Yukon MC leaves behind music and memories

Reid Parent loved to skip rocks. "He was probably the best rock skipper I ever met," said friend and bandmate Chris Ermatinger. "It was one of his favourite things. Parent also loved giving high fives, freestyling rhymes and making people laugh.

Reid Parent loved to skip rocks.

“He was probably the best rock skipper I ever met,” said friend and bandmate Chris Ermatinger.

“It was one of his favourite things.”

Parent also loved giving high fives, freestyling rhymes and making people laugh.

The first time Ermatinger met him, Parent was freestyling in a friend’s basement.

“He found out I made beats and we’ve been making music together ever since,” said Ermatinger.

Now, he’s sifting through 10 years of memories and music, trying to cope with the loss of his friend.

Parent, 25, died in a car crash on Salt Spring Island on Sunday.

“He was one of the most alive students I’ve ever had,” said Wood Street teacher Mary Sloan, who taught Parent for four years in the Music, Arts and Drama program.

“He was funny, witty – just sparkling.”

He was also a “little imp,” who liked to push the envelope, said Sloan, remembering a school trip to Ottawa to tour a drug-awareness play with the Whitehorse RCMP.

“Because we were representing the RCMP, I stressed the need for good behaviour,” said Sloan.

And everyone was “good” on the plane.

“But no sooner did we get off the plane when Reid came up to me and said, ‘Mary, look what I found under my seat.’”

He was holding the life preserver.

“I think it just fell off,” Parent told her.

“But I could never get mad at him, he had such a good heart,” she said.

“He was such a little devil, but you just loved him.”

Parent’s smile moved mountains.

“Even when he was being an imp, he had you when he smiled at you,” said Parent’s aunt, Andrea Lemphers.

“You could not stay mad at him.”

Parent’s uncle Florian Lemphers remembers a tiny Parent teasing his older sister in the bathtub by making sound effects.

The MC started young.

Parent grew up in a cabin with his sister and his mom, Daisy Lemphers, on his uncle and aunt’s property in Shallow Bay.

“We had lots of animals out here over the years,” said Florian.

“And he loved to sit and talk to the dogs.”

Parent also loved cookies.

And if the jar was empty, he could often be spotted outside sharing a dog biscuit with his furry friends.

“He was always so happy,” said Andrea.

“And he was also very philosophical, even when he was a little guy.”

If something came on the news, the tiny boy would say, “Well, that’s the way the world is.”

Parent even had some thoughts on death.

On his Facebook page, which is filled with hundreds of tributes, poems, memories and freestyle shout-outs, one friend remembers hassling Parent about eating veal.

“He said very firmly, ‘Death is just change, and animals don’t fear change,’” wrote the friend.

Parent also brought his philosophy to his music.

“It’s labelled as hip hop,” said Ermatinger.

“But the way Reid and Charles (Hegsted) wrote, it’s more like poetry.”

Parent, Ermatinger and Hegsted were part of the Yukon hip-hop group Raw Element, which also featured Daniel and Galen Ashley and Fiona Solon.

Raw Element played the Dawson City Music Festival in 2006, and sometime late at night, under the low rays of the midnight sun, Parent took Ermatinger to the river to skip rocks.

“He always found weird stuff to do,” said Ermatinger.

Parent, Ermatinger and Hegsted also formed local hip-hop group Proverbial, which is in the middle of recording a CD.

Most of Parent’s tracks were already recorded.

“He was so good with his rhymes and he always had humour in everything he did,” said Ermatinger, who plans to finish the CD in his memory.

With a microphone in his hand, Parent was unstoppable.

“Put him in front of a mike, and people would come from miles away,” said former Bringing Youth Towards Equality executive director Jen Jones.

BYTE hired Parent to help co-ordinate its youth conference, a position that was made for him.

“He could get people motivated for the cause of a project,” said Jones, remembering when BYTE had gotten really tacky wristbands no one wanted to wear.

“So Reid wore two,” she said.

Jones’ lasting image of Parent is with a microphone in hand, arms in the air, saying, “Just go for it.”

“I think we have a lot to learn from that young man,” she said.

Parent “really had something to say,” said Sloan.

“And I think through theatre and music, he found a way to say it.

“He really wanted people to be true to themselves and be proud of who they are.”

On his Facebook profile picture, Parent is standing arms crossed, red ball cap on sideways, wearing fuschia pants, a hot pink fanny pack and a lime-green T-shirt.

“He always loved to dress up,” said Andrea.

“We have Grade 1 pictures where he is the only boy in a bow tie, white shirt and dress pants.”

Parent was “the person you noticed in town before you even saw him,” said his friend and former coworker McKenzie Grant.

“He had such a big personality.”

And he was “the funniest person I’ve ever known,” said Daniel.

“He could light up a room.”

Part of a tightly knit group of friends that included Parent, Daniel remembers nights at his cabin on Lake Laberge hauling brush, and jamming -“playing guitars, drums and beat boxing.”

He also remembers being crammed in a giant cardboard and tinfoil robot built by Raw Element for a BYTE showcase.

The front was made of aluminum foil, and the band burst out of it and started to rap.

“Reid was one of the most happy-go-lucky, uplifting kids I ever taught,” said his former Wood Street teacher Jeff Nordlund.

“He was really funny, a great actor and his stand-up comedy was really good.”

Parent also had a great work ethic, said Norlund.

“It was nice to work beside someone who knows how to work.”

Parent moved to Salt Spring a few years ago to pursue music and start a landscaping and carpentry business.

“He was becoming a top-quality, professional musician,” said Florian.

“The music scene was very good there, and he was jamming with people like Valdy.”

Florian also saw pictures of the decks and gardens Parent was building.

“I had no idea he was so good at it,” he said.

“He was a young man with truly great promise.”

Just a few weeks before he died, Daisy went to visit her son on Salt Spring.

“Reid was always very protective of his mom and sister,” said Florian.

“He was very attached to his mom.”

Daisy met Parent’s friends and listened to his music one last time.

Standing at the bus stop on Salt Spring, saying goodbye, Parent’s last word were, “I love you, Mama.”

There will be a memorial service for Parent on Salt Spring Island this Saturday.

There is another memorial being planned in Whitehorse, set tentatively for December 11.

“As long as I’ve known you, you’ve been bigger than life itself,” wrote Hegsted’s brother Will on Facebook.

“The hole you’ve left in all of our lives is so huge, nobody but you could throw a rock across it.”

Contact Genesee Keevil at

gkeevil@yukon-news.com