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Hundreds gather to honour Kassandra Gartner in candlelight vigil

Thoughts, prayers, and stories were shared as hundreds gathered at Fort Saskatchewan City Hall for the candlelight vigil of Kassandra Gartner.

Kassandra was a pillar of the community in Fort Saskatchewan who was most well known for her work as executive director of the Fort Saskatchewan Food Bank, where she was integral to the creation of the Fort Saskatchewan Nourishment Centre.

The vigil was on Thursday night and featured several speakers, all of whom worked closely and were good friends with Kassandra. There was also music performed by Harold Reichstein and some heartfelt words shared by Cheri Lund, Kassandra's sister.

“Her priority was always her husband Kirk, and three beautiful daughters. A close second was the Fort Saskatchewan Food Bank,” said Lund. “Those who knew Kass would agree with me when I say she was a force to be reckoned with. She was determined, loyal, and kind to her core.”

“Even when growing up she faced so many difficulties, but she wouldn't let anything stop her. She would try harder. Kass would move mountains to help anyone. Friends, family, or even people she didn't know.”

In her name, the food bank created the Kassandra Gartner Building Fund, which by the time of the vigil had already raised $18,000.

“Tonight I ask you to remember my sister, Kassandra, the way I do. A generous, supportive, kind, and beautiful person whose work can live on for her husband, daughters, and countless others to see for years to come by donating to the building fund.”

Another speaker at the vigil was Carole Bossert, a Grade 5 teacher and close friend of Kassandra's.

“Kassandra and I became parent friends with children in the same grade at school. She quickly became my go-to person whenever I had an idea to build a community and help others. Her connections in the community were invaluable,” said Bossert. “Kassandra taught my Grade 5 students over multiple years of teaching that sometimes we aren't in the position to be helpers in our community, and we may need others to help us.”

“She taught us to show compassion, not judgment, to those that needed a hand up.”

Kassandra was prolific in her philanthropy, not just through her work with the food bank, but also when she volunteered for the school council at Fort Saskatchewan Christian School. Principal Matt Matheson was leading prayers at the start of the vigil before he went to speak about his memories with her while bringing a bit of relief to the hundreds of grieving residents.

“I heard stories about the time during COVID when she turned up to one of her kid's online classrooms in her bathroom, repeatedly exclaiming ‘We are not okay! We are not okay!’,” said Matheson, followed by warm laughter from the crowd.

The night ended with a moment of reflection in Kassandra’s memory and a playing of the song ‘Blessings’ by Laura Story.

Bossert had also brought up a quote from C.S. Lewis that Kassandra had shared on Facebook before her death.

“Don’t shine so that others can see you. Shine, so that through you, others can see Him.”

Kassandra passed away after a fatal hit-and-run in Edmonton. The suspect was arrested several days after her death. You can donate to the Kassandra Gartner Building Fund through the food bank's donation page.

Kassandra Gartner's Candlelight vigil.