A voice to those who no longer have one

Andrew Robinson
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Harrowing vigil remembers murdered, missing women

WARNING: This story contains disturbing content

At a vigil for murdered and missing women and girls at the Holiday Inn in St. John’s Monday night, names were read from a card, the card was placed on a table and a candle was taken by the person reading it.
 — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

The pattern was obvious as the names of 68 women were read in front of a large crowd who gathered Monday night at the Holiday Inn in St. John’s.

Graphic details concerning those who were murdered (some were missing, but presumed dead) left little to the imagination.

Killed in front of their children. Killed while pregnant. Women killed with axes, screwdrivers, guns and hammers. Shot and stabbed multiple times. Stuffed in pillowcases. Killed by those who were supposed to love them.

The horrifying details were made even harder to stomach at times when stories were shared by those who knew the victims, either as family members or friends.

Many were audibly emotional, speaking with quivering voices as they shared the story of a loved one’s tragic demise.

The painful emotions linked to the vigil held to remember women and girls either murdered or missing in Newfoundland and Labrador were central to the reason why it had to take place, according to Connie Pike, executive director of the Coalition Against Violence — Avalon East.

“We knew it would be difficult, but you know what?

“There is no way to sugarcoat murder. We have to start telling it like it is, calling it what it is, speaking about it, and for people to listen (to) it.”

Most of the names listed in the program for Monday’s event involved dates spanning the last two decades. Leslie MacLeod of Marguerite's Place noted organizers were aware of 61 names a week ago (some were listed as “unknown,” often tied to murder-suicides), but the list grew to 68 since news of the event spread through media reports.

The earliest date linked to a murder involved Mary Hearn, killed in June of 1815 in St. John’s. She was violently assaulted and beaten to death by her husband.

Veronica Lewis, killed last fall at the age of 57 after a car hit her that was allegedly driven by her boyfriend, was the most recent victim.

Pike, who is also a former Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer, said the province’s justice system cannot be expected to fix the ongoing issue of violence against women, as the vast majority of incidents go unreported.

“There were women in this city last night who were beaten. There are women tonight who will be beaten, and tomorrow night. Sometimes the children see, sometimes they don’t, but they’ll always know. We have to start treating people with dignity and respect and kindness, and we have to model that behaviour. ... We have to teach our young people about healthy relationships. They have to know very early on what abuse looks like.”

The fact Monday’s event functioned as a means to link so many tragic events in the province’s history together proved to be an important step in honouring the memories of those who could not be present at the vigil, in Pike’s view. While it is beneficial for people like herself to share the stories of those who were killed, Pike said those stories become much more impactful when shared by family members and friends.

“These women and girls no longer have voices. We have to be their voice. You have to be their voice. You have to tell their story. You have to tell anyone who will listen. You will have to tell it often, and you will have to keep repeating it over and over to another person. And every person that you tell, ask them to tell someone else. If we don’t get the word out — if we don’t stop this mayhem against women and girls — this list will grow and grow and grow.”



Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Avalon East

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Recent comments

  • Yo mama
    February 06, 2014 - 13:31

    Blame the justice system, when punishments fit the crime, they shall decrease......that goes for all crime.

  • Millie Walsh
    February 05, 2014 - 05:42

    I am Samantha Walsh's mother. Feb 6 marks 14 years since Sammie was murdered. I have been left with a heart that never completly mends. I miss and mourn for Sam, for the life I have missed; and have shed many tears for others who have had to deal with such unnecessary violence. I see her face, I see her smile, I touch her, i hear her laugh, .. all in my memory. Broken hearts are connected forever..We need to say it loud.. because the evidence declares that change is slow...

    • KENK
      February 05, 2014 - 18:15

      As a mother and grandmother my heart bleeds for you. I always wished that I could say or do something for you that would take away or ease your pain. Please know that Sam has touched more lives than you could imagine. God bless you and all of Sam's family and friends. ((( HUGS)))

    February 04, 2014 - 11:49

    I am a 35 year old woman. In my early 20's, I met a person who turned out to be the "MONSTER" in my dreams. Looking back, I should have left him the first month. I was verbally and physically abused for years. I've had a broken nose and cigarette burns to my body. I hav been woken from being charlie horsed. What ended it for me was thoughts I would have about how to kill him. Shameful, NO! It was FEAR and thoughts of an escape. It has been 15 years or more now, and I still have frequent dreams about being in that relationship. Every time I hear of a murder-suicide, I think, "this could've been me". BUT, it NEVER WILL. Please pray for those who struggle daily from either MENTAL, PHYSICAL or VERBAL Abuse. They are out there.

  • KENK
    February 04, 2014 - 09:26

    I was wondering if the list of these missing/murder girls and woman are published anywhere? I knew 2 victims of murder and think there should be some sort of shrine listing all of the victims. Each and every one of them were a daughter, sister, aunt, wife, mother or grandmother. They deserve respect and a monument where their family and friends can go to honor them.

  • Rough Enough
    February 04, 2014 - 08:32

    I am the product of a very violent childhood. I was removed from my parents home only to be placed in a second violent home with my siblings, the authorities never had a clue when I thought it was so obvious to the whole world. My parents were the products of violence, as were my foster family. God only knows about their parents. The fighting never stopped long enough for me to ask. I am proud to say I married a wonderful man, opposite of my father. We are working on 2 decades together, and he still treats me like a queen. I swore I would never let anybody treat me the way my mother was treated, and I stuck to it. Unfortunately I had to remove myself from the majority of my known family members to achieve the peace I do have in my life. But if that is the price I have to pay for my children to grow up in a secure, loving home with stable parents, I was more than willing to do that. I only hope my children will carry on the respect and love I strive to teach them. Someday I will tell them about my family, if only to reinforce the need for respect and communication. But right now I don't need them having those horrible images in their innocent little minds. I pray for all those struggling out there, to find the peace and love that I finally have.

  • a mother and a grandmother
    February 04, 2014 - 08:32

    It was so emotional to watch this and read this and my prayers go out to the families that mourn the loss of their loved one. No woman nor man deserves to be beaten or killed and I mean NO ONE... After reading many of the articles on those murdered vicitims it is very plain to see that those lost souls had issues prior to being killed ... some sought counselling and some did not , The families will always carry those murdered in their memories and minds until the bitter end and those are the ones who now need the support and help. We have quite a few violent woman out in society as well .. one in particular whose name was listed on that row call was one herself and she inflicted hardship and violence not only to herself but to her family as well... how can we as a society help those woman before they become a statistic or make some else a statistic. May God grant peace to all the families involved.

  • Herb Morrison
    February 04, 2014 - 06:15

    *It was 1954, *I was six years of age. My mother was s8itti8ng in our k8itchen holding my newborn sister in her arms. My Dad was there too. My parents were arguing at the time. Dad, who had been drinking walk, walked over to where my Mom was si8tti8ng, drew back his hand, and smacked Mom across the face. That image remains seared into my brain fifty years later. I was left emotionally scarred by this incident. It took years for me to come to terms with this incident, which is still painful to recall.