Montreal·Point of View

This is how I ensure my daughter's legacy lives on

Kelly-Anne Drummond was 24 when she was murdered by her boyfriend. Doreen Haddad, her mother, is dedicated to keeping her memory alive.

Kelly-Anne Drummond was 24 when she was murdered by her boyfriend. Here, her mother pays tribute to her

Kelly-Anne Drummond, in the white shirt, and Doreen Haddad, in the red shirt, at a gathering with close family friends. Kelly-Anne died 16 years ago. (Submitted by Doreen Haddad)

Doreen Haddad is happily retired and spends her time sharing her story and that of her daughter, Kelly-Anne Drummond, who was murdered by her boyfriend 16 years ago this month. Haddad, who writes a blog about Kelly-Anne, is a driving force in the effort to keep her daughter's legacy alive.

These days, I often daydream about what my daughter Kelly-Anne would be doing during this time of COVID-19. Would she have been working in journalism, as she hoped to after studying communications at Concordia University? Would she still be here in Canada, or somewhere else in the world? Would she have volunteered to be a frontline worker, helping those stricken with the virus?

I can tell you for sure, she would have been helping someone out. That was Kelly-Anne. It was nothing for her to pick up a shovel and head out to a neighbour's home to dig them out after a snow storm. Kelly-Anne loved her community. I can remember her sitting for hours at an elderly neighbour's home, teaching her how to email her grandchildren.

Kelly-Anne grew up on the West Island of Montreal. At a young age, she showed her talent in sports. She was involved in synchronized swimming, water polo, competitive lifeguarding and rugby. Her priorities were family, sports and her studies. She loved Celtic music, Ashley MacIsaac and Bon Jovi.

Sixteen years ago, our lives changed forever. Our family and the community lost Kelly-Anne. She was murdered by her boyfriend. I can remember her doctor saying to me, "Doreen, your life will forever change."

I stood there in fear, numbed. How was I going to live my life without Kelly-Anne? She was my first born. She was the big sister, by exactly 11 months, to Kim. She was my swim coach. She was my everything.

I had a choice. I could either die with my daughter, or live. I thought I should do what Kelly-Anne would expect me to do. To live, to work toward building awareness about domestic abuse, to work toward creating change within the justice system, and to build a legacy so that we remember not only how Kelly-Anne died, but how she lived. I refuse to be called a secondary victim of homicide. I am a survivor of the homicide that took my daughter's life.

Kelly-Anne smiles for a picture while celebrating her 24th birthday. (Submitted by Doreen Haddad)

Today, my life is neither better nor worse. I decided that the best way to remember Kelly-Anne was to talk openly about her death and embrace each day with joy and strength. Kelly-Anne's death has given me the courage to face job losses and breast cancer. I have already faced the worst, so nothing else in my life will be as bad.

Kelly-Anne played for the Stingers during her time at Concordia. I remember a time on the field where she was in a scrum and somehow hit an opposing team player to the ground. The girl seemed winded. Kelly-Anne ran over and asked her if she was OK. Typical Kelly-Anne, always caring about others.

Kelly-Anne's legacy continues in the rugby community. Since 2005, the Concordia and McGill women's rugby teams have faced off in the Kelly-Anne Drummond Cup. Donations at the door have always been given to Women Aware, an non-profit organization established by and for women who are victims of gender-based violence.

Last year, in collaboration with Concordia University, I created the Kelly-Anne Drummond scholarship. This scholarship is awarded yearly to a woman who is studying at Concordia and plays on the Stingers women's rugby team.

Kelly-Anne, centre, graduated from Concordia with a Bachelor of Arts in communications in 2002. (Concordia)

Sixteen years after Kelly-Anne's death, not much has changed in Canada. Women and children are still being murdered by their partners. Too many survivors of domestic abuse suffer in silence within the confines of four walls. My prayers for those suffering though domestic abuse is that they will see that there is help in our community and that they will find the strength to leave.

My story is Kelly-Anne's story. I am her voice. Today, I strive to be that voice in different capacities. I have been fortunate to share our story with high school, CEGEP and university students, and I have had the humbling experience of speaking to law students at McGill about my experience in court.

I truly believe we need to understand and respect each other. The families of those murdered not only want to see justice served for these heinous crimes, but to also be understood and respected.

I hope our story will build awareness among those who are suffering in silence, and those who will cross paths with other Kelly-Annes and Doreens within the federal justice system.

Our family continues to grow. We are blessed with two grandchildren. Our granddaughter, now seven years old, is a true clone of Kelly-Anne. It is like God took the soul of Kelly-Anne and put it in Kim's daughter. When we are together, it is like I am with Kelly-Anne at that age.

Our grandson is two and a half and full of smiles and love for his family. Kelly-Anne would be so proud of them.

We will never forget Kelly-Anne. Memory eternal, my love.

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Doreen Haddad is happily retired and spends her time sharing her story and that of her daughter, Kelly-Anne Drummond, who was murdered by her boyfriend in 2004. Haddad, who writes a blog about Kelly-Anne, is a driving force in keeping her daughter's legacy alive.