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Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette And Father Remembered In Tearful Ceremony

10/10/2015 02:34 EDT | Updated 10/09/2016 05:12 EDT
Approximately 300 people are gathered in Crowsnest Pass to remember two-year-old Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette and her father, Terry Blanchette, who were victims of homicides last month that shocked the small Alberta community and the country.

​The memorial is being held at the high school in Coleman, one of four communities — along with Blairmore, Bellevue and Frank —  that make up the municipality of Crowsnest Pass, which is about 230 kilometres south of Calgary.

Family spoke of the lives of both Hailey and Terry and the profound loss they now feel. 

Hailey's grandmother, Terry-Lynn Dunbar, says her granddaughter was doted on by all who knew her and almost always got what she wanted thanks to a signature scrunched-up nose that melted hearts. 

"She had lots of friends and loved ones who surrounded her day and night," she said. "You couldn't help but love her."

Terry's sister, Amanda Blanchette, delivered his eulogy and said Hailey changed his life. When he found out he was going to become a father, he told his sister that he had big shoes to fill, referring to their father. 

"You filled those shoes and you became the man and the father that we were proud to call brother, father, uncle, son, and most of all, Dad," she said before leaving the stage in tears.  

The tragic case began on Sept. 14 when an Amber Alert was issued for the toddler after Blanchette, 27, was found dead in his Blairmore home and the toddler was missing. 

Police took 22-year-old Derek Saretzky, also of Blairmore, in for questioning on Sept. 15.

The girl's remains were found the next day in a rural area near the small town.

Saretzky was charged the next day with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of indignity to a body. 

He is now undergoing a 30-day psychiatric assessment to determine if he's fit to stand trial. He was taken to hospital on Sept. 23 after staff at the Lethbridge Correctional Centre in southern Alberta found him trying to hang himself.

In an emotional address to the media, Hailey's mother, Cheyenne Dunbar, who lives in Edmonton, said she had been friends years earlier with Saretzky when she lived in Crowsnest Pass.

She and Blanchette were separated, but the two maintained a good relationship and shared custody of Hailey.

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Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette