Dozens of people gathered with candles, flowers and picture collages Thursday night in the back alley of Toronto’s Bloorcourt Village neighbourhood, where a clothing donation bin used to sit.
, 35, is being remembered by friends in the same place she died just two days ago.
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Papineau died Tuesday morning when she became trapped inside the clothing donation bin located behind a building near Bloor Street W and Dovercourt Road. Police say half of her body was still sticking out of the bin when emergency crews tried to save her.
“She was wonderful, she was funny, she was generous, she was kind,” said Patricia O’Connell with Sistering, a not-for-profit agency serving Toronto’s most vulnerable women.
“She was compassionate and she was a great friend to the other women.”
Friends at her vigil said she was homeless and frequently depended on the city’s women’s shelters.
“She was very outgoing and had a lot of love other people and always saw the optimistic side of things,” said Victoria James, who calls herself Papineau’s best friend.
She adds that Papineau used to frequently take clothing items out of the bins and shared them with other homeless or vulnerable women.
The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
says that all women’s shelters were full the night Papineau died and are using her death as a rallying cry to increase the number of resources for the city’s homeless population.
“Our group is going to be asking the mayor and the city to declare a state of emergency around homelessness so they can access other resources,” said Cathy Crowe with the Shelter Housing and Justice Network.
“The system is a mess. There are over a thousand people sleeping in overflow spaces right now.”
In response, Mayor John Tory’s staff said, “The mayor is committed to addressing homelessness in our city and its underlying causes.
“Mayor Tory and city council are already taking action to help residents in need,” said Tory’s spokesperson, Don Peat. “That is why he supported the expansion of the city’s winter respite program from one site in 2014 to nine sites this winter and adding 1,000 beds to the shelter system as soon as possible.”
The vigil ran from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.