Dozens of people picked through the black, craggy rocks on the beaches of Halifax’s Point Pleasant Park on Saturday, attempting to clean out the pieces of human-made waste and debris.
The afternoon mist did little to dampen the volunteers’ spirits as they worked to honour the memory of Angela Rehhorn, a bright young conservationist who once called Halifax home.
Rehhorn, originally from Orillia, Ont., was among the 157 passengers who died onboard an Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed en route to Kenya.
On Saturday, friends, family and complete strangers wore gloves and carried plastic bags to commemorate what would have been Rehhorn’s 25th birthday and clean up the beaches of her adoptive home.
Both of her parents made the trip to Halifax to attend the event.
“Being in the area that she loved so much means that much to me as well,” said Roland Rehhorn, her father.
Rehhorn’s family and friends say that the fun-loving, selfless woman they knew always wanted to be in nature — something that her friends admit was fitting for a person whose April 22 birthday coincided with Earth Day.
Joan Vincent, Rehhorn’s mother, said that ever since she was a child, Rehhorn knew she wanted to go to Halifax and study marine biology at Dalhousie University.
Her passion for the environment was something Rehhorn was well on her way to making a career. A recent graduate of the university’s marine biology program, she was on her way to Nairobi, Kenya to participate in the United Nations Environmental Assembly at the time of the crash.
Paula Lagman, one of the organizers of the beach cleanup, describes Rehhorn as selfless and someone who would go out of her way to help her friends, family and the environment.
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Vincent says that she has been stunned by the number of people who have come forward to organize events like the beach cleanup to honour her daughter’s life and efforts.
A cleanup to honour Rehhorn has already occurred in Saint Andrews, N.B., and another is planned in Ottawa.
Lagman says she hopes to make the cleanup an annual event, continuing Angela’s efforts to create a healthier, cleaner earth.