She would drop everything to comfort a friend or help a stranger. She loved music and would buy CDs from street musicians to let them know they mattered. She once rescued a stray dog and gave him a home.
With Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here playing in the background, the family and friends of Nadia Kajouji hugged and cried as they remembered the girl who, in the words of her mother, Deborah Chevalier, “brought joy the lives of all those who knew her.”
Looking at the 50 or so people gathered on edge of the Rideau River at Clegg Street, Chevalier scattered flower petals in the water and raised her candle to her daughter.
“To you, Nadia.”
On a sunny, breezy Sunday afternoon, Chevalier led a group of people along the Rideau River from Carleton University in the Walk for Nadia, retracing the 18-year-old Carleton student’s final journey to where her body was found a year ago.
The victim of an apparent suicide, Kajouji was found dead in the Rideau River last April 20 after a five-week search. Charges are still pending against a Minnesota man who allegedly encouraged Kajouji to commit suicide over the Internet.
The walk had two purposes, said Chevalier — to remember Kajouji and to push stricter laws regarding Internet predators.
In the past, as long as people didn’t meet strangers on the Internet, they were considered to be safe, she said. It’s no longer the case, she said.
“And he’s not the only one out there,” said Chevalier. “How many more must die before we take this seriously?
The last year was extremely difficult, said Chevalier.
“She was everything to me.”
Following Kajouji’s death, many things were said about her, said Chevalier.
“We all know she suffered from depression, but she lived a wonderful life.
“The first holidays without her have been hard,” said Kajouji’s aunt, Candita Mills, who remembers Kajouji’s “zest for life. She lit up a room with her laughter.”
Through nadiaslight.ca, the family is hoping to raise awareness about depression and the dangers of the Internet, said Kajouji’s cousin, Talor Martens.