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‘It’s a problem in our province’: Fort Saskatchewan shooting highlights tragedy of domestic violence

EDMONTON — The subject of domestic violence, one that is often kept behind closed doors, has once again been thrust into the spotlight following the shooting death of a mother in Fort Saskatchewan last week.

Colleen Sillito, a 46-year-old mother of five, was found dead outside a home in the West Park community early Friday morning. Global News has since confirmed Sillito was shot to death by her ex-boyfriend, who then turned the gun on himself.

This is the fourth deadly domestic violence case in the Capital Region since August, and the third in just 10 days.

“Domestic violence cases involving violence is up about seven per cent this year,” said Acting Chief Brian Simpson with the Edmonton Police Service. “I sit on the provincial board for women’s shelters. I’m very attune to this issue. It’s a problem in our province, has been for some time. And it’s something we have to address in totality.”

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READ MORE: Why Canada still has a long way to go in tackling domestic abuse

In August, Nadine Skow, 38, was stabbed to death inside her Edmonton apartment suite. Silva Koshwal was charged with second-degree murder and indignity to a human body in her death. Police said the pair were involved in a common-law relationship which ended about a year ago.

READ MORE: Scene of woman’s death ‘one of the most horrific’ Edmonton police veteran has ever seen

In September, Strathcona County RCMP charged 58-year-old Brian Ralph Beglau with first-degree murder in the death of his wife, 55-year-old Melanie Susan Hunter.

RCMP said the two were married, but had been living separately at the time of her death.

Just three days later, 42-year-old Jennifer Otway was fatally stabbed at her northeast Edmonton home. Her husband, 38-year-old Jason Andrew Otway, has since been charged with second-degree murder and possession of an offensive weapon.

READ MORE: Northeast Edmonton community shaken after man charged with wife’s murder

Wendy Aujla, a PhD candidate with the University of Alberta’s Sociology Department, believes education and awareness are extremely important when it comes to domestic violence.

“I think a lot of people are unaware of what supports or resources are in place. So I think just getting that message out to the general public is needed,” said Aujla. “And I think you need commitment from all levels of government towards this issue in providing resources and funding.”

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“A lot more needs to be done about the way we’re looking at the issues.”

Officers urge people to call police if they sense any trouble, within their own relationships or others.

“Sometimes making that call can save a life; it can certainly change a life,” Police Chief Rod Knect said last week while speaking about the issue with reporters.

According to Statistics Canada, 68 people were killed by their partners in 2014. Most of the victims were women.

Here are some resources for those in need:

Edmonton Family Violence Centre

Canadian Mental Health Association
Child Welfare League of Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada, Family Violence Prevention Team, Centre for Health Promotion & Family Violence Initiative
Neighbours Friends & Families

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