The family of slain teen Luka Gordic will be in Whistler this weekend with a clear message for local officials: Something needs to be done about the community's violence-plagued May long weekend.
"We want to send a message that at all parts of the year, but particularly on the May long weekend... people go up to Whistler without understanding what really takes place," said Gianni Buono, uncle to the 19-year-old Burnaby man who was stabbed to death on May 17 while visiting the resort.
Family and friends will host a vigil for Gordic in Rebagliati Park on Saturday, June 20, from 4 to 5 p.m. The commemoration is open to the public.
Originally Gordic and his family had plans to take part in Saturday's Tough Mudder race under the team name of "Family Matters." While his siblings and their partners will still run the obstacle course, they will be doing it under a different moniker: #JusticeForLuka.
The goal of the campaign is to have the three 17-year-olds charged with manslaughter in Gordic's death tried as adults, as well as upgrading the fourth suspect's charges to murder.
A Change.org petition to Crown counsel has so far amassed nearly 25,000 signatures.
"The petition is essentially just bringing awareness that young juveniles who commit crimes and who knowingly go up (to Whistler) with weapons, and are able to book hotel rooms on their own, essentially should be responsible as adults for committing these violent crimes," Buono said. "I'm not sure where we can take (the petition), but we want people to know we've got community support to have people who commit these crimes be elevated to an adult standard of law."
Three of the four suspects linked to Gordic's death have been granted bail — including 18-year-old Arvin Golic, who was released from custody on Monday, June 15, leading to a scuffle outside the courtroom between the families of the victim and the accused that had to be broken up by court sheriffs.
"It's very challenging to now go through this court process," said Buono. "It's so disheartening because we're going through this process and over and over we've been told we're going to be disappointed."
Gordic's uncle is now urging any witnesses to the stabbing to come forward to police and share what they know.
"It's so important we have all the evidence that ties these individuals to this cowardly act," he added.
Saturday's vigil is also an opportunity to shine a light on the issues facing Whistler's notorious Victoria Day holiday.
In the aftermath of Gordic's death, Buono, like many residents in the community, has questions for local authorities.
"Why are there so many young people up in Whistler unsupervised? Why are they allowing people to be in these hotel rooms unsupervised without any adults?" he said. "Adults are booking these hotels and young people are coming in mass groups while the citizens themselves say it's unsafe. They don't go to the village. That's the message in itself: (Officials) need to listen to their own citizens."
Visit www.justiceforluka.com for more information.