Vigil held for Donovan

Elder Dennis Whitford drums at the vigil in Peace River Oct. 8.

. . .while her alleged murderer is out on bail

Susan Thompson
South Peace News

One year later, Jennifer Donovan’s alleged murderer is facing charges, but those who knew her feel no closer to justice.

Friends and family gathered to mark the somber anniversary of Victorine “Jennifer” Donovan’s death and support each other as they continue to grieve. A candlelight vigil was held at the donated memorial bench that marks where her lifeless body was found on Oct. 8, 2019.

Donovan is survived by her three children.

“It’s been a year now and the pain hasn’t subsided,” says Carmen Lambert.

“She mattered and she is needed and missed every second of every day!”

Some friends and family are wearing red T-shirts that say “Justice for Jenn”.

Donovan, who herself participated in past Sisters in Spirit vigils and walks for missing and murdered indigenous women, was also remembered as part of this year’s Peace River Sisters in Spirit event Oct. 4.

Mathew Blachford has been charged with her murder but is currently out of custody on $50,000 bail. He returns to court next March.

Blachford’s father, Bob, former operations manager at Shell Peace River, spoke on his behalf at the bail hearing. Donovan’s friends and family say while Blachford was characterized as a former Air Cadet and good citizen, no one was asked to speak on Donovan’s behalf.

“Matt being out on bail is a slap in the face to her loved ones to say the least,” Lambert says.

Lambert says she can only hope and pray Blachford gets the maximum penalty.

Donovan’s friend Judy McCracken says, “Losing Jenn that way has been a blow to a great many people in this town, and the way the justice system worked in his bail hearing made this experience more tragic.”

She had ever harsher words.

“It showed me that a mother’s life meant nothing compared to an ‘upstanding’ rich white family. The defence council ran Jenn into the ground, almost made it seem like she was asking to be murdered,” McCracken says.

“The hardest part to swallow is that her babies are struggling with no longer having a mother while [Blachford] walks free with almost no consequence.”

Kevin Mercredi, father of Donovan’s children, says, “I don’t know how to feel quite honestly, given that [Blachford] is out on bail even with DNA evidence.”

A community impact statement is being prepared to present to the court before Blachford’s trial to show how Donovan’s loss has affected people.

“I’m hoping it will help show the Crown that this town will not accept anything but justice for Jenn,” Mercredi says.

“Her life mattered. Her murder affected this community.”

According to the Government of Alberta’s website, a judge will consider an impact statement if the accused is found guilty and when sentencing the offender[s].

In-person submissions for the community impact statement will be accepted at the Emerald Room on Oct. 17 at Peace Valley Inns from 1-3 p.m. COVID-19 safety guidelines will be followed. Submissions can also be e-mailed tonwaic@outlook.com.

The community impact statement will be delivered to the court in a sealed envelope. Names will not be shared.

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