LRT homicide victim once ran innovative youth program

The woman shot to death at an LRT station in 2010 ran an award-winning restorative justice program for youth when she was 15-years-old and homeless.

The woman shot to death at an LRT station in 2010 ran an award-winning restorative justice program for youth when she was 15-years-old and homeless.

Heather Rae Thurier was shot in the head May 21, 2010 at the Stadium LRT platform. (Facebook)

"She was a true advocate," said youth court worker Mark Cherrington, who worked with Heather Thurier on the Youth Restorative Action Project when it was founded in 2001.

Thurier was shot and killed at the Stadium LRT station on May 21, 2010. Colton Ferguson is on trial for first-degree murder. 

The youth-run project works out of Youth and Family Court helping young people who commit crimes get alternative sentences rather than prison.

The youth make sentencing recommendations to the courts, mentor young offenders, and advocate for changes to social policy.

Thurier was the program's first coordinator, a position she held for about three years.

Awarded Royal Commonwealth Gold Medallion

In 2004 the program was recognized with the National Ron Wiebe Restorative Justice Award, as well as the International Royal Commonwealth Gold Medallion for Outstanding Youth Program.

Thurier was one of 20 program workers to receive a medal from the Lieutenant Governor, said Cherrington. 

Thurier joined the program while living on the streets and dealing with her own problems, said Cherrington. 

"She had run-ins with the police ... and the education system," he said. "One of her big battles was trying to get to a regular school because she didn't have any fixed address."

She volunteered with YRAP as it was getting off the ground and used her experience to fight for others, Cherrington said.

'Passionate about youth rights'

"She was very outspoken, she was very passionate about youth rights," he said.

"She'd phone these kids' social worker and try to advocate they get bus passes; she'd argue with the schools to try to get the kids into schools."

In the early days of the project, there was no office to store the confidential files containing the youths' records and private information, said Cherrington.

Thurier, who was homeless at the time, found an innovative way to keep the kid's records private.

"She took these confidential files and locked them up at the bus depot," said Cherrington.

Youth violence and gangs were her particular concerns, said Cherrington, so her death strikes him as especially senseless.

"I find it tragically ironic that the person that's accused of killing her was the exact type of person she was helping when she was involved in YRAP."

Cherrington remembers Thurier as a good person which makes watching the security video of her death disturbing.

"It's a very cold ending to a warm human being," he said.