Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Silhouettes and families stand for slain women

WECC hosts Silent Witness Project Memorial

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Eighteen silhouettes stood at the West End Cultural Centre late Wednesday morning in memory of women murdered by their partners.

The Silent Witness Project Memorial (SWPM) is an exhibit of 18 life-size, red-painted wooden silhouettes, each representing a woman who has died at the hands of their romantic partners.

Glenda Dean, organizer of the event, has worked with victims of domestic violence for 20 years as executive director at Alpha House, a facility for women and children who have left abusive situations.

Dean said there was a need for a memorial for these women.

"To bring an event that would bring information to the community, to create awareness of domestic violence," Dean said.

The Canadian Women's Foundation website states 67 women were murdered by a current or former spouse or boyfriend in 2009. However, only 18 silhouettes were raised at the event.

"We require permission from the family and we also require that the charges within the court have been resolved," Dean said. The silhouettes are also of women who lived in Winnipeg.

The service began with a prayer from Cree elder and health-care worker Betty Ross. Two RCMP officers then led victims' families to their seats.

Debbie Scromeda was one of several speakers at the event who shared her story of a lost loved one.

Her then 25-year-old daughter, Shannon Scromeda, was murdered by her live-in partner on April 19, 2008 while taking care of her son.

Scromeda said Shannon's son, now nine, wishes he had protected her that day. Scromeda remembers he said, "I wasn't strong enough to help her that day."

But Scromeda tries to remember the good instead of the bad.

"She must have concealed her tears, but not her smile," Scromeda said.

This is the second year Shannon has been honoured at SWPM.

The SWPM movement originated in the U.S. Red silhouettes were used in early services, so the crimson statue became their symbol for the murdered women. The SWPM has since become an international movement, with memorials in more than 30 countries.

Tara Creighton also spoke at the event, which coincides with National Victims of Crime Awareness week. Her sister, Jennifer, was killed by a boyfriend in 2002.

"I was blind to all the warning signs that are clear now looking back," Creighton recalled.

The night Jennifer died, Creighton had a strong feeling she should call her but refrained because it was late at night.

"It still haunts me sometimes," Creighton said.

The service ended with the placing of roses at the feet of the 18 silhouettes. Seventeen statues had plaques with the victims' names on them.

But one statue was simply called "Remember Me" for the women whose cases were unsolved and whose deaths were not yet recognized as homicides.

"The stolen sisters," Dean called them.

cindy.chan@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 25, 2013 A5

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