Family and friends remember Colton Crowshoe as a friendly young man who loved to make people smile.
A candlelight vigil was held Thursday at Piikani Nation Community Centre in Brocket for the 18-year-old Crowshoe, who was murdered in Calgary.
“He was a good kid,” Colton’s father Jimmy Crowshoe said. “To me, he’s an angel.”
More than 110 people turned out for the candlelight vigil, which included guest speakers, music and a traditional First Nations round dance.
Prior to the vigil, Jordan North Peigan was having people autograph a hockey jersey to be presented later to Jimmy Crowshoe.
“He was a really nice guy, really funny,” North Peigan said. “When somebody was down, he would always make them smile.”
Crowshoe, who lived in Calgary, graduated from Jack James high school and planned to attend SAIT Polytechnic, was missing for three weeks before his body was found in a pond in Calgary.
No one has been charged in relation to Crowshoe’s death.
“I was pretty devastated, sad,” North Peigan said of the news his friend was dead.
Crowshoe family members were led into the community centre in a procession that included a hand drum.
Piikani Nation councillor Fabien North Peigan spoke of his relationship with the Crowshoe family and how Colton’s death impacted the community.
“We feel your loss,” North Peigan told the Crowshoe family.
Master of ceremonies Cowboy Smith, who in his career has worked with youth, encouraged Piikani Nation young people to learn from Colton’s death.
“Watch out for each other,” Smith said. “Take care of each other and guide each other away from situations that might get you and your friends in trouble.”
Smith called the Piikani Nation “one big family” and said people have to take care of each other.
Kelly Morning Bull offered condolences to the family and said she knows the impact of losing a loved one.
“It’s really common for us to be sitting here, burying someone so young, but it’s really tragic,” Morning Bull said.
Morning Bull recalled working with the Kindergarten class and meeting five-year-old Colton.
“He was really happy, and he talked a lot,” Morning Bull said with a smile.
Morning Bull is disappointed Calgary Police Service was slow to search for Crowshoe when he went missing, and that there are no leads in the case.
Morning Bull encouraged people to use social media and other methods to share Colton’s story in the hopes it will lead to a resolution.
“Get the story out because people need to know what kind of boy he was,” Morning Bull said.
Serena Provost recalled working with Colton when she was with the Calgary Boys and Girls Club.
Provost said Colton was part of a floor hockey program for children aged nine to 12 years, and was excited to play every position — including goalie.
“He had the gift of laughter,” Provost said. “he was such a light to be around.”
Colton Crowshoe also demonstrated compassion at a young age, befriending an autistic boy and making sure he was included in the floor hockey games.
“He had such a big heart,” Provost said. “I’ll always remember that because Colton made that child feel so welcome.”
An emotional Jimmy Crowshoe was last to speak, recalling a loving son who liked to spend time with his father.
Jimmy Crowshoe raised Colton, his brother Wyatt and sister Jasmine as a single parent, and even when times were tight Colton never complained that he couldn’t buy the things he wanted.
“Colton was the one who always had a smile,” Jimmy Crowshoe said. “He was the one who made everybody be happy . . . he was the one who made everybody smile.”
Jimmy Crowshoe spoke of a dream he had recently in which Colton appeared, hugged his father and gave him a big smile.
Colton’s father takes solace in knowing his son is reunited with family members who predeceased him.
“He’s my angel,” Jimmy Crowshoe said. “He’s an angel to everyone here.”