Newfoundland and Labrador 2019 Christmas Lights map
The power of tech companies comes from the business model in the ...
Nova Scotia startup cracks the shell of traditional seafood industry
Innovation at every level of operations key to Verafin’s success
East Coast climate change researchers shaking things up
What if work wasn’t crazy?
Change is inevitable. Here's how you navigate it
Disruptive innovation is much more difficult than we think
Innovating in the fight against climate change
THE WESTERN STAR
CORNER BROOK, N.L. — A month apart in age, Thomas Park and Jorden Mckay grew up three doors from each other in Dunfield Park in Corner Brook.
Out of his jacket pocket, Park takes a photograph showing the two of them riding bikes many years ago on the street where Park’s grandmother and Mckay’s mother still live.
Park spoke with The Western Star about his best friend Wednesday, the first anniversary of his death.
Mckay was shot and killed in his home on Carriage Lane on Nov. 27, 2018 by a Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer.
Park was one of the last people to see him alive.
The two friends went to school together, partied together and had crushes on the same girls growing up. As boys would, they’d fight and quickly make up.
His friend was an up-tempo person with lots of energy.
“No back doors with him,” said Park.
“No fake love, or fake friendships. He was there for you. I was there for him.”
Park knew his friend had occasional issues with the law, but never once considered him a threat.
“He was a polite person.”
He rode the public transit and had been living in his apartment for some time without any issues.
Mckay, said Park, was often the level-headed one in the friendship. He encouraged Park to be careful, like not parking in a disabled parking spot, and to let things go when frustrated — like showing road rage when cut off in traffic. They were things Mckay said could draw attention from the police.
“Today was the day that he lost his life,” Park said as the conversation turned to Nov. 27 a year ago.
Park was getting ready to go to Toronto to see the Maple Leafs and Raptors play. Driving down Sunnyslope Drive, he saw the familiar strut of his friend, stopped and picked him up.
“It was a beautiful sunny day," recalled Park.
They spent some time together and then Park drove Mckay to the Advanced Education and Skills building on Union Street.
Mckay told his friend he was having a hard time finding work with a criminal record and wanted to look into applying for school, to get his high school diploma.
When they got there, Mckay told Park he’d be sure to PVR the Raptors game and watch it, and he’d see Park when he got back.
It was around 1 p.m.
“He gave me a little handshake through the doorway there, and he went into that Advanced Education and Skills building and that was the last time I ever saw him.
“Last time I saw him living.”
Park said his friend was happy-go-lucky that day.
About 12 hours later, Park got on a plane to Toronto.
When it landed at Pearson Airport and travellers turned on their cellphones, his stepdad saw the news of a death in his neighbourhood.
As they read news reports of a 27-year-old man being shot by police, Park recalled getting a little hysterical on the plane, realizing Mckay lived in that same neighbourhood.
His stepdad calmed him down. Once off the plane, he called his mother, Patricia, who later drove to Mckay’s home where she voiced her upset at his death.
Mckay was in good spirits when he last saw him, not talking about harming himself or anyone else — or the police, said Park.
And that is what he told the Ontario Provincial Police last year. The OPP’s investigation into the shooting is ongoing and once complete will be subject to an independent, external review by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team.
For now, what happened after the RNC officers showed up at Mckay's home, in response to the criminal complaint, is a mystery to those outside the ongoing investigation.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him” - Thomas Park
But that doesn’t stop his friend from wondering what happened. Why couldn’t it have been handled differently? Why did his friend have to be shot?
“I know, if he knew he did wrong, he wouldn’t be resisting,” he said.
“He knew authority.”
And he’s confident Mckay did not have a firearm.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him,” he said.
He considers seeing him that last day as a gift.
Park said there have been times that he’s felt his friend with him, even right after his death.
The hotel he stayed in while in Toronto was the Chelsea Hotel. Chelsea is the name of one of Mckay’s nieces.
And his beloved Raptors won the game he went to see and went on to win the NBA Championship.
Park has a necklace containing some of his friend’s ashes. He doesn’t wear it every day, but felt he had to on the sad anniversary.
His eyes fill up and his voice falters when asked what the past year has been like.
“Rough,” is all he could manage to say.
He misses the most his friend's phone calls and text messages. And his energy.
“Jorden was a real friend.”