Mourners filled Yorkton's City Centre Park to remember Jimmy Ray Wiebe and take a stand against violent crime on the one-year anniversary of the convenience store worker's murder last Wednesday.
Wiebe, 50, was shot to death in a robbery while working at a Shell gas station in Yorkton on June 20, 2011. Twenty-one-year-old Kyle Furness later confessed to the murder and was sentenced to life in prison last November.
A candlelit vigil was held for Wiebe in the days following his murder. Last week, about 50 people attended a second vigil marking his death one year to the day. Friends of Wiebe sang songs, recalled stories, and released balloons in his honor.
Aaron Nagy, one of Wiebe's friends and an organizer of the vigil, spoke to media after the event.
"For me, it's very important to keep his memory alive, because, you know what, he was one of the best friends I've ever had and it was sad to lose him the way I did. But if I can honor his memory somehow, I will do it."
Nagy is also behind the Jimmy's Law petition, which last year gathered several thousand signatures in support of greater protections for nighttime workers.
An NDP bill that would have brought in the reforms proposed in the petition — including a requirement to either install barriers between workers and the public or maintain two workers during all nighttime shifts — fell through in the spring session of the legislature.
But Nagy said he is encouraged by statements from Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Don Morgan indicating that the Saskatchewan Party government intends to reform Occupational Health and Safety regulations in Jimmy Wiebe's memory.
Even if the full extent of reforms called for in the petition don't become law, Nagy said he would be satisfied with any improvement the government can offer.
"To me personally, the details don't matter much … as long as we get some form of protection for overnight workers. If we can save one life, it's worth its weight in gold."
Nagy and other friends of Wiebe are now also collecting donations for a pair of scholarships to be offered in Wiebe's name at Yorkton's two high schools. The awards will recognize Wiebe's exceptional head for numbers.
"It's not necessarily going to go to the person with the highest average, because that's where most of the scholarships go, but to the student that's the most improved in math," said Nagy.
Contributions to the scholarship fund are being accepted at Scotiabank.
The response to the vigil, the petition, and the scholarship has been "amazing," Nagy said.
"It just goes to show how well respected and how loved he was in the community. It's just a beautiful thing to see."