‘This has to stop’: Community mourns death of Fort St. James woman

Women hold up signs reading ‘no more stolen sisters’ at a vigil for April Mary Monk at Spirit Square in Fort St. James. (Photo by Michael Bramadat-Willcock)Women hold up signs reading ‘no more stolen sisters’ at a vigil for April Mary Monk at Spirit Square in Fort St. James. (Photo by Michael Bramadat-Willcock)
An RCMP officer places a candle in the snow in honour of April Mary Monk at Spirit Square in Fort St. James. (Photo by Michael Bramadat-Willcock)An RCMP officer places a candle in the snow in honour of April Mary Monk at Spirit Square in Fort St. James. (Photo by Michael Bramadat-Willcock)
Youth gathered to honour April Mary Monk at Spirit Square in Fort St. James. (Photo by Michael Bramadat-Willcock)Youth gathered to honour April Mary Monk at Spirit Square in Fort St. James. (Photo by Michael Bramadat-Willcock)

Warning: This report contains details that can be disturbing to readers

A candlelight vigil was held in Fort St. James for April Mary Monk, a 39-year-old Tl’azt’en Nation woman who died Tuesday (Feb. 8) after being assaulted Monday night.

Her death is being investigated as a murder.

Monk’s cousin Faith Pierre, who organized the celebration of life, stood with family members Raquel and Savanna Lazar.

She said Monk’s death was a shock to the community.

“In the last few years now there have been a lot of deaths with domestic violence or with missing and murdered [Indigenous women] but this was really unexpected. It’s very scary,” Pierre told the Courier.

Monk will be remembered as a loving mother, sister and friend to many.

“She was a really big-hearted woman… She loved to cook and she loved to bake. She could cook for an army,” Pierre said.

“Even if she had her last two dollars and she needed it — if she knew you needed it, she would give it to you.”

Since Monk’s death, Pierre has offered to help other women in need of lifts when they feel threatened or endangered — and she has been taken up on the offer more than once already.

“I want people to know that they are not alone. If they are scared, if they need someone to talk to, or to talk for them, there are people out there.”

Another woman in attendance at the vigil, who the Courier isn’t naming to protect her privacy, said Monk was well known and loved.

“She was one of my good friends. My prayers to her family and everybody who knew her. This has to stop. It has to end. No more stolen sisters. This has to be brought to light. It’s not okay.”

In a Feb. 10 media release, Fort St. James RCMP said they were called to a residence on Feb. 7. When officers arrived they found Monk unresponsive and in medical distress.

Monk’s partner, a 39-year-old resident of Fort St. James was arrested and a homicide investigation is underway. According to court records, suspect Donal James Beynon has been charged with two counts of aggravated assault and one charge of breaching a release order.

Support is available for those affected by intimate partner violence. You can access support in your community by visiting domesticshelters.org/help/bc.

We are experiencing technical difficulties with our commenting platform and hope to be up and running again soon. In the meantime, you can still send us your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter, or submit a letter to the editor.