This information was shared with local media.
Upon hearing the decision of Justice Alison Beames of a sentence of four years for the manslaughter of Heather Barker, Archway Society for Domestic Peace offers the following message and information. Archway is more than willing to provide our thoughts on the sentence and how this case has unfolded. Please feel free to contact us for comments and more information. In addition, we encourage you to include our contact information in any stories that you publish about gender-based violence.
• Justice in these cases is very challenging. Heather is dead. Dead at the hands of her partner, someone who was supposed to love her, support her and respect her. Once again, our thoughts and sympathy go out to her children, family, and friends.
• Everyone has the right to live free from violence. However, many Canadians across the country continue to face violence every day because of their gender, gender expression, gender identity or perceived gender. This is referred to as gender-based violence (GBV) and is a violation of human rights.*
• If you look closely, you will see the roots of GBV all around you, in media messages that objectify women, in the jokes that demean LGBTQ2 (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two-Spirit) people and in the rigid gender norms imposed on young children.*
• We want to ensure that no one who is experiencing violence lacks the resources or ability to be safe and to access our support. We can be privately and securely contacted via phone, email, and social media, and encourage anyone who wants information about their options, support or immediate help should reach out to us.
Sherry Demetrick, Co-Ed at Archway Society, “What would be an appropriate sentence for Mr. Wiebe? How much time in jail would be long enough? What does true justice look like? 4 years for taking another’s life does not seem adequate. We would like to draw a comparison to the 2021 Kelowna case of Billie-Jo Bennett who is currently serving a 14 year sentence in prison for the manslaughter death of her male partner. Obviously, there are differences between these cases but the commonality is that these are both manslaughter convictions but have significant variances in sentencing.”
Sherry Demetrick, Co-Ed at Archway Society, “Ultimately Heather is gone. We can honour her life and do what we can to support her family but as a community we need to recognize the prevalence of intimate partner violence and the tragic outcomes that can result. It is our responsibility to be educated, know what kind of resources are available and if you think someone is being abused or in an unhealthy or unsafe relationship then speak to them. Let them know you are there for them and that they have options. Options that exist if they choose to leave but also if they choose to stay.”
Micki Materi, Co-Ed at Archway Society, “One of the many things I have learned over the years is that we have a legal system, not a justice system. A system that focusses on legal procedures, legal precedents, legal principles, etc. Crown represents the people, not the victims. The victims are witnesses in criminal matters. So, how is justice really served?
We certainly don’t see justice in this case. What is justice to a family that lost their mother in such a horrific, needless way? Heather isn’t here to present her voice with the circumstances surrounding her death. And yes, the loss of Heather isn’t just to her family and her community, the potential for humanity is lost whenever a woman is murdered.”
Sherry Demetrick, Co-Ed at Archway Society, “At Archway we have true wrap around support for those experiencing domestic violence. This includes safe shelter for those women choosing to leave their partners, support to find permanent housing, and help navigating the justice system. Equally importantly we also have a wide breadth of services if they choose to stay in their relationship. Safety planning, counselling, and support for those women too. We have staff who are non-judgmental, professional, confidential, and who know how difficult these situations are. They have devoted their careers to helping women, children, youth, and families through these situations and are supportive and encouraging. So please reach out to us if you feel like you need help or support. We do not want to see another woman die at the hands of her partner in our community.”
*Source: Women and Gender Equality Canada – Government of Canada 2022-02-07