A dozen children marched along Second Avenue on Wednesday morning to memorialize a toddler who died from choking.
The three- to six-year-olds who make up the Montessori Borealis Preschool were dressed in full winter garb for the chilly morning.
Several teachers and parents were there to guide them, but also present were Shandell McCarthy, Marco Paquet and some close family.
McCarthy and Paquet’s youngest son Brennan died in July after choking on a piece of macaroni this summer.
The 17-month-old found the piece of dried macaroni while playing with the drawer under the kitchen stove.
His death drew attention to the months-long debacle over the location of a new ambulance station at the top of Two Mile Hill.
Residents of the Takhini subdivision loudly protested the location of the ambulance station, which was initially slated in a spot in the middle of the neighbourhood.
McCarthy and Paquet were originally against the station.
“It would have gone right by (our son’s) bedroom window,” said McCarthy in an August interview.
As a result of the protests, the Yukon government shelved the idea.
But following the little boy’s death, McCarthy and Paquet lobbied the government and visited hundreds of homes to tell the story of Brennan’s death, and the impact having an ambulance closer to home would have made.
And, in September, the government set up an ambulance station in the Protective Services building in the same vicinity.
“It probably made a difference for people to hear a real story that’s close to home,” said McCarthy.
“A lot of people in the community have kids and I think they realized this could easily happen to them.”
Brennan’s older brother went to the Montessori school.
Brennan loved visiting the classrooms every once in a while, said McCarthy.
The school has decided to honour Brennan in its third annual fundraiser, said head teacher Dominic Bradford.
“We’re trying to honour him quietly,” he said.
The children who walked from the Montessori building were more aware of the other aspects of the march.
They’re sending money to Pakistan to help heat homes, and ski equipment to Yukon c ommunities.
In the packages going to the communities, there’ll be a message mentioning the equipment is being donated in Brennan’s name.
The children on Wednesday had little idea of what the march all meant.
Most of them were in an excited mood, eager to prove to their head teacher what they knew about the day.
“Where are we sending the money?” asked Bradford.
“Paraguay,” said one child.
“Pakistan,” said another.
Behind them, McCarthy and Paquet were laughing.
On the walk back to the school, they explained that mourning Brennan was still difficult.
“It’s up and down,” said McCarthy.
But there was some good news.
“Marco and I are expecting,” she said.
Their next baby will be born in the summer.
“It won’t replace him,” said Paquet.
“But at least we can bring someone else life,” he said.
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