As the leaves change from green to brown and another new school year commences, we remember and honour the life of Maple Batalia.
Maple was a health science student at SFU; a bright, young woman with so much to look forward to. She was an emerging painter, model and actress, but sadly, her dream to become a doctor will forever remain just that – a distant dream.
5 years ago today, Maple’s life was suddenly and violently taken. She was only 19 years old at the time.
I never knew Maple, but I was a student at SFU Surrey when she was murdered. I remember walking from the parking lot to the campus doors one morning, seeing yellow police tape against the concrete parking lot, and thinking – something bad happened here.
As I sat down in my morning finance class our professor told us the news: Maple was shot to death in the SFU Surrey parking lot around 1am that morning. I will forever remember that moment: gasps of shock, stunned stares, and crying broke out around the room as people in the class realized their friend was now suddenly gone forever.
Later on, I would find out that Maple died at the hands of her ex-boyfriend - just because she didn’t want to date him anymore. Four and a half years after her death, he finally received a life sentence in prison, with possibility of parole in 21 years.
Sadly, this is a case of gender-based violence, which happens a lot more than we realize, or would like to think about. According to Stats Canada, when Maple died in 2011, there were 89 intimate partner homicides in Canada that year, and in 2014 there were 83 intimate partner homicides. This is a serious problem that demands everyone’s attention. Women and girls should not be killed just because they were born female.
Although Maple’s dreams cannot come true, you can help youth achieve the same dreams she once had. The Batalia family, along with House of Kiran, have established the Maple Batalia Memorial Fund in her honour.
This fund is split into 2 parts to reflect Maple’s many interests and talents: the SFU Health Sciences Bursary and the Maple Batalia Memorial Scholarship for the Arts (partnered with Emily Carr University of Art and Design).
This memorial fund is one of many ways her legacy lives on. ‘Thy Beauty’s Doom’ is a short dance film made in memory of Maple and features the song, “Forever Gone - Maple’s Song,” which can be downloaded from iTunes. All money from song downloads goes straight to Maple’s memorial fund.
It is clear to see that during her short life, Maple touched many lives. Now that she is gone, she continues to touch the lives of people she has never met.
Our thoughts are with Maple’s family and loved ones on this day. Let us all take a moment to honour Maple Batalia, and all the women whose lives have been taken at the hands of their partners or ex-partners.