Morinville to build 'Jessie’s Home', first shelter in town
Eight years ago, Jessica Martel had nowhere to go to escape her abusive relationship.
On April 29, 2009, her common-law husband murdered her in front of their three children in their Morinville home. James Urbaniak is serving a life sentence with no change of parole for another three years.
Jessica’s mother, Lynne Rosychuk created the Jessica Martel Memorial Foundation (JMMF) to assist those impacted by domestic violence, five years ago.
Their goal from day one has been to open a safe house in Morinville to host women and children escaping violence.
“Us being able to do this in memory of my daughter makes some sense out of the horrible things that happened to her,” Rosychuk, who is also the president of the foundation, told CTV News.
According to the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters, shelters across the province welcomed 5,397 women in 2016, but turned away8,384.
“There are potentially not enough shelters available, so especially in the metropolitan areas like Calgary and Edmonton,” said Kris Porlier, the Jessica Martel Memorial Foundation Fund Development and Public Relations director. “We know that that’s where the majority of people end up being turned away.”
Porlier said since the start of 2017, there has been 273 reported cases of domestic violence in Sturgeon County.
“So we do know that it is something that is occurring and we’re just really trying to help out,” he said.
On Saturday night, the foundation received a cheque worth $142,873.91 in memory of Barbara Horricks. The shelter’s outdoor garden will be named in memory of Horricks.
The JMFF is in the process of applying for a permit to build a safe house on land donated by the Town of Morinville.
The application will be presented to Morinville early 2018, and if approved, construction will begin the summer.
Rosychuk thinks Martel would have been touched and honoured by the community’s efforts to build a safe haven for other women who live in difficult situations, like her daughter once did.
“I feel Jessica here right beside me with a huge smile on her face and just so proud of what this community has been able to accomplish,” Rosychuk said.
With files from Angela Jung