Murder Inspired Vigil

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Christina Myers, Mission City Record, June 19, 2003


A small knot of women gathered in front of the Mission Indian Friendship Centre on Tuesday for a vigil inspired by the murder of Sherry Heron and her mother Anna Adams at Mission hospital last month.

The event, said organizer Charito Gailing of the Woman's Resource Society, was intended to recognize women in Mission who have been abused or may still be in dangerous and abusive situations.

"Violence affects all of us, directly or indirectly," she told the crowd. "I realize I live in a society where I am more vulnerable to abuse because I am a woman.

"Violence against women can only take place in a community that permits it," she added.

A poem read by Gailing, titles Warrior, included the line"...And I will a fierce warrior be, until not another woman dies."

That sentiment seem to sum up the theme of the speakers, Pauline Funston of the Vancouver Rape Relief Centre and Suzanne Jay of the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres, who where on hand to speak to the vigil. Both emphasized the need for awareness and change.

Funston told the group women in her transition house were "sad and angry and afraid" when they heard Heron was murdered by her husband, Bryan Heron. Bryan Heron killed himself a few days later as police were closing in on him.

"The police needed to listen," said Funston, noting that though there was a restraining order against Heron at the time of the murder, the RCMP said there was no threat of violence in the order.

Jay agreed: "We've tried to bring national attention to this case. And we're looking forward to the explanation the coroner brings...(and hope) it will lead to change."

The vigil also displayed shirts painted by local women and children who have suffered from abuse- one child's shirt read "No one my size should be afraid to go home"- and a collection of news articles detailing violence against women in the local area.

Mission resident Danielle Cairns, who attended the vigil, said she came out to voice her opposition to violence against women.

"It's a real problem even though it may not be visible," she said

"I wouldn't say I was surprised (by the double murder). Unfortunately, it's not surprising, but it is disheartening. I'm dismayed by it," she said.

Two young attendees, sisters Alanna and Jessica Jurgens, 16 and 13 years old, said they've had a good education on violence and how to avoid it or find help since their mother works at the Women's Resource Society. But both agreed that the recent murders have made them even more aware, and hesitant to to even walk home alone. 

On Monday, the province's chief coroner ordered an inquest into the double murder. Heron and her mother Adams, 68, both suffered gunshot wounds to the head in the May 20 shooting.