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‘We’re here for you’: Winnipeg woman shares message of hope for families of homicide victims

Click to play video: '‘We’re here for you’: Winnipeg woman shares message of hope for families of homicide victims'
‘We’re here for you’: Winnipeg woman shares message of hope for families of homicide victims
A Winnipeg woman whose son was murdered nearly two decades ago wants the families of this year’s homicide victims to know they’re not alone. Marney Blunt reports – Nov 4, 2022

A Winnipeg woman whose son was murdered nearly two decades ago wants the families of this year’s homicide victims to know they’re not alone.

With two months left in the year, Winnipeg has currently tied its grim homicide record, with 44 people losing their lives to violent crime this year.

“It’s not just a number, that’s 44 families that have had somebody ripped from them,” Winnipeg police Const. Jay Murray told reporters earlier this week.

It’s a heartbreak that Karen Wiebe has known for nearly 20 years. Wiebe’s son, TJ, was brutally murdered on Jan. 5, 2003, at the age of 20. TJ had been beaten, injected, strangled, stabbed and left in a snow-filled ditch between St. Adolphe and St. Agathe.

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“There are 44 families out there now who are living without somebody they had hopes and dreams for and was part of their families and that is all lost,” Wiebe told Global News.

Wiebe is now the executive director for the Manitoba Organization for Victim Assistance, which provides emotional support to families of homicide victims and helps them navigate the criminal justice system during a time of grief.

Click to play video: '“I’m here when you’re ready,” TJ Wiebe’s mom reaches out to Cooper Nemeth’s family'
“I’m here when you’re ready,” TJ Wiebe’s mom reaches out to Cooper Nemeth’s family

She says while she has found ways to move forward after her son’s death, it changed her life forever, impacting everything from her outlook on life to her health to the shows she’s able to watch on TV.

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She also still is attending parole hearings for one of her son’s killers.

“It’s really a lifelong commitment for a family as well as for the offender,” Wiebe said.

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“And the only person that doesn’t get a lifelong commitment is of course the victim, because their life is gone, and of course that makes it ten times, a hundred times, a thousand times worse for a family.”

Wiebe has made it her life’s mission to help others who have lost a loved one to violent crime.

“The things that we live with that are not meaningful to other people, are horrifying to us,” she said. “They’re in our dreams, they’re in our thoughts everyday, and the only people that really understand what that’s like for us is other people who have lived through it and are living with it.”

She has a message she wants to send to the families who have lost loved ones to violent crime this year, and urges them to get in touch with the Manitoba Organization for Victim Assistance.

“We’re here for you, we’ve gone through this, we know most of what you’re going through, and we’re here to support you.”

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