Friends and family of homicide victim Amy Watts wept together Wednesday night, as they gathered for a candlelight vigil at the Nanaimo ravine where her body was found on June 3.
“Amy hurt so deeply in those last few minutes and she should never have hurt for the love that she gave,” said the victim’s mother Janice Coady.
“She wanted to live. She didn’t want to die,” said the victim’s friend Dawn MacKinnon-Birchard. “She wanted to live and just for someone to do that to her, it’s just horrifying,”
Photos of the 27-year-old in happier times showed the girl next door, who made the Dean’s List at Vancouver Island University and helped many addicts get off the streets as an outreach worker.
Her own mental illness and drug addiction spiralled far enough, however, that she was being trafficked for prostitution on Nanaimo’s streets despite repeated attempts to get out, according to her mother.
“Nobody deserves a life of brutality and rape and human trafficking and abuse when they were not choosing it at that stage of their life,” said Coady.
Nanaimo outreach worker Aimee Chalifoux was a close friend of Watts and is pleading for a safe house to be opened in Nanaimo for women like Watts, who right now have nothing designed to escape their specific and extremely dangerous lifestyles.
“We’re not prepared for that. For when they want out or they just need to take a break, they’re tired, they’re scared,” said Outreach Worker Aimee Chalifoux. “There’s somewhere for the outreach workers to bring them.”
“Amy’s life cannot be in vain. I think it needs to be highlighted,” said Gord Fuller of the Nanaimo 7-10 Club. “The potential, what she went through.”
“I will continue that fight for my daughter to ensure that I can help every other woman that is out there on the streets right now,” said Coady.
Janice Coady returned to PEI with her daughter’s body on Thursday but said she planned to return to Nanaimo as many times as it takes to make a change so her family’s tragedy isn’t repeated again.