Scholarships create legacy for slain Calgary writer

One year after Amber Bowerman was killed in a multiple murder-suicide, a foundation set up in memory of the Calgary journalist has created six student scholarships.
Six post-secondary scholarships are being awarded in Amber Bowerman's name. The journalist was killed in May 2008. ((Alberta Views Magazine))

One year after Amber Bowerman was killed in a multiple murder-suicide, a foundation set up in memory of the Calgary journalist has created six student scholarships.

This year, the Amber Webb-Bowerman Memorial Foundation is awarding the $1,000 scholarships, based on merit, at six post-secondary institutions for outstanding students in journalism and the arts.

The registered charity, which has collected more than $20,000, is also sponsoring the inaugural student-writing award at the Western Magazine Awards, to be presented at a ceremony in Vancouver on June 19.

On May 27, 2008, Bowerman, 30, was killed by her landlord, Joshua Lall, in the basement suite she rented in his northwest Calgary home.

Lall proceeded upstairs to fatally stab his wife Alison, two daughters — Kristen, 5, and Rochelle, 3 — and himself. The Lalls' one-year-old daughter was unharmed.

"It was nearly one year ago today that we were here to talk about what we had lost. Today, we are here to talk about what we have gained, what we have built," Bowerman's widower, Chris Bowerman, said Tuesday at a news conference outlining the scholarships.

Amber Webb-Bowerman memorial scholarships

  • SAIT, Calgary - To a student in at least second-year who shows dedication to the journalism arts with preference given to a student involved in the campus newspaper.
  • Mount Royal College, Calgary - To a student in his or her fourth year enrolled in the Communication Studies' journalism program.
  • University of Calgary - To a graduating student in the faculty of fine arts majoring in music.
  • ACAD, Calgary - To a student in fourth-year fine arts studies, majoring in painting.
  • Grant MacEwan College, Edmonton - To a student enrolled third-year of the Bachelor of Applied Communications professional writing program.
  • University of Regina - To a student in fourth-year of the Bachelor of Arts program, majoring in Journalism.

Born and raised in Calgary, Bowerman went to Lord Beaverbrook High School and graduated from the journalism program at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.

She had most recently been a prolific freelance writer for several publications in Calgary, and editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper at SAIT, where she mentored budding journalists.

"She cared about stories that made a difference and that's what she taught students. She was passionate about creating change through her writing and she taught that," said friend and colleague Suzanne Trudell.

Friends and family delighted in sharing stories of the writer's successful and not-so-sucessful exploits.

"She loved to juggle. She'd go into a house, if there were three oranges, three lemons, and three eggs, she didn't care," said Susan Webb, Bowerman's mother, in an interview with CBC News. "I'm a part-time clown and I can't juggle and it just makes me furious."

Bowerman's interests in the arts inspired the awards at the University of Calgary for a music major, and at Alberta College of Art + Design for a painting major.

"Amber painted, she knit, she sang, she danced. She wasn't necessarily quite as talented in all of these pursuits but she did them with passion and love," said friend and Avenue magazine editor Käthe Lemon.

"We hope to help students step into careers in areas that were important to Amber."

Webb said she still misses her daughter but the outpouring of donations and support from across Canada has helped her in her grief.

"I never knew she knew so many people and touched so many lives," she said.

The foundation continues to accept donations to further Bowerman's legacy. A lawn-bowling fundraiser is scheduled for Aug. 8 in Calgary. Bowerman used to compete in a recreational lawn-bowling league.