05/02/2018 13:08 EDT | Updated 05/02/2018 16:07 EDT

Fundraiser For 3 Cree Boys Who Died In Crash Shows Strength Of Community

The money raised will go towards funeral costs, memorial headstones, and more.

Canadians are banding together to raise funds for three Cree boys from northern Manitoba who were killed on April 28.

Keithan Lobster, 11, Mattheo Moore-Spence, 11, and Terrence Spence, 13, were walking and riding a bike on a main road near Nelson House on the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation when a vehicle hit them. The driver, identified as Todd Norman Linklater, 27, has been charged with impaired driving and failure to remain at the scene.


Following the news, the community worked quickly to support the families of the boys. They held a vigil on Monday evening near the site of the crash, and a GoFundMe page was also set up to raise funds for the children's wake, funeral, and headstones.

As of Wednesday, the campaign has raised more than $48,000 of its $100,000 goal. Many contributors left heartfelt messages on the fundraiser site demonstrating the tragedy's effect on the Cree community and beyond.

"There can be no deeper pain than losing a child," wrote the Menzies family on the GoFundMe page's comments section. "Losing three young boys is tragic and does not make sense. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families, friends, and the entire community."

Ben Gray, another contributor, wrote, "Thinking sorrowfully on the boys and your loss. Sending the community love, strength and well wishes from the woods of northwestern Connecticut."

HuffPost Canada has reached out to the GoFundMe creator, Tori Yetman, for comment.

In addition to funeral costs, the money raised will be used to install proper lighting on the road where the children were killed and "to build safe biking trails on Reserve, as biking in the spring and summer is popular among the Youth."

Grand Chief Sheila North, of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, told CBC News, "That particular area, the roads are in desperate need of repair and other communities around it."

She added: "The lighting within the community needs better infrastructure for people to see better in the dark. But still, I don't know if even those things would have avoided such a tragedy at this time."

In the wake of the tragedy, a temporary alcohol ban has been put in place in the Manitoba community. Marcel Moody, Chief of the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, says this is being done out of respect for the victims' families and the ban will stay in place until the boys' funerals, at the very least.

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