Christmas is meant to be spent with family and friends, but this holiday season there is a huge void for those close to Lynn Kalmring.
“She was all about Christmas, so it’s going to be hard this year,” said Kalmring’s daughter Brandy Cummings. “It was probably the time of year she was the happiest. Christmas was everything to her along with her grandchildren.”
Kalmring, a 55-year-old nurse, was killed in Penticton in August. Her common-law partner, Keith Wiens, has been charged with her murder and released on bail while he awaits trial.
Cummings said her mom would get so excited about Christmas, she would begin shopping for gifts in the summer. She suspects there could be presents for the grandchildren in the home she once shared with Wiens, or at their vacation home in Arizona. It’s something Cummings may never know, as Wiens is living in the couple’s Penticton home in the gated community of Sandbridge while on bail — the same place RCMP found Kalmring’s body.
“I’m not a big Christmas person so we always did it for her. It was a big deal for her and I always said every year, “Do not buy us anything.” And when we would go, there would be this huge pile of presents. She loved it, it was her favourite time of the year. She would decorate the house and it would be gorgeous. The table would be immaculate, like royalty was coming,” said Cummings.
Kalmring left behind four sisters, two children and three grandchildren. One of the hardest things for Cummings has been dealing with questions from her own daughter, Kalmring’s granddaughter.
“She misses her Nana, and that is what is killing me most,” said Cummings. “I have been trying to avoid Christmas like the plague, but I have to do it for my daughter. She talks about my mom more and more and it is one of the hardest things I have ever had to deal with.”
Cummings and the rest of Kalmring’s family have been pushing for change to the Canadian justice system. They have started a petition calling for changes to the bail system. Wiens, an ex-RCMP officer, was let out on $50,000 bail in August under the care of his brother. He is not to possess or consume alcohol or drugs amongst other conditions.
“My niece is terrified to go out in town and feels like a prisoner because she is afraid she might run into him,” said Kalmring’s sister, Donna Irwin, who lives in the Lower Mainland. “It is just very hard, but we are keeping up the fight and that is the only thing that really keeps me going right now is this fight for my sister and that her death is not going to be in vain. If we can help one woman or family from going through what we are going through then that is our goal.”
Irwin said she carries the petition with her everywhere and has had many people reaching out to the family who are in similar situations.
“Like one woman said, Lynn should not have died, and at the very least, her alleged offender should not enjoy the freedom of living in their home. What an insult to her memory,” said Irwin.
They have two separate petitions they want to present to the House of Commons. The first advocates for stricter bail requirements for violent crimes and the second proposes amendments to the National Victims Bill of Rights, in order to give victims and family members a stronger voice. The goal is to reach 100,000 signatures.
“I think the public is ready for a change in the justice system. We should have just as many rights as those being charged with crimes do. Right now I’m just trying to have as much faith as I can in the justice system and in the RCMP,” said Irwin.
More information about Lynn’s Law and how to sign the petition can be found at justiceforlynn.webs.com. Questions or comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.