Family of murder victim hopes to shed light on domestic violence
Paula Gallant was strangled to death by her husband in December 2005. Her body was left in the trunk of her car outside Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea Elementary School, where she had taught since 1999.
Published Monday, February 11, 2013 6:37PM AST
Last Updated Monday, February 11, 2013 6:38PM AST
Statistics show one in three women will be affected by domestic violence in their lifetime but those who work in the field say people still don’t want to talk about it.
Many people still consider domestic violence to be a private issue, but a family whose loved one was murdered by her husband is hoping to change that.
“Our hope is we give a voice to not only her story, but all women who have lost their lives through violence, or women who continue to live with violence,” says Lynn Blackburn.
Blackburn’s sister, Paula Gallant, was strangled to death by her husband in December 2005. Her body was left in the trunk of her car outside Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea Elementary School, where she had taught since 1999.
Jason MacRae was arrested nearly five years later and eventually sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years.
“I would have been one of the people that didn’t, you know, understand how prevalent it was, and now I understand unfortunately all too clearly,” says Blackburn.
Myrna Dawson works in the Sociology and Anthropology Department at the University of Guelph and is a guest speaker at a domestic violence symposium in Halifax.
She says violence against women and girls is still prevalent worldwide and cuts across all sectors of classes and cultures.
“There’s a general perception I think in the general public that these are crimes of passion, that they can’t be predicted, etc,” she says. “So I think the message I’m bringing is that it can be prevented and the community can play a role in that.”
In the last 11 years, 39 women in Nova Scotia have been murdered by their partners. Eleven of those cases were murder-suicides while eight of them took place in rural areas and involved long guns.
“When things like this happen in small communities, everybody kind of goes back to their house and shuts the door and doesn’t want to talk about it,” says Dolly Mosher, co-founder of Silent Witness Nova Scotia.
“What we want is communities to go to their policing agencies and say ‘there’s domestic violence here, how can we partner with you to get programs in our communities?’”’
Silent Witness Nova Scotia will unveil four silhouettes Monday night in memory of four women murdered by their partners.
The silhouettes will be taken to different locations around the province to raise awareness about the issue.
Paula gallant is among those being remembered.
“You hope to create awareness that she was like the neighbour next door,” says Blackburn. “She was your child’s schoolteacher. She could be your child’s aunt.”
Those involved in the project hope the silhouettes will serve as a physical reminder of real women who lived among us and whose lives ended violently.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster