A mother's journey
By Suzana Vukic
It happened five years ago but for Doreen Haddad-Drummond, it feels like yesterday. On October 3, 2004, just before midnight, she got a phone call from her ex-husband John Drummond. Their daughter Kelly-Anne had been attacked and was at the Montreal General Hospital. Doreen was half-asleep when she took the call. It all seemed like a dream.
Once at the Montreal General Hospital's trauma unit, in the midst of chaos, she saw Kelly-Anne hooked up to life-support machines. A brain scan revealed a knifeblade still embedded in Kelly-Anne's head. Her brain stem had been severed from her spinal cord. No medical solution existed to fix this. The stabbing left Kelly-Anne brain-dead and paralyzed, unable to breathe without life support.
Doreen wanted to hold on to hope but realized that was impossible. On October 5, 2004, at 3:30 p.m., the family decided to turn off Kelly-Anne's life support.
Martin Morin-Cousineau, Kelly-Anne's boyfriend, stabbed her behind the neck with a steak knife, approaching from behind, in the apartment they shared in Pierrefonds. It emerged that Morin-Cousineau had a history of violence towards women and that Kelly-Anne had been considering leaving him. He pleaded not guilty and claimed the fatal blow was an accident.
At his 2006 trial, a jury found Morin-Cousineau guilty of second-degree murder, a charge which automatically carries a life sentence. He must serve a minimum of 13 years in prison before being considered for parole. He remains unrepentant to this day.
It's hard to fathom a mother coping and going on with the knowledge that her precious daughter, at 24, lost her life at the hands of someone she knew and loved. Yet go on she must, and Doreen has found the courage to do so with great dignity and purpose. Since Kelly-Anne's death, Doreen has been involved with and given support to families of homicide victims. These days, her efforts are focused on speaking at conferences and getting her message out to women who are victims of abuse and violence, urging them to leave their abusers before it's too late. "We've lost too many women in Quebec", says Doreen.
Kelly-Anne left behind her parents and sister Kim, exactly 11 months younger than her and someone for whom Kelly-Anne was a great friend and mentor. Kelly-Anne also had many friends who mourn her to this day. She was a popular young woman, an accomplished athlete and team player. She played rugby and water polo, among other sports, and was a lifeguard. She had gone to Italy weeks before her death to compete at an international lifeguarding competition in Viareggio. Kelly-Anne had graduated with a communications degree from Concordia University in 2002. She worked as an educator in a daycare with small children.
On October 5, the family will commemorate the fifth anniversary of Kelly-Anne's death in a small, private remembrance ceremony.
On September 29, a fundraising women's rugby event was held, as it has been every year at around the same time since Kelly-Anne's death. The Kelly-Anne Drummond Memorial Cup is played between the Concordia and McGill women's rugby teams in her honour (Kelly-Anne played for the Concordia Stingers). This year the money raised will go to Women Aware, an organization that provides support to women facing conjugal violence. Each year in March since her death, the Montreal Barbarians Rugby Club (for whom Kelly-Anne also played) hosts a fundraiser at McKibbin's Irish Pub, West Island, "celebrating the spirit of Kelly-Anne".
On November 28, as in every year since her death, the Quebec Lifesaving Society will hold a cocktail fundraiser for the Kelly-Anne Drummond Foundation to commemorate her birthday at the D.D.O. Aquatic Centre. This is the year she would have turned 30.
All of these events are hosted by Kelly-Anne's friends, peers and fellow athletes, something Doreen finds deeply touching.
Especially heartwarming is a blog created by Kelly-Anne's good friend, Rachel Ayerst, in remembrance of Kelly-Anne (http://kadrummond.blogspot.com). Doreen has also created her own blog in remembrance of her late daughter (http://mydaughterkelly-anne.blogspot.com). In reading it, one can see that Kelly-Anne's spirit is still strongly felt by Doreen as she lives out each day without her. Doreen looks to Kelly-Anne for an example of how best to live life. She sees her daughter as her guide and mentor. Kelly-Anne loved life and people. She had a great sense of adventure, always smiled and laughed, and was forever keen on learning and being involved.
"It's a life sentence that we're living," Doreen says. "Every day that we're alive and that Kelly-Anne isn't here with us is a life sentence."