(The spirit chair at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Photo: Kathleen Martens)
When a murderous stalker killed her parents he took not only her family but her heritage, Falon Farinacci told the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women in Winnipeg Wednesday.
Farinacci was nine-years-old when Andre Ducharme fatally shot Sherry and Maurice Paul in the tight-knit Metis community of Saint Eustache, Man., in 1993.
Ducharme was a childhood friend of her father’s who became obsessed with her mother, Farinacci told chief Commissioner Marion Buller.
“He was the town bully who went to school with my dad, and an alcoholic,” she said.
The double murder shattered her life and that of her two brothers – one of whom died later in life by suicide.
Farinacci said she brings her children back to Manitoba – the ancestral home of the Metis in Canada – to visit but it’s not the same.
“Something about this pulled me here,” she said. “I hope that me coming and speaking for change means their passing will have meaning. And that’s what I want.”
Farinacci has since married and had three children. But she remembers her father being actively involved with the Manitoba Metis Federation.
“My dad was a very, very, very proud Metism,” Farinacci said.
She said her parents didn’t reveal the problems they were having with Ducharme, whom she said they had a restraining order against.
But Maurice did confide in his neighbour and friend, Ken Bowden.
“He said if anything happens take care of my kids. I did, as much as I could,” Bowden testified.
“The RCMP were very shitty and lazy,” added Bowden, who was critical of how long it took Mounties to deal with the volatile situation that ended in two killings.
Ducharme eventually took his own life after shooting Maurice and Sherry Paul in their home with a rifle he’d stolen from his uncle, while their three young children were inside.
Her older brother had escaped and run to the Bowdens to call police at midnight, Farinacci said.
“The police officer decided to go back to bed. We continued to call for help. No one came.”
At 8:30 in the morning, she said her grandfather burst in first followed by police.
An inquest into the case helped strengthen Canada’s stalking laws but Farinacci said the crime is still not taken seriously enough.
“He was released (from custody on an uttering threats charge) and ordered to stay away. He was released the same day that he killed them,” she said.
She said not enough is done, especially for women, noting she herself lives with a fear of death as a result and that it needs to be taken more seriously.
Because the impact of the crime still haunts her, Farinacci called for the inquiry to recommend victim services for families – whenever they need them – be it one or 20 years later.
She also wonders sometimes whether the lack of timely police response was because the family was Metis.
Farinacci was one of 836 families the inquiry says have registered to speak to date – 120 are from Manitoba alone.
“Make the changes,” Farinacci told Buller. “No memorial. That’s not going to do anything.”
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