Memorial walk held north of Edmonton to mark 10 years since woman was killed by her partner
Ten years after a mother from Morinville, Alta., was murdered by her common-law husband in front of her three children, people gathered in the community to remember her and raise awareness about the threat posed by domestic violence.
The seventh annual Jessica Martel Memorial Break Free Run took place on Sunday.
Janice Isberg, executive director of the Jessica Martel Memorial Foundation, said the event, which features one-, five- and 10-kilometre runs, had more participation than ever with 180 people lacing up their running shoes to take part.
“One of the things that I’m very proud of is that we were able to raise over $46,000 today,” Isberg said. “This all goes towards Jessie’s House, which is a safe place for women and men who need to flee their situations because they’re in danger.
“This will serve all of Sturgeon County and St. Albert. It’s a much-needed resource that we wish we could have provided a long time ago but it’s here [now].”
Watch below: (From October 2016) After years of fundraising, Morinville is getting a safe house for abused women.
Isberg said they are working towards having Jessie’s House ready to accept guests this winter. She said her organization has a $3-million fundraising goal for the facility and has already surpassed $1.6 million.
“This is important, especially in Alberta,” she added. “Alberta is the third province with the highest rate of domestic violence and we also know that the domestic violence rate in this part of Alberta is higher than in the rest of Alberta.
“The problem always is that shelters are full.”
Isberg said the shelter will be able to house 35 people at a time.
“The community of Sturgeon County and of St. Albert, they are just rallying together. They know the importance of this.”
Lynne Rosychuk, Martel’s mother and president of the Jessica Martel Memorial Foundation, says she’s touched by the support people have shown for the cause.
“This whole experience has been very touching and overwhelming for my whole family,” Rosychuk said. “Just to see so many people come out and honour Jessica and support this cause.
“It’s just been very overwhelming at times… the generosity of people has just been very touching.”
Rosychuk said she has told the story of what happened to her daughter to people around the world and that raising awareness about domestic violence is just as important as raising money for the safe house.
“I still often hear comments from people about, ‘Oh, why didn’t she just leave?’ Or, ‘Why didn’t she do this? Why didn’t she do that?’
“It’s just not that simple and for us it’s important to educate people on those reasons.”
James Urbaniak is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in connection with Martel’s death.
Morinville is located about 35 kilometres north of Edmonton.