A Nanaimo, B.C. mother is devastated after learning a memorial site for her two-year-old son in Burlington, Ont. is being used as a “PokeStop” in the new Pokemon Go video game.
Jenny Latimer’s son Kevin died tragically in February 2004 after falling from a family member’s window, a memory she is still haunted by.
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Latimer awoke to messages from friends Monday morning telling her the boy’s memorial site was being used as a PokeStop, a place where players can refill on in-game items while playing the popular mobile game.
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“I have ongoing nightmares, I always have. Certain things set it off and every time you get better something seems to happen,” she said through tears.
“Things like this just bring up the past and it makes it very hard to deal with.”
A plaque dedicated to her son also appears on the game’s screen, which reads “in loving memory of my courageous little angel may your love and strength shine through to us forever.”
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“It’s pretty destroying knowing that something I consider sacred is part of a game. It’s not a game,” she said.
“It’s very hurtful to know that something that I want to have there as a positive memory is in my eyes being vandalized virtually.”
Two-year-old Kevin James Latimer is seen in this undated family photo.
Latimer said she has reached out to the game’s developer, Niantic, Inc., about removing the PokeStop but has yet to receive a response.
“It’s very disrespectful. The memorial is on sacred ground, it is at a church and it’s a very inappropriate place for people to be playing video games,” she said.
“My mum still goes to that church, and it’s a place people can go and remember him in a positive way and in a peaceful way and this game is making it very disrespectful.”
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She said she is worried the memorial might be damaged and hopes that the developer will soon realize the mistake that’s been made.
Latimer’s cousin Allen Harrington said he was driving to his grandmother’s home in Burlington when he noticed the boy’s memorial pop up as a location in Pokemon Go.
“It is kind of nifty in that it’s probably one of the biggest games ever that has been launched, and from there it’s kind of neat how he’s being immortalized in the game,” he said, adding that his family is staunchly against the PokeStop.
“But at the same time I can see the other side of the story where it’s not a good thing.”
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Latimer said she hopes to receive a response from the game’s developer soon so that she can stop watching her son’s memorial treated as a “circus.”
“I think it would be a great idea to have someone look over and make sure [PokeStops are] not in an inappropriate place, because it can be very hurtful,” she said.
“As much as some people think it’s funny and it’s games, I wouldn’t want my son’s grave or the memorial to be in a picture with a Pokemon.”
A PokeStop in Burlington, Ont. at the site of a memorial for Kevin james Latimer is seen in the game on July 17, 2016.