Take a sad song and make it better

Katy Hutchison's husband, Bob, was beaten to death. It was New Year's Eve 1997 in their safe, residential community of Squamish, B.C. She tells his story to school audiences across North America.

Katy Hutchison’s husband, Bob, was beaten to death.

It was New Year’s Eve 1997 in their safe, residential community of Squamish, B.C.

She tells his story to school audiences across North America – more than 500 and counting.

She tells how she watched him walk down their driveway to their neighbour’s place. The father was away and the son was having a party. Bob Hutchison was going to shut it down.

She tells how she called out to him as he walked on the snow, urging him to “hurry back.”

She tells how he got to the top of the neighbour’s steps where he was confronted by a big, angry, 220-pound teenager.

She tells how they didn’t really say anything to each other before the teenager threw a punch, knocking Bob out.

She tells how a second, smaller teenager then joined in, kicking Bob’s head four times, in a way he later described as the way you’d kick a soccer ball.

She tells how none of the 150 kids at the party called 911 as the artery that carried blood to Bob’s brain was severed, causing a massive brain hemorrhage.

He died on their neighbour’s bedroom floor.

It took nearly five years and an undercover RCMP investigation for Hutchison to find out these details.

That was long after the horrible New Year’s Day when she had to tell her four-year-old twins their father was dead. Long after she’d moved her family out of the community. And long after she’d had to make up her own mind about how to deal with her anger.

All her husband’s killer remembered was being drunk and angry, she later discovered as she sat across from him in a prison meeting room, handing the sobbing teenager balls of Kleenex.

Hutchison could have been angry too, she said.

But she chose not to be.

“Anger is a short-term emotion that’s important, but that has a short life span,” she said. “If people don’t learn to deal with their anger, it consumes people and will manifest in some kind of anti-social behaviour … substance issues, violence, self-harm, gambling issues, depression, the list goes on.

“It’s when we do not find a healthy outlet for our anger, a place to release it, that’s when it becomes difficult – when we stuff it down and hold onto it. It’s an emotion that’s meant to move through us, not consume us.

“My children lost their father that night, I didn’t want them to lose me. It would have been so easy for me to have adopted the position of vengeance and hatred, but what kind of parent would I have been to my children?

“I wanted to be the best mom possible and the only way I knew how to do that was by opening my heart up really, really wide and being available to my children, and that also meant giving up the hope for a better past and forgiving (the teen that killed her husband).

“It’s about choosing and realizing that in every situation, while we can’t chose what happens to us, we can always, always choose how we’re going to respond.”

Since 2003, Hutchison has been touring schools across Canada and the United States to tell what she calls the “story of Bob.” She sees herself starting the discussion about things kids really need to talk openly about like mob-mentality and peer pressure, drinking and drug-use, forgiveness, moving past trauma and dealing with their anger.

Travelling from school to school and reminding herself of her dead husband and the brutal way he was killed is tiring, she admits, but it’s worth it.

“It’s important. I believe that every time I tell the story, I plant a seed in some young brain that may help make a better decision. So that’s what keeps me coming back.”

Response to her presentation has ranged from teens telling her about how it helped them make a better decision that Friday night or how, years later, the “story of Bob” came up in their minds and helped them see life through a different lens.

“I feel really privileged to have been able to find a way to talk to youth,” she said “There’s an enormous power to personal story and I’ve learned a lot. I just think young people have such potential and they are the harbours of hope in our communities. And it’s so important for this to be a community dialogue.”

Hutchison will tell her story to Yukoners next week.

She’ll speak at the St. Elias Community School in Haines Junction on Monday and the Porter Creek Secondary School on Tuesday.

On Wednesday she’ll be at Yukon College at noon and at F.H. Collins Secondary at 2 p.m. In the evening she’ll give a public presentation at 7 p.m. She will also speak at Vanier Catholic Secondary on Thursday morning.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speak at a COVID-19 update press conference in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. On Nov. 24, Silver and Hanley announced masks will be mandatory in public places as of Dec. 1, and encouraged Yukoners to begin wearing masks immediately. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Masks mandatory in public places starting on Dec. 1

“The safe six has just got a plus one,” Silver said.

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 30. Hanley announced three more COVID-19 cases in a release on Nov. 21. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three more COVID-19 cases, new exposure notice announced

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, announced three… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: COVID-19 strikes another blow at high-school students

They don’t show up very often in COVID-19 case statistics, but they… Continue reading

The Cornerstone housing project under construction at the end of Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. Community Services Minister John Streicker said he will consult with the Yukon Contractors Association after concerns were raised in the legislature about COVID-19 isolation procedures for Outside workers at the site. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Concerns raised about alternate self-isolation plans for construction

Minister Streicker said going forward, official safety plans should be shared across a worksite

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Megan Waterman, director of the Lastraw Ranch, is using remediated placer mine land in the Dawson area to raise local meat in a new initiative undertaken with the Yukon government’s agriculture branch. (Submitted)
Dawson-area farm using placer miner partnership to raise pigs on leased land

“Who in their right mind is going to do agriculture at a mining claim? But this made sense.”

Riverdale residents can learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s plan to FireSmart a total of 24 hectares in the area of Chadburn Lake Road and south of the Hidden Lakes trail at a meeting on Nov. 26. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Meeting will focus on FireSmart plans

Riverdale residents will learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s FireSmarting… Continue reading

The City of Whitehorse is planning to borrow $10 million to help pay for the construction of the operations building (pictured), a move that has one concillor questioning why they don’t just use reserve funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Councillor questions borrowing plan

City of Whitehorse would borrow $10 million for operations building

Most Read