Colleen Sillito's family calls for public inquiry into her murder
The family of Colleen Sillito, the Fort Saskatchewan woman who was killed by her ex-boyfriend last week, is calling on the Alberta government to hold a public inquiry into the events leading up to her death.
In a statement released to the media Thursday, Sillito's family urged the provincial government to call public inquiries into homicides resulting from domestic violence, including one for Colleen.
"We will be requesting that the government convene a public inquiry to examine the circumstances under which Colleen's tragic death occurred and the urgent need for informed intervention to prevent domestic violence deaths in the future," the family wrote.
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Paul Joseph Jacob, Sillito's former common-law partner, killed himself after fatally shooting her on Oct. 2. RCMP say it was a murder-suicide.
Sillito, 46, had sought a restraining order against Jacob, stating that he had threatened to kill her if she left him.
Shannon Phillips, the province's minister responsible for the status of women, said the government is contacting the family hoping to set up a meeting to discuss their concerns.
"My heart goes out to that family and we are reaching out to them," said Phillips. "I'm going to meet with them and hear a little bit more about that from them, so that I can hear from them directly and we can figure out a way forward together."
Phillips said Alberta has high levels of domestic violence and she is reviewing programs related to violence against women to determine if improvements are needed.
"We're not sure that we're doing the best job that we can," said Phillips. "So my first priority is to make sure that the things that we can control — which is our government's work on this matter — are achieving the highest objectives that they can."
RCMP Insp. Gibson Glavin said he knows the family has questions about the RCMP's interaction with Sillito and Jacob prior to her death.
Glavin issued a statement saying the RCMP will respect the government "regarding any action they may take" in response to the family's statement.
Read the full family statement here:
Sillito family calls for public inquiry
"This week we lost our mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. Colleen shone brightly in this world. Her depth of presence can be sensed in the open, authentic expressions of people she photographed. She adored her five children and supported them to be authentic, creative, and loving. As our sister, she was the one we called when we had any kind of news or needed advice—Colleen was instantly interested and attentive. Photography was her livelihood but she was also a videographer, potter, cellist, a children's art teacher, and a yoga teacher. She loved rock climbing and CrossFit and new challenges. She made the world more beautiful, more intelligent, more courageous.
We are heartbroken by her tragic and violent death. And we are filled with questions about how such a horror could happen. More than anything now, we hope her death can help others. We hope other women will not have to lose their lives so needlessly and other children will not have to lose their mothers so horribly. We hope that her death is not something that fades from the public mind once it has passed through the news cycle.
Colleen was a victim of a series of escalating threats and violence. She obtained a Peace Bond and contacted the Fort Saskatchewan RCMP many times when the bond was violated.
Colleen's tragic death underscores the urgent need for the Alberta government to act. Alberta leads the country in the number of domestic violence homicides and homicide-suicides. Our family calls upon the Alberta government, Shannon Phillips, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women and Kathleen Ganley, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General to address the urgent need to hold public inquiries into domestic violence homicides and homicide-suicides. We will be requesting that the government convene a public inquiry to examine the circumstances under which Colleen's tragic death occurred and the urgent need for informed intervention to prevent domestic violence deaths in the future.
We will always remember how Colleen made us feel: the dignity of being human. Please let her, let us, have the dignity that comes with truth."