Laughter, tears, dancing and push-ups. The celebration was just how Reid Curtis Parent would have wanted it, as if his spirit were guiding us.
To all who knew him, Reid was a shining light, as unique a character as the Northern Lights he grew up under.
Many people in the music and arts communities in the Yukon have already heard the sad news that Reid Parent passed away November 14 in a car accident on Salt Spring Island, his adopted home for the past four years.
On November 20, friends and family gathered on the island at Beaver Point Hall for Reid’s Celebration of Life. A Whitehorse celebration is planned for this Sunday.
Parent’s heart was never far from Whitehorse, where he grew up alongside his older sister Leah and mother Daisy. When he was in high school he attended the Music, Art and Drama (MAD) program at Wood Street School, where he got his first taste of performing.
Parent was a talented lyricist and musician in both the hip-hop and rap genres. He lived his life for his art and wrote poetry as well as music.
Parent, Chris Ermatinger and Charles Hegsted formed local hip-hop group Proverbial while still in high school. After that Parent was part of other hip-hop groups in Whitehorse over the last decade including Trip and Raw Element.
Recently, he was in a group called Ron 2 Real, performing in many venues and festivals in the Yukon and BC.
Proverbial was in the middle of recording a CD when Parent’s accident happened. Fortunately for his friends and fans, he had completed his vocals, and the other members are currently completing the project.
Parent’s love of others led him to find work with youth, using his own experiences and unending support to inspire others to follow their dreams. He was known for his passion for justice, a true humanitarian with a big heart.
“Reid was always the funny one in the group,” said his cousin Kirsten Ross, explaining they were more than just cousins—they were also friends.
“When you least expected it, he would do something that would make you burst out in laughter. Even though he liked to pretend that he was not doing anything to make you laugh.”
Parent found a new spiritual home on Salt Spring Island, where his easygoing personality was welcomed with open arms.
A light snow was falling on November 20, which is rare for the coastal island. The snow gave a beautiful setting for Reid’s Celebration of Life. Parent’s mother claimed it was “Reiding outside.”
The weather also knocked out the power. The memorial, held at Beaver Point Hall, began without lights or heat, but everyone was warmed with stories about Parent from his sister, Leah Day, his mother, Daisy Lemphers, and his stepfather, Darrell Hookey.
Leah entertained us with her memories of Reid, her “best friend and other half”. Through her tears, she began to howl like a wolf, encouraging everyone to join her, so Reid could hear us howling up at the November blue moon.
“Reid and Grandma are up in the heaven,” added Ross, “arguing over who is really winning the Scrabble game.”
Another friend, a woman who often hosted at her house over dinner, spoke of the light he brought to her life. As she spoke these words, the power came on!
Memories filled hearts and minds as people danced into the night, stopping every once in awhile to do push-ups, which Parent was known to do. You could hear bongos and beat-boxing. It was a day that would have made him proud.
Yukoners who continue to mourn the loss of a great friend, artist and mentor will have a chance to gather together for a memorial in Whitehorse on December 12 at Mount Mac from noon to 2:00 pm.
The family has also set up a scholarship for young musicians. Donations can be made to Bringing Youth Towards Equality (BYTE)—the Reid Parent Scholarship.