BodyRemember Krystal, remember them all
This March 1, I joined with many people in the Yukon and elsewhere, as we recalled where we were when we heard that a friend, a colleague, an irrepressible free spirit, was murdered in her own home 20 years ago.
Krystal Senyk’s murder remains unsolved. I worked with Krystal. Along with other colleagues and friends, we shared her love of music and nature and of the old house that she was nurturing back to life near Crag Lake. My children looked up to her as an adult friend who knew how to connect with children, who gave them their first pets, sister kittens.
Krystal shared with me her growing fear that she was in an unsafe situation. She took all the precautions suggested to her, contacting the RCMP in Carcross and Whitehorse, leaving town when the couple split so as to avoid being the target of his anger, seeking support and advice from transition house staff.
And still, she was shot dead. Shot when she decided to return to her own home. Twenty years on, I wonder if we have learned anything from the countless Krystals who have died in this country as a result of domestic disputes gone terribly awry. Died because the police could not or would not take seriously the level of threat or danger that a woman can face in the complex web that domestic violence weaves.
And I wonder, as I did the day I had to tell my daughters that Krystal was dead, that she had been killed because she was trying to help her friend, how I would answer them today if they asked, as they did that day: “Mommy, does that mean if I help a friend that I might get killed?”
In the 20 years since Krystal’s murder, many more women have died. There have been many studies, many recommendations. I want to hope that we have learned something from each of these tragedies. If, as community members, we all – especially our police – took these simple steps: listen and believe, then take action, perhaps we might avoid having to answer why when the next tragedy hits our community.