The father of a cyclist killed during an altercation on the streets of Toronto joined native leaders in smoking a peace pipe during a traditional ceremony to commemorate his son.
About 50 people gathered in a hall at the Native Canadian Centre in Toronto this afternoon to pay respects to 33-year-old Darcy Allan Sheppard.
Sheppard was the bike courier who died after a high-profile altercation in downtown Toronto a week ago.
Former Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant is charged with criminal negligence causing death and dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death. He is due in court next month, but says he is innocent in the charges he faces.
On Sunday, members of Toronto's aboriginal community beat a drum, sang traditional songs, lit sage and tobacco and passed around a peace pipe in a ceremony to mark Sheppard's passage to the spiritual world.
Sheppard, who is of Cree, Metis and Ojibwa heritage, was remembered as a friendly, car-hating, troubled and generous character with a lust for life.
Sheppard's aunt, Sylvia Segal, read a message from the cyclist's father, Allan Sheppard Senior, who flew from Alberta to collect his son's body and bring it to Edmonton, where his son was raised.
The father's message acknowledged his son's tumultuous past, speaking of his son's teen years spent in a secure treatment facility, his time as a squeeze guy in Toronto, and the time he asked his father for money, only to give it to a friend sleeping on the street and dying of AIDS.
"My son probably wanted the money I gave him to feed his demon of the moment, but he was still willing to share it with someone whose need was greater than his."
He said his son was a proud courier who wanted to make a difference in the community by advocating membership in the Canadian Union of Postal Workers for bicycle messengers.
"He knew firsthand the conditions under which bicycle messengers work, and he wanted to do something to make those conditions better."
Outside, a sacred fire wafted scents of cedar onto the busy downtown streets, while about 10 police officers with bicycles waited in a nearby alley.
Darcy Allan Sheppard died after he was seen hanging onto the side of a convertible sports car following an altercation with the driver. Witnesses said Sheppard slammed into a mail box before falling off the vehicle.