From today's Gazette
Mother describes parents' worst nightmare: Pain mixed with sense of guilt; Polytechnique massacre in '89 was far from end of violence against women
By PATRICIA ENBORG
"Nothing worse in my life now could ever affect me as much as losing my daughter to a senseless, selfish, horrific murder. It's the ultimate pain I will ever have to face."
With those words, Doreen Haddad-Drummond captured the attention of the audience of young women and men at John Abbott College Tuesday afternoon.
Haddad-Drummond was addressing the topic of violence against women - as the guest speaker of the school's Women's Studies and Gender Certificate Program - on the eve of International Women's Day.
Her 24-year-old daughter, Kelly-Anne Drummond, a former student at John Abbott, was murdered Oct. 5, 2004. Her live-in boyfriend was charged and goes on trial shortly.
Haddad-Drummond recounted how her daughter's violent death affected her and her family from that moment on.
She said their lives were marked by deep sadness and she spent many months blaming herself for the tragedy.
"I should have seen it coming. I should have taken my daughter and hid her from the accused ... but the reality is that I had no control over her aggressor."
More than 35 women and children were murdered in Quebec between November 2003 and November 2004 as a result of domestic violence, Haddad-Drummond said.
She questioned what society has learned since the slaying of 14 young women at the ecole Polytechnique on Dec. 6, 1989.
Too many women are living in silence, too embarrassed to speak out and ask for help, which has been a hard personal lesson, Haddad-Drummond said. "My guilt for not knowing then what I know now, I learned at a very high price."
Haddad-Drummond said she doesn't presume to have the answers, but does believe it's everyone's duty to set a good example: "Our little boys need to be taught to be gentlemen and our little girls should be taught to know the difference between loving and controlling motives."
Shortly after her daughter's death, Haddad-Drummond said she learned about l'Association des Familles de Personnes Assassinees ou Disparues du Quebec (AFPAD), a new organization known in English as the Murdered or Missing Persons' Families' Association. The nonprofit group helps families in similar circumstances and is headed by Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, whose daughter Julie was murdered in 2002. He lost a second daughter, Isabelle, in a car accident last December.
After learning more about AFPAD, Haddad-Drummond founded the West Island chapter of the organization. She serves as co-ordinator, holding monthly meetings at the office of the West Island Community Resource Centre on Donegani in Pointe Claire. So far a dozen families have joined.
Boisvenu also spoke to the John Abbott College gathering on Tuesday, emphasizing the importance of women speaking out about domestic violence. He said he understands why so many women are silent because it takes a lot of courage to denounce an aggressor. About 80 per cent of the murder victims in Quebec are women, he said, "so you see the importance of not remaining silent."
Boisvenu said he gladly accepted the invitation to address the students. "I lost two young girls about your age. Quebec society can't permit the loss of young women, young men, this age. We can't permit this."