by Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Five years to the day after a Morinville woman was slain by her common law husband, a candle light vigil will be held in her memory and to raise awareness of domestic violence and the work the Jessica Martel Memorial Foundation (JMMF) is doing to help women in need. The event will take place Apr. 29 at 7 p.m. at Morinville Christian School and all are welcome to attend. Martel’s mother, Lynne Rosychuk, said the event is an opportunity to remember her daughter a half decade after her passing. “It’s us remembering Jessica and the person she was, the amazing woman she was and could have been,” Rosychuk said, adding the loss of her daughter is still painful but that the foundation and its work has helped her and her family cope. “Jessica would be amazingly proud of what we have accomplished as a group and the women and children that we’ve been able to help.”
For Rosychuk and the JMMF that helping out can make an incredible difference in the life of someone who is in an abusive situation. “We’re trying to help victims start a new life,” she said, adding the organization is trying to get all agencies involved in working together.
“If we all stand up against domestic violence, we can make a difference in their lives.”
More awareness needed
The organization is hoping the vigil will further the organization’swork by making people aware of what they do. Organization Vice President Laura Hennie said the JMMF is currently making sure partnerships between themselves, the RCMP, Sturgeon Victim Services and other agencies are strong so victims of domestic violence can get the assistance they need.
Although the JMMF has a long-term goal of opening a women’s shelter somewhere in Sturgeon County, they realize that reality will take some time. They are focusing on strategic planning next year with an eye towards setting timelines for a shelter, but the group is currently focused on providing women with the assistance they need now. “Outreach is something we can do right now with the resources we have,” Hennie said, adding outreach is a first step towards other goals. “Our priorities have shifted in terms of putting less focus on a shelter and [more towards] meeting women’s needs right in the moment. We’ve found a women’s shelter, although it is an important goal for us, [the more pressing need is] women have been telling us they need is support in getting established.” That help consists of helping with furniture and necessities and assisting to find affordable housing, things the JMFF is now focused on.
Organizers are hoping people will come out to the candlelight vigil to remember Jessica Martel and to be mindful of the plight of women in abusive situations. Speakers for the event include Doreen Slessor from SAIF (Stop Abuse In Families) Society and Pastor Matty Choppin.
The event takes place at Morinville Christian School Apr. 29 at 7 p.m. All are welcome to attend.