Nfld. & Labrador

'They've gone through enough,' friends say of Loretta Saunders's family

There's a sense of relief among people in Labrador who knew Loretta Saunders — relief that her family won't be dealing with a lengthy trial after her killers confessed earlier this week.

Loretta Saunders case: Community can start to heal

7 years ago
Duration 1:59
Friends of Loretta Saunders say the community can start the healing process, since her killers have plead guilty

There's a sense of relief among people in Labrador who knew Loretta Saunders — relief that her family won't be dealing with a lengthy trial after her killers confessed earlier this week.

Blake Leggette, 26, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and Victoria Henneberry, 29, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in a Halifax courtroom Wednesday afternoon.
Bernice Earle says she's relieved the family of Loretta Saunders won't have to go through a painful trial process, after two people confessed to murdering the Inuk university student last year. (CBC)

Bernice Earle works at the Mokami Status of Women Council in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and last saw Saunders on New Year's Eve when they rang in 2014 together.

They spent the night talking about growing up in the Labrador community and their plans for the future.

"None of us had really good lives growing up and then, with me working with Mokami Status of Women and she was working towards what she wanted to do. It all came down to helping women," said Earle.

"She wanted to help people and that's what she was working towards."

Coping with the loss

Earle said she was relieved when she found out Leggett and Henneberry pleaded guilty, meaning there won't be a long and drawn-out trial process for Saunders's family to contend with.

"Her family shouldn't have to hear all that kind of stuff. They've gone through enough."

Meanwhile, Sandy Kershaw, also with the women's council, said the impact of Saunders's death has been felt throughout the community, and is something they will still be coping with for some time.
Sandy Kershaw says the community of Happy Valley-Goose Bay can now work toward closure and mourning the loss of Loretta Saunders, but it won't be easy. (CBC)

"We mourn the loss from an individual perspective, but also as a community," said Kershaw.

"The idea that we're safe isn't necessarily true and that's a frightening thing to come to terms with."

For Earle, coming to terms with the death of her friend means carrying on with her work.

"No matter what, you still fight for what you believe in and that's what she was doing, she was fighting for what she thought was right and what she believed in," said Earle.

"Same with me. That's why I'm still here, and I'll continue to stay here. This is where I'm supposed to be."

With files from Bailey White

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