A permanent memorial for two lost in tornado

The tornado at Scarth just over a month ago shook communities and took two young lives. Now, a permanent memorial has been erected at the site where Melita teens Shayna Barnesky and Carter Tilbury lost their lives.

On the east side of the highway, alongside John Colangelo’s field, the memorial stands near a new hydro pole, one of many that had to be replaced from the tornado. The idea to remember the youths in this way came from Lisa and Rob Gilliland, whose property is nearby.

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They watched the funnel from their kitchen window. Rob says, “I watched the tornado come across the 83 Highway. It headed straight for my house for about 10 minutes. It then veered north and crossed Road 51 before proceeding northeast. The centre of the tornado, at its closest point was a quarter mile from my house.”

The Gillilands had minor damage with trees uprooted and such, but they felt the breath of its wrath and the loss for these families weighed on Rob and Lisa.

Lisa says, “There was absolutely nothing we could do to bring back these two young people, nothing. But we could do a memorial for the families to perhaps bring some comfort.”

Rob says, “It is something very rare in Canada for people to be killed in a tornado. To lose two people so young with their whole lives in front of them is an unspeakable tragedy.”

Local craftsmen collaborated.

“I approached Jim because I knew he had oak planks,” says Gilliland. Chapman also designed and built the metal work. A friend of the Tilbury family, Valentin Pankratz from Pipestone did the engraving on the oak.

With most of the work and material donated, they needed a piece of ground to place this memorial. “I needed to borrow a tractor from Johnny Colangelo to put it up. When I told Johnny what we were doing, he insisted it be placed on his land,” says Gilliland. “We added a sign-in visitors’ book and there it stands.”

© Virden Empire-Advance