Like so many homicide victims in Canada, Christine Denham intimately knew the man who is charged in her death seven months ago at a house on Victor Street.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Canada and this year, local victim services worker Nancy Drewery brought a project to Chilliwack that will help honour and remember Denham and others killed at the hands of partners.
The Silent Witness Exhibit started in New Brunswick and involves the creation of a display of life-sized cutouts painted red to represent women/men/children/anyone who has been victims of domestic violence.
Drewery decided in late July to bring the project to Chilliwack for October and the Purple Light Nights event on Oct. 1.
“I can’t believe how fast it came together,” Drewery said.
She put out the word to Ford Mountain Correctional Centre and assistant deputy warden Steve Unger got on board.
“The idea of having them done by inmates was really important to us,” Drewery said. “A lot of the inmates have been abused themselves.”
Unger said the enthusiasm at the institution was high, with five inmates being chosen out of 20 who volunteered to work on the silhouettes.
“The best part of it was when they found out who it was for,” Unger said. “They were super keen to do it because it was giving back to their community. Everyone has moms and aunts and daughters.”
Silhouettes of women, children, one pregnant, one in a wheelchair, were sent to the institution. A number of Chilliwack companies stepped up to donate materials: Canex Building Supplies donated the plywood, Sherwin-Williams Paint Store the paint and primer, and Rona all the hardware, brushes and rollers.
The inmates created 14 in all, but one in particular will be special as a plaque was made to honour Denham who was killed in an alleged domestic violence incident on Feb. 26, 2019. The plaque was donated by Garth and Robynne Healey of Riverstone Quarter Horses.
Drewery confirmed that some of Denham’s family, including her mother, will be in attendance at the Chilliwack RCMP detachment on Oct. 1 for the Purple Light Nights tree-lighting ceremony at the Chilliwack RCMP detachment at 45924 Airport Rd.
The ceremony is an annual event to honour those who have been killed in domestic violence incidents, and this year the Silent Witness Exhibit will add to the ceremony.
“The idea is to document the people who have died,” Drewery said. “It doesn’t matter who you are, men, women and children. It affects everyone.”
Inmates at Ford Mountain also contributed silhouettes for the Hope Purple Light Nights event.
As for Denham’s alleged killer, Shane Travis Hughes, his case is still going through the court system. He is next due in court, ironically, on Oct. 1.