‘You rekindle a sense of confidence in humanity’
Émilie Maheu will never be forgotten if people emulate her and try to bring joy to others.
That was one of the many emotional messages shared at last Wednesday’s candlelight vigil in memory of the 26-year-old Green Valley woman whose body was found in a field near Lancaster October 13.
Although Ms. Maheu had begun working at the Centre chiropratique Alexandria Chiropractic Centre in July, she had already made an impression on staff.
“She was a person who really cared, not only for her daughter, but for others,” massage therapist Richard Quesnel told the approximately 200 people assembled at The Grotto in Alexandria. “She’s real,” he said, choking back tears. “She brightened your day just by her smile.”
Mr. Quesnel urged residents to perpetuate her memory by performing gestures to brighten the lives of others.
The Maheu family members have been “overwhelmed” by the community response, said Dr. Suzanne Filion, who organized the vigil along with Natalie St-Denis.
“My girl would be so happy to see everything that is being done for her. She was such a good person. Émilie was so close to her beautiful daughter Élizabeth. Thank you so much to the community for supporting us like this,” her father, Claude Maheu, said in a written statement.
Brandon Smeltzer, Ms. Maheu’s former parter, who is also the father of their 22-monthold daughter, has been charged with first-degree murder. When the Bayside, Nova Scotia man appeared in Cornwall court October 19, he declared, “I did the crime; I will do the time.”
Dr. Filion described Ms. Maheu as a “young woman who was always smiling, helping, and wanting to learn and grow.”
“A warm heart,” called out a person from the crowd.
The murder has rocked the area, which has rarely experienced such a violent crime.
The psychologist observed: “We could clearly feel the shock in the community in the past week. It’s visceral. Uniting tonight is a concrete gesture that helps us all to slowly digest the reality of this situation. Empathy and compassion are overflowing for the family, friends and col- leagues. They are not alone!”
She added the event “was also an opportunity to support her family, friends and work colleagues, and to unite a community that is shaken but strong, who still strives to understand the sad reality of such a tragedy.”
Natalie St-Denis declared that due to a “senseless act of violence, Émilie’s mother is without a daughter, and Émilie’s own daughter is without a mother.”
Ms. Maheu’s former boss, Dr. Raynald Cardinal, said: “This tragedy of Émilie, to her daughter, family, babysitter, friends, and to all of us who had the chance to be with Émilie, to our community here and across our country, we have been shaken deeply. Your gestures of love and solidarity over the past days, this evening at this vigil and into the days, weeks, months that follow resonate throughout and help all us rekindle a sense of confidence in humanity.”
Dr. Filion stressed that the crime underscored the need for more services to better deal with domestic violence.
Women still have difficulty getting out of dangerous situations, she said, because assistance is not centralized.
“We need to talk about it. We need to do something about it and talk about and see how we can make it so that our society is safer.”
Ms. Maheu’s cousin, Brianna Théorêt, recited a funeral poem: “If tears could build a stairway and memories were a lane, we would walk right up to heaven and bring you back again...”
The vigil ended with Amazing Grace, played by Rachel and Gabrielle Campbell.
Over 25 businesses and about ten community organizations contributed to the vigil. More coverage inside.
RIP ÉMILIE: About 200 people attended a candlelight vigil in memory of murder victim Émilie Maheu Wednesday at The Grotto in Alexandria.