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Romane Bonnier remembered as kind, charismatic woman who brought ‘so much joy’ into the world

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WATCH: Romane Bonnier, 24, was killed in Montreal earlier this week. As Global's Olivia O'Malley reports, her friends say she brought joy into the world and had a bright future ahead of her – Oct 21, 2021

Romane Bonnier was known for her charisma, confidence and kindness from those who consider themselves lucky to have crossed paths with her.

The 24-year-old Montrealer with an infectious smile had a strong voice and musical talents, but a close friend notes she is remembered for the many lives she touched in her short life.

“She was the definition of unique and individual,” Callan Forrester said. “She marched to the beat of her own drum.”

Bonnier was killed in a brazen daylight attack on a Plateau-Mont-Royal street in front of witnesses on Tuesday afternoon. Montreal police say she was stabbed in her upper body and she was in critical condition when rushed to hospital, where her death was shortly confirmed afterwards.

Read more: Quebec man charged with first-degree murder in province’s 17th femicide of 2021

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A 36-year-old man named François Pelletier was arrested at the scene. He was charged with first-degree murder in Bonnier’s death Wednesday and will return to court

Const. Véronique Dubuc said the two were roommates in the past. While few details have emerged, police say they are treating it as a case of domestic violence as the investigation continues.

The death of Bonnier marks the 26th homicide in Montreal this year as well as the 17th femicide in the province according to an unofficial count.

In the days that have followed, condolences have poured in for Bonnier on social media and in person. There is a shrine laden with flowers, candles and a plush teddy bear lining a tree on the sidewalk where she was killed.

Forrester is heartbroken and numb. Beyond being grief stricken, she is angry their mutual friends have agreed that Bonnier was “supposed to live forever.”

Romane Bonnier, second from left, and Callan Forrester, left. The two were close friends. Submitted by Callan Forrester

But Forrester says the onslaught of tributes and kind words are a testament to the role her friend played in so many people’s lives over the years.

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“I just think that it speaks to her character and who she was,” said Forrester, adding she had grown close to her over the past six years after they went to Marianopolis College together. The two had studied theatre together and were part of a group of close-knit friends.

Romy, as she affectionately called her, was ethereal. She was reminiscent of the quirky Phoebe Buffay from Friends — she knew exactly who she was, Forrester said.

“It’s so hard to describe who she was, you know, because she was just she was Romy and there’s nobody like her,” Forrester said.

Bonnier’s social media is filled with video clips of her interpretations of a wide range of music from Abba to Les Miserables. Most of the time, she is seen alone in front of a brick wall as her voice fills the room, but the singer was also active in a local music organization for youths.

Samuel Champagne, director general of the Orchestre Philharmonique et Choeur des Mélomanes, said in an email that Bonnier was involved in the choir from the start.

“She was a very talented singer and actress, as well as a dear friend who brought so much joy into this world,” he said.

The choir will dedicate its upcoming concert on Saturday in Bonnier’s honour, with the organization offering its condolences to her family and loved ones.

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“Her smile and shining voice will always remain in our heart.”

Bonnier’s death has also come to a blow to those who didn’t know her.

Eve Thomas walks through the area where the young woman was attacked, just east of McGill University, on a regular basis. She stopped by the shrine on Alymer Street in honour of Bonnier.

“I just wanted to come pay tribute and just see the things that people left by people who loved her,” Thomas said through tears.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said her thoughts are with Bonnier’s family and loves ones and she also called for the end of violence against women. “Femicides must stop now,” she wrote on social media.

Quebec Premier François Legault described the young Montrealer’s death as “terrible,” adding that he couldn’t believe it happened in the province.

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“It was beyond words,” said Isabelle Charest, the province’s minister responsible for the status of women. In wake of a spade of femicides, the government has invested funding in the fight against domestic violence, but Charest said she will continue to work to ensure such tragedies “happen less and less.”

Those who knew and loved Bonnier hope she will be remembered for more than how her life ended, but who she was as a person.

“I think that it’s important that we don’t forget her name,” Forrester said. “She can’t be forgotten, you know?”

— with files from The Canadian Press

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