Lives lost but not forgotten

City councillor calls for domestic violence offender registry

Canada needs to adopt a domestic violence registry even if it means infringing on individual rights of offenders, a City councillor said Friday at the sixth annual Shoe Memorial.

About 50 people attended a noon-hour ceremony, held to commemorate the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women at St. Andrew's on the Square.

"December 6 is about remembering, but it's also a call for change," said Lynn ChassÉ, who organizes the memorial, as she stood before more than 700 pairs of shoes covering most of the hall's floor space.

Each pair bore the name of a B.C. woman murdered since 1947, names that ChassÉ researches and compiles. Cardboard silhouettes, representing some of the victims of domestic violence in Interior communities, were placed in chairs.

"That's a shocking number to realize that each pair of shoes represents a life," said Coun. Marg Spina, one of several speakers.

"The last being CJ Fowler, a little girl from Terrace who was senselessly murdered last year, her body left in a ravine," she added.

Spina recalled the words of Marc Lepine, who massacred 14 female students in Montreal in 1989. Before his murderous rampage, Lepine declared his hate for feminists.

"He galvanized an entire country to think about violence against women," she said.

Yet statistically, violence against women remains unchanged. Spina was not the only speaker to call for more public education and open dialogue. Shame and indifference still allow domestic violence to go unchecked.

She said there is a clear need to establish a registry so that offenders can be effectively tracked.

"We need to protect our most vulnerable citizens," despite risk of infringing on rights. "Honestly, this is the time for the balance to be shifted so that we know who these people are."

Other countries have taken more effective preventive measures, said Gayle Nelson, president of CUPE 900.

"We do need strategies on violence and the only way were going to get it is to go out and demand it."

"First we mourn, then we work for change," said Debby Hamilton, regional co-ordinator of the Ending Violence Association of B.C.

And change has been occurring, if all too slowly.

Fighting back tears, Kimberley McCart recounted how her mother was murdered by her estranged father in 1983, when she was just four years old. There was a restraining order against him, but police trusted his word when he said he was leaving town. He shot McCart's mom in her workplace and served 15 years in prison, though he'll never be free, she said.

"We are thankful that women today have a far greater chance of surviving domestic violence than my mother had," McCart said. "I'm hoping that I'm the last daughter who will have to share her mother's story of violence and murder."

Potential victims as well as friends, neighbours and relatives, were advised to watch for symptoms of potential domestic violence, symptoms that may include excessive jealousy, controlling behaviour, bullying and threats.

The shoes are saved and donated to the women's shelter each spring. With so many more shoes this year, ChassÉ is uncertain whether the shelter could use them all.

© Copyright 2018 Kamloops Daily News