"It was not easy."
That's how Roch Brisson summed up his experience watching the murder trial of the man who killed his son, Christopher Brisson, in 2015. Darryl Sheepway's trial in Yukon Supreme Court concluded earlier this month, and a verdict is expected in the new year.
"I believe in the higher power, and the day the trial started I looked upstairs and I said, 'give me strength, because I'm going to need it,'" Roch Brisson recalled.
Sheepway has admitted to shooting Christopher Brisson dead, after arranging a meeting with him to buy drugs. But Sheepway pleaded not guilty to a first degree murder charge, saying he did not intend to kill Brisson.
Roch Brisson says losing Christopher has been devastating, for him and his large, extended family. Roch has three daughters, nine grandchildren, and 11 siblings.
"That's a lot of people [Sheepway]'s affected," he said.
Connecting with Sheepway's former wife
During the trial, Brisson sometimes sat with Sheepway's former wife, Katherine Scheck. It was Scheck who first contacted RCMP in 2016, after Sheepway confessed his crime to her.
"I really believe that lady is really courageous for what she did," Brisson said. "She went to the RCMP and she did what she had to do, for herself, and her kids."
He says Scheck and her children are also victims.
"I met her, I talked with her, we cried together. But I'm telling you — it's not easy for me, it's not easy for her," he said.
"She's got a long road ahead of her, because the kids are going to be asking questions."
Brisson has not had an easy time either. He's been troubled by news coverage of the trial, which he feels has painted Christopher simply as a drug dealer, because of Sheepway's testimony.
"Sometimes people read too much of that, and come to the wrong conclusion," he said.
'The phone's not really ringing anymore'
Brisson's says his work has also suffered. He hires himself out as a labourer, but says he's not as busy as he once was.
"The phone's not really ringing anymore, because people are, 'well, I don't want to hire this guy, because his son was mixed up in drugs, whatever.'"
He is grateful for the help he's received, though — through counselling and other services. He feels he's lucky to live in Yukon, and wouldn't have received the same help elsewhere.
He's been seeing a counsellor for two years now.
"The good Lord, all the time puts the right person in your path when you need it. And he put her in my path," he said.
Brisson said he's also gained a new perspective on his childhood, which he describes as "hell." Those difficult early experiences, he says, somehow gave him a well of strength that he now draws from.
He also has advice, for anybody else who finds themselves in a similar situation of traumatic and unexpected loss.
"Reach out. Reach out to somebody."