Standing room only at Connor Hayes’ memorial in Ottawa

Hundreds gathered at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, in Ottawa, Canada, to say goodbye to Connor Hayes last Saturday.

Hayes and his companion Joanna Lam died after a mud slide swept away the vehicle they were travelling in through the Haast Pass in New Zealand.  Hayes’ body has yet to be found.

At the memorial, the lineup outside the church stood several dozen deep and it was almost an hour before the service began.

Hayes’ father, Michael, stood at the church’s entrance wearing his son’s bright red, No. 20 hockey jersey with the captain’s “C” sewn on the shoulder. He shook hands and greeted each of the visitors before they headed inside, and in a church which could easily sit at least 700 people, there was standing room only.

New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Canada Simon Tucker attended the funeral and presented the family with a New Zealand flag.

He expressed his condolences and urged all of those in attendance to remember the ambition and energy that Hayes had in life and, above all, to stay strong.

Tucker called the incident “heart breaking” and said the people of New Zealand were treating the deaths of Hayes and Lam as if they had lost two of their own citizens.

Michael Hayes, who said he had experienced the outpouring of grief by New Zealand residents firsthand, used Tucker’s appearance as an official opportunity to thank the people of New Zealand. Hayes said residents turned out en masse to help locate the pair in the days after they went missing in early September.

Michael  said he became especially close to the people of Haast – at a memorial service there, residents that he barely knew turned up and packed a local church to pay their respects.

He also thanked the members of the New Zealand police force.

Lam’s family also attended the memorial. Lam, a sonographer, worked at The Ottawa Hospital where more than $30,000 was quickly fundraised to help with the expense of returning her body to her hometown of Kingston.

Lam’s funeral was on Oct. 19.


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News category: New Zealand.