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Grace Sparkes House announces new bursary to support families of missing or murdered women

Cortney Lake
Cortney Lake will be remembered during the Remembering Her event taking place at the Marystown Hotel and Convention Centre on Friday, Dec. 1. The event will be hosted by the Grace Sparkes House.

Funding to help those who lost a female family member to domestic violence

MARYSTOWN, NL – A bursary to provide financial support to families of women who are missing or have been murdered due to intimate partner violence has been established on the Burin Peninsula.

Grace Sparkes House, a shelter for women on the Burin Peninsula who are experiencing violence or abuse, announced the “Remembering Her Event Bursary” last week.

Lisa Slaney, Grace Sparkes House executive director, said the bursary is a response to people reaching out to members of the Grace Sparkes House board of directors wondering what they could do to help the families of missing or murdered women.

 “I guess people were just trying to offer support and (didn’t) really know how,” said Slaney.

Conversations first started with the idea of holding a community gathering in honour of Cortney Lake, a St. John’s woman who is missing and presumed murdered.

“We started having initial conversations with the (Lake) family and then unfortunately, another lady (Ryanna Grywacheski) was killed during that time in Marystown.”

Slaney said following that tragedy, the call from the community to do something increased.

“The discussion then became how could we do something to help.”

Slaney said families who have experienced such loss will be able to apply to the organization for the bursary, and applications will have to meet set criteria.

“The funds would go towards search efforts, maybe setting up some type of a trust fund for a child or children of the deceased woman, or a monument … a headstone or some type of marker in the community to honour her memory or to help with funeral costs,” she said.      

This year the family of Cortney Lake has been selected to receive the bursary.

“They made application to the organization and they have been selected this year as the family that will receive any monies that are donated,” said Slaney. “They will go directly to the family to continue with their search efforts or whatever the need be.”

Slaney said they also reached out to the family of Ryanna Grywacheski, “we spoke and (they) are honoured to have us remember her at the event.”

Along with the bursary, Grace Sparkes House will host a “Remembering Her” dinner and vigil at the Marystown Hotel and Convention Centre on Dec. 1.

The family of Cortney Lake will attend the event.

“Hopefully, surrounded by friends and family of their home town communities, they will be able to get through another day, and honour her memory in a very respectful, dignified way,” said Slaney.

The event will close out the 16 days of activism that started on Nov. 25 with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and concluding Dec. 6 with National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

*** This story has been edited since the time of posting the family of Ryanna Grywacheski have contacted the Grace Sparkes House with wishes that Ryanna be remembered at the Dec. 1st event.

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