh – as soon as she was laughing – her smile just brightened every situation,” Clarke said.

The pair, who wore t-shirts bearing Longridge’s face, also urge those who are dealing with mental health issues to speak out.

They came bearing a message from Rachael’s brother Michael – who is now facing a future without his sister, his mother in custody and a father who passed away from cancer last year.

“The main thing he wanted for tonight was to let everybody know that his mom loves him and loves Rachael and wanted everyone to know this is nothing but a mental health issue,” Butti said.

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At the end of the vigil, close friends released balloons into the night sky.

“Thank you Rachael for helping us become the people we are today. We love you to the moon and the stars and back again. Rest easy my friend. We love you,” said Bergem.

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Balloons were released near the end of the vigil in remembrance of Rachael Longridge.
Balloons were released near the end of the vigil in remembrance of Rachael Longridge. Julia Wong/Global News