Following the murder of a Calgary woman last week by her estranged husband, Crystal Boys, the President, Executive Director, and Founder of Airdrie's Protecting Our Women with Emergency Resources (Airdrie P.O.W.E.R.) is speaking out on the tragedy.
"It's heartbreaking and it should not have happened; it was completely avoidable. That makes the tragedy even more tragic," Boys said. "This is something, unfortunately, that we see on a very regular basis."
The incident occurred last week in front of a Calgary school in the City's Southwest. When police responded to the scene, they found a woman suffering from stab wounds.
"Despite the efforts of officers on scene who performed life-saving measures, the woman was declared deceased in what is believed to be a targeted incident. Just before noon, police located the suspect deceased nearby," Calgary Police said.
Initially, police would not confirm the relationship between the victim and the assailant, though it was later made public that the man who killed his wife had been charged with domestic violence in July 2023, and although he was released on bail with conditions, including a no-contact order, he was later charged with violating the no-contact order in September and then in November of last year.
Boys said that the tragedy underscores what she believes are major schisms in the justice and family court system.
"No amount of safety planning will stop someone who has no respect for authority and the law," Boys said. "Where I see the problem is why are these men being left out [in the world] after breaking a no-contact order the first time. These people have broken the law and have been charged and a judge has given a no-contact order or a restraining order or a parenting order because they see the danger these women are in."
According to Boys, over the past three years, her organization has helped 300 women who are in domestically violent or abusive relationship environments. Currently, Airdrie does not have a 24-hour emergency shelter for those who are in the midst of domestic violence.
"Crisis shelters are needed, long-term housing is needed, long-term support is needed; understanding the reality of what's happening in these women's lives. The reality is they are unsafe, and they are expected to start their life over and carry the burden of everything that goes along with that, while these men get to abuse them and get a slap on the wrist and [then] get told, 'please don't go back again.'"
Boys observed that there is also another worrying trend in Airdrie - the level of violence in abusive relationships is escalating.
"Each one of those instances is so violent and so volatile, yet you would have no idea and it's from women that have jobs and husbands...everything looks normal on the outside, it's rampant here, and the violence is getting worse."
Previous RCMP statistics that were presented to Airdrie's Municipal Policing Advisory Board in October 2023 noted a slight decrease in domestic violence cases between April to June 2023. More recent statistics of domestic violence cases were not made available.
However, Boys underlined that it may be a case of fewer people reporting the crimes, rather than the offences happening less often altogether.
"[Our clients] do not want to involve the police and not because the police are bad, but because the police's hands are tied as well. They can only do so much. All the women that we see, are desperately trying to get out safely and without having to go through the system, because the system is awful."
When asked what needs to be done and done better, Boys said that community support goes a long way.
"The people care, the people have made it possible for Airdrie P.O.W.E.R. to run since its inception in 2018. Airdrie's residents - they care, they acknowledge the problem, they step up, they come to events, they donate," she said. "They're the only reason why we've been able to stay open."
Calgary Police have since said that they would like to see a provincial committee, which focuses on family violence cases, to review the Calgary murder.
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