A brief and dignified candlelight service for five fishers lost at sea attracted more than 100 people, despite frigid winds Sunday, to Pictou’s waterfront alongside the Northumberland Fisheries Museum’s quay.
Local leaders and a band featuring the voice of Dolores Dagenais stood on the deck in front of the museum’s lobster hatchery to pay tribute to the five fishers from Woods Harbour who have gone missing for a week after their fishing boat capsized in the high winds of the previous weekend’s winter storm.
The song Degenais sang was one she wrote earlier in the day for the vigil.
“It was very emotional,” said Dagenais, who is from Sudbury, Ont., but now resides in Pictou. “We had rehearsals, but there were moments when we were getting choked up. You can’t help but be emotional.
“It’s a sad night in Woods Harbour,” said Ron Heighton, president of the Northumberland Fishermen’s Association.
Mayor Joe Hawes of Pictou and Warden Ronald Baillie also expressed sentiments in support of the families of the five fishers who went missing and are presumed dead.
“I couldn’t believe the turnout,” Hawes said. “It was a cold night but we wanted people in Woods Harbour to know how we feel and that we identify with them.”
There was some closure and fallen spirits when divers from a recovery team later last week braved still dangerously high swells as they dove underneath the craft. They found the wheelhouse, where loved ones hoped some of the crew might have huddled from the elements, had been ripped from the hull.
Pictou West MLA Charlie Parker noted the relationship people in Pictou County who follow the sea have with fishers and families around Woods Harbour, such as the fishers who compete successfully in lobster boat races during the annual Pictou Lobster Carnival.
“I think it was an opportunity for local families to show solidarity for these families in the South Shore,” he said. “They share the same vocation and values. So when tragedy strikes we all feel that, whether it’s Caribou, Cape John or Toney River. It’s unexpected but it’s never easy.”