Mattea Somerville, the 12-year-old girl who petitioned for the city of Guelph to get a rainbow crosswalk, died suddenly in her sleep last weekend.
Her dad Jake announced the news on Facebook earlier this week, saying that “it is with profound sadness Michelle and I share our beloved Mattea has passed away.”
A family member launched a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for funeral costs and other ancillary costs.
On the page, Tasha Jameson explained that the girl’s passing was unexpected and that they are still awaiting answers on the cause of her death.
“She kissed her family goodnight as she always did and was discovered unresponsive the following day,” Jameson wrote.
“She was healthy and there were no warning signs. The whole family is in utter shock and grieving an unbelievably heavy loss while awaiting answers.”
So far, the GoFundMe page has already raised more than $40,000 for the family.
Somerville started the petition last year in an effort to see a rainbow crosswalk in her own city.
“Having a rainbow crosswalk is very important to me because my loved ones are members of the LGBTQ2S+ community and the rainbow crosswalk is a welcoming symbol of inclusion and diversity for LGBTQ2S+ people,” she wrote.
“The joy I feel when seeing a rainbow crosswalk when visiting other cities in Ontario is overwhelming and I would love to see Guelph take a positive step forward in the right direction by having one installed here as well.”
Her efforts did not come up empty as a rainbow crosswalk was established at Stone Road Mall a couple of weeks ago.
In a release announcing the crosswalk, Christina Magee, the mall’s marketing manager gave credit to the petition for getting the ball rolling.
“The pandemic reminded us just how important community is; to feel seen and connected,” Magee said.
“A community petition for the installation of a Rainbow Crosswalk in our City was widely shared online and we want those people to know they made this possible; we heard you.”