More than 40 family and friends gathered at Okanagan College on Saturday afternoon to remember Jennifer Shaun Cusworth, a Kelowna teenager whose life was tragically cut short almost 20 years ago.
It was an emotional outpouring of support as everyone in attendance at the Celebration of Life for Jennifer Cusworth sat in a large circle, a symbol of "wholeness." One by one, people related their fond memories of Jennifer.
The Celebration kicked off with a traditional First Nations Smudging Ceremony to bless the group. Jennifer's mother, Jean Cusworth, began by relating what she remembered most about her daughter, fond memories from years ago.
Terry Cusworth, Jennifer's father also spoke out, saying,"Thank you for being here today. Some of you I know, and some of you I don't."
A woman seated beside Mr. Cusworth spoke of how her life was impacted by Jennifer's. "She's still here and everyday, I'm inspired by her love."
Even after all these years, the pain and loss still evident in their eyes and hearts, the Cusworth's seem to have found strength and solitude through their strong spiritual beliefs and close network of support in friends, family and the community.
Perhaps Jean Cusworth was right when she said, even years ago, that "love never dies."
The senseless murder of Jennifer Cusworth sparked one of the longest investigations in Kelowna history.
45 year old Neil George Snelson, a married father of four, was convicted of manslaughter in October 2011 and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.