Brandy Cummings is still haunted over her mother’s death and she is hoping Penticton stands up with her to end violence against women.
Lynn Kalmring was allegedly killed by common-law partner and former RCMP officer Keith Wiens in their Penticton home in August. On Tuesday night, Cummings will join the Penticton and Area Women’s Centre and Okanagan College Students’ Union at a vigil they are hosting for the national day of remembrance and action on violence against women at the Okanagan College Penticton campus.
The tragic loss of Kalmring ignited the family to push for changes to the criminal system. Wiens was let out on bail to live in Penticton in the home he shared with Kalmring. The stress on Cummings has been unbearable.
“I don’t know if I am coming or going these days. I haven’t really been working a lot. I’m trying to sort my brain out,” she said.
Her family is asking people to sign a petition to change Canadian law and the national victims bill of rights. Cummings will be at Tuesday’s vigil with it.
As part of the national day of remembrance and action, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Okanagan College Penticton campus, a communal art piece will be on display in the Sunoka building. Angelika Eneas, event facilitator for the PAWC, said community members are asked to contribute to it by putting up a handprint or the name of a loved one.
“I was told that the families of the women from the Montreal massacre asked that we not make the event about those 14 women that were killed and more about remembrance and action on violence against women,” she said. “So we are dedicating the event to them, but not doing the rose laying or the candle-lighting. This year we are partnered with the Golo art gallery, the women’s centre and students’ union to bring art to the college, and people can come and decorate the border area of the piece.”
Eneas said they hope to then display the art at a couple of different locations around the city.
The vigil also includes a panel discussion which takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. in the lecture theatre of the Ashnola building. Eneas said a legal aid advocate at the PAWC, Anna Terbasket with restorative justice at the En’owkin Centre, a professor from the social justice program at the college and members of the RCMP will be speaking.
“They will be touching on the different things that have been going on in the area with violence against women. So what happened in Armstrong, what is going on in Vancouver with aboriginal women, what happened in the summer with the woman almost beaten to death and the woman that was allegedly shot by her common-law husband. We will talk about what is going on, why this is happening and how we can take action as a community,” said Eneas. “A lot of the time the onus is put on the victim over why were they out so late walking or why they were wearing certain clothes. We want to take that off the victim and instead put the question to the community of why is this happening.”
Because of time restrictions, an open mic for the public to ask questions will not be available. Instead, Eneas said they will have a box set up where people can ask questions, write their story or comment on the event. All the responses will be put on the students’ union website, the PAWC website and PAWC Facebook page.
The students’ union has also launched the White Ribbon campaign, running until Dec. 6, to end violence against women. They are asking the public to wear white ribbons as a pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women.
Food donations are being accepted at the vigil to give to the food bank or to other organizations that hand them out to those in need.