Tanya Campbell-Losier was 19 when she died last Sunday, two days after allegedly being assaulted in a town where over 10 per cent of the population sought help from the local women's shelter last year.
RCMP arrested Campbell-Losier's boyfriend Jesse Dyck the night they arrived at a Brooks residence and found her with significant injuries, charging Dyck with aggravated assault. Police say there is the possibility of further charges pending the results of an autopsy.
"They loved each other very much, and that's about all I'm going to say about that because of the investigation," said Campbell-Losier's mom, Lorraine Losier. "Tanya was a loving girl. She loved her Jesse. She loved him."
Difficult to leave
Losier is determined not to let the anger and hate take hold in the wake of her child's death. She says Campbell-Losier, who cared for animals and spread joy to all who knew her, would want her to focus on the positive.
She says she can't change what happened and hate isn't going to bring her girl back, and she doesn't want to think about the what-ifs and could-have-beens, even though she saw signs of abuse between her daughter and Dyck.
She knows from her own experience with abuse how difficult it is to leave.
"When you love somebody you think, 'Okay, they're going to change,' especially when they tell you 'I'm going to change, I'm never doing that to you again. Never, ever, ever.' I've been in that position myself," she said.
Bringing abuse out of the shadows
Shauna Bell, the executive director of Cantara Safe House in Brooks, said last year the shelter served 1,700 people through its outreach program, with 135 of those staying in the shelter.
She says the issue of abuse has to be brought out of the shadows, and that includes the shelters themselves. This summer Cantara will be moving to a new location with the intent of being in the public view and part of the community.
"I feel incredibly sad that these things are still kept secret in families, that people are still embarrassed to come forward and get help, to say what's going on. I feel angry that things have to get to this point and I feel like it's a huge shame because two families have lost — obviously one more than the other — but two have lost, and so has the community," she says in reference to the alleged beating of Campbell-Losier.
'She was a tough little girl'
Losier hopes there is some way to open the eyes of those stuck in abusive relationships.
"Hopefully we can make them understand, these people who are being abused that, 'Hey, I will not accept this, this is unacceptable behaviour. I am worth more. I am worth more than just being someone's kick-around bag.' And even if it's not physical, sometimes emotional can hurt just as much," she said.
She says too many people think they're tough and can handle it.
"I think that was Tanya's case — 'I'm tough.' She was tough. She was a tough little girl, I tell ya."
Campbell-Losier's aunt, Deana Campbell, says if we're going to take abuse seriously as a society, there have to be immediate consequences for the abusers.
"If it gets to that point that they're hitting somebody, especially a woman, you have an issue. You personally have a huge, huge issue. So they should absolutely be put in mandatory anger management," she said.
"Zero tolerance. When there's tolerance for something people keep doing it."
'Nothing is going to bring her back'
For now, Losier will have to struggle with trying to remain positive as she mourns the loss of her daughter.
"I love my baby girl so much. You have no idea what it's like to realize she's not going to walk in that door and say to me 'Hi mommy, I love you,'" she said fighting back tears.
"Yes, I want to go in a field and run and run and run and run until I fall down. That's not going to bring her back. Nothing is going to bring her back."