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Family encourages forgiveness at Kionna Nicotine vigil in Saskatoon

Family encourages forgiveness at Kionna Nicotine vigil in Saskatoon
WATCH: Kionna Nicotine’s friends and family held a candlelight vigil in the parking lot where the 23-year-old died on June 6.

Kionna Nicotine’s grandmother doesn’t want anyone to resent the woman charged in her granddaughter’s death, which Saskatoon police said was caused by drunk driving.

Stacey-Marie Stone, 22, is charged with impaired driving causing death and failing to stop after a collision that happened early Saturday morning. Police said Nicotine was hit by a car and died in a parking lot on Appleby Drive.

READ MORE: Woman accused of driving drunk, killing Kionna Nicotine appears in Saskatoon court

Nicotine and Stone had been close friends for 12 years, her family said.

At a candlelight vigil Monday evening, Nicotine’s grandmother, Connie Beauchene, asked a crowd of mourners not to hold anything against Stone, saying the tragedy was an accident.

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“It wasn’t Stacey’s fault. We forgive her, we love her (and) we’ll keep praying for her,” Beauchene said in an interview.

Vanessa Nicotine, Kionna’s mother, said she received a phone call from Stone on Monday. She was crying and apologizing. Stone’s mother attended the vigil and was embraced by the Nicotine family.

Family encourages forgiveness at Kionna Nicotine vigil in Saskatoon
Mourners held candles and pictures of Kionna Nicotine. Mandy Vocke / Global News

Wearing masks due to COVID-19, several dozen people gathered in the parking lot where Nicotine died. After lighting candles, they laid flowers and pictures in front of a parking stall.

Drummers from Red Pheasant Cree Nation, Nicotine’s home community, played an honour song for the woman remembered as a kind-hearted prankster.

Nicotine was a wife and had three younger siblings. Family considered her a role model, having been an educational assistant with a bright future.

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READ MORE: New Saskatchewan road signs show where impaired drivers have been caught

Near the end of her life, Nicotine started “swimming in troubled waters” that involved drugs and alcohol, her mother said. She always apologized when sober.

Beauchene hopes young people can learn from the tragedy that struck her family over the weekend.

“We’re heartbroken because alcohol and drugs were involved,” she said.

“Please, I beg you. You are our future generation. Stay away from alcohol.”

The family has established a crowdfunding campaign in Nicotine’s name, with proceeds going toward a scholarship for members of the LGBTQ2S+ community.