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Death on Kennedy and Invisible Jeanine

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I suspect if I ever saw 32-year-old Jeanine Allen – and odds are, I likely did, as this is Winnipeg – I wouldn’t have looked twice.

Police haven’t said yet whether Allen died of foul play. She was found in her Winnipeg apartment on Kennedy Street last Thursday with unknown injuries. As of this morning, police were still waiting on full autopsy results to determine the cause of death. 

Regardless of whether Allen’s death was homicide or not, there was something about the self-proclaimed loner I found quite moving.

"Wants to go home too, missing my family there," she wrote on her Facebook page days before her death.

Maybe it was the length of time before her body was found, like nobody really kept track of her. One report I got was that it was welfare workers who clued in something had gone wrong for Allen, thus leading them to get a caretaker to open her suite, thus revealing her body.

Maybe it was Allen’s stretch to get by on social assistance, which meant luxuries for her were paying $10 to watch pay-per-view wrestling at a Main Street bar, according to a friend.

Maybe it was the fact she was tossed out by her adopted family at the age of 18, according to her biological mother. Her remaining biological relatives live about 1000 kilometres north of her, plus an aunt who ran into Jeanine last month while waiting for a food hamper to be delivered.

Allen’s photo didn’t run in our paper, but I've included a few here. There’s something eminently familiar about her, another lost young woman.

And I thought of this poem, Musee des Beaux Arts, which cemented my love of W.H. Auden:

"About suffering they were never wrong,

The Old Masters; how well, they understood

Its human position; how it takes place

While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;

How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting

For the miraculous birth, there always must be

Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating

On a pond at the edge of the wood:

They never forgot

That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course

Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot

Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse

Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away

Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may

Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,

But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone

As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green

Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen

Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,

had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on."


Another update – no arrest made in the Wildewood Club mischief spree, at least according to club staff. Club president Gord Doerksen told me today that the club is still closed after a spate of mischief that left it with more than $100,000 damage but could be reopening as soon as January 5.

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About Gabrielle Giroday

Gabrielle has handled the police and crime beat for the Winnipeg Free Press since 2009, meaning she’s seen the best and worst humanity has to offer.

Covering the crime beat in a city known for its homicide rate and violent crime can be challenging, but Gabrielle tries to look at the more complex factors that drive violent events. She began the beat after originally joining the Free Press in June 2005.

Her previous experience contributing to the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business magazine, the National Post, Maisonneuve magazine and NOW Magazine. She was also a member of the editorial board of the Queen’s University Feminist Review, and completed a degree there in politics and English. Some of the Toronto native’s favourite adventures include hitchhiking in the Cuban countryside during a stint studying in Havana, and hanging off the back of a jeep climbing the Kanchenjunga mountain in Nepal.

Gabrielle also felt privileged to write about the first-time elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the summer of 2006, and received a grant from the Canadian Association of Journalists and Canadian International Development Agency to write about sexual violence there.

She recently went to Cameroon in fall 2010 as part of an expert election monitoring team, on behalf of the Commonwealth.

When she’s not chasing a story, Gabrielle can be found jogging every morning by the Legislature and down Portage Avenue.

She’s always enthusiastic about stories that involve investigating the road less travelled or the opinion less broadcast.

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