On Losing a Daughter




I would first like through you to give my sincere thanks to all the hundreds of people, from Edmonton and across the world, who have reached out to us with their sympathy in this time of our loss. We have been overwhelmed at the way in which this tragedy affecting our daughter has become the personal grief of so many Edmontonians. We will never be able to thank so many people, known and unknown, for their kindness, their prayers, and their practical help. I would like to thank so many of my fellow clergy for the time and understanding they have given us to help with our grief and with funeral arrangements. Our families have really felt the warmth of your love and care, and this has immensely helped all of us. The service we had yesterday, attended by over 700 people in three different church buildings, was a celebration that would have made Cathy overjoyed.

I would like to say a special word of thanks to the homicide unit of the Edmonton City Police. They have been working and are working on this case in an extremely professional way, but with a great deal of human sympathy to ourselves. I, of course, know no more about their success than any other person who reads the newspapers, but trust that in time they will be able to bring the offender to justice. I realize the fear that many people have while the case is unsolved, and we in our family feel it too.

I would also like to thank you in the media for what as been, on the whole but not entirely, accurate, constructive and unsensational reporting of the developments in the case. I will come back to this point later.

Cathy appears to have been abducted while on the steps of City Hall, going to pay a bill, to have been taken to a washroom some distance away in the Churchill L.R.T. station, where she was struck on the head, then strangled and assaulted. In such terrible circumstances, our comfort has to be that her end was quick and without great pain, and her body discovered very shortly after the event. She has left parents and parents in law who will miss her sadly, a husband with whom she shared her family, her love of music and the Lord: two young boys of 4 and 6 years of age who will have to grow up without her care, sisters, relatives, fellow workers, friends in her church and elsewhere.

A loss like this comes as a stunning blow to anyone who suffers it, and our first reaction was of disbelief - such things are not supposed to happen to an office worker downtown in the middle of Edmonton in the middle of the working day. Gradually, however, we had to accept that this was indeed the truth, and it was our dear Catherine who was the victim.

We are not particularly angry at the criminal. He is mentally unbalanced, and lives in a hell in his own mind in which the way he expresses love is by cruelty. He needs help and we hope he will in due course find it. Before this incident, I had been a person who had been lukewarm towards capital punishment - I could not see that it did any good. I had been met by the argument from others - "O, but suppose it was your own daughter who was murdered and raped?" I can only say that I feel much more strongly now than I ever did before that the violent taking of a human life - any life - is a tragedy. The violent taking of a second life in the name of justice is only to double that tragedy. Moreover, I am concerned at the psychology that this punitive attitude displays. It is a convenient way for people who like to think of themselves as `good guys' to pin their hostility on to a scapegoat, punish him severely, and then go on with their lives, patting themselves on the back that they are on the side of virtue and right, and the bad guys have received what they deserved. They are getting nowhere near the root of the problem.

People whose sexual appetites are perverted show a history of abuse in the earliest years of their lives. It is one of the tragedies of the period in which we live, that as we learn more and more about the importance of the loving care of children from the day they are born and even before, we do so little in our practical living to put that knowledge into effect.

Particularly in matters sexual, but in many other areas, such as family life, commerce and politics, we live in a very sleazy world. For their own comfort, people sacrifice humanity, treat other human beings as things, and so dehumanize themselves. Men are encouraged to look at women as they might look at a hunk of meat - something to satisfy their appetites with. And women, so often, accept this treatment, and allow themselves and their families to be abused and humiliated, without having the courage to insist on being treated as fellow members of the human race. The social consequences follow.

This is why I and the family are so interested in the "Women's Workshop": a project in which all our daughters have taken part, and in which Cathy was especially active in the last few months of her life. As a man, I know little of the insides of this two and a half day course. I can only vouch for the fact that in the last eighteen months, as our three daughters successively took this course, they found a new closeness towards each other and their parents, as they cleaned the garbage of years of useless misunderstandings, grudges and complaining out of their lives and set themselves objectives to live for. They developed a network of friends bound together by the common loyalty of a `support group', that freed them up to be the women they were meant to be, not the playthings of men who did not respect them. But as the other side of the coin, they also learned to transform their own men by the proper use of encouragement and love. An approach like this seems well worth while, to strengthen the family, discourage the abuse of children and all that this leads to, and add very much to to total of happiness in the world.

It is to help women otherwise unable to take a workshop to become involved in this course that we have set up the "Catherine Greeve Memorial Fund", though the objects of the fund will be set more widely to cover all forms of self improvement education. In addition, Cathy's workshop has as its gift in her memory set up a separate trust fund for her two children, which we intend will be administered through the Public Trustee. We are grateful for the amount of public response already received for these two projects.

Cathy's death has put our peace loving family in the position of being `Victims of Violence.' The worst shock is over, and we have accepted her death. I would like to give you folks in the media, however, some thoughts on how to behave to the victims of a tragedy like this. You have no right to badger us to make statements to the press. You have no right to pose as clients of my firm in order to secure an interview. It is not good journalism to twist a chance remark from my son in law into a piece of lurid fiction, because fiction sells more papers than truth. It prejudices our safety when you publish information concerning our proposed movements which might be of use to a dangerous criminal. It goes against all professional ethics when you use a subterfuge to try and obtain a photo whose copyright is not yours without the permission of the owner. More generally, in a crisis like this, You know as well as I do that the police investigating the crime need to be in full command of the news flow in order to carry out an effective investigation. Spreading rumours and speculation only hinders the investigation, and can put us victims in actual danger. You also know that nobody after an incident such as this can say much of value, let alone give a T.V. appearance that is anything more than a ghoulish display of human suffering, for quite a period of time. I am a lawyer, and I have some experience with the media, and strong family and church support groups, yet even I have had to stay away from my office, leave my home for a day or two, filter my calls through my staff and answering machine, and in the end bring in a public relations consultant to see that the intimate concerns of my family are handled by the media with decency. I hate to think what an innocent victim has to go through in a parallel case when disaster strikes, without the defences I am able to put up around me - not from the criminal, but from the newshounds.

Murder is not an amusement. It is a ghastly, painful, terrible thing. Gentlemen of the media, you are part of the problem. Think of the adults, think of the children, whose minds are being desensitized to violent death by the casual flood of violence that is the staple of your television entertainment. You are part of the problem. If you want to know what your attitude should be, go to the homicide detectives, who are spending laborious hours sifting clues, following up leads, and spending endless time and effort to bring a man to justice. That is the example which shows to everyone the enormous value of every human life. That sort of work is what it is to give proper respect to the dead.

In our family, we have lost a dear daughter whom we treasured very much, and we have done the best we can to make a constructive issue from our loss. Cathy was a very talented child who had already completed Grade XII at the age of 16. She has graduated now from the school of life earlier than many of us are called to. She has passed her course with honours, and I am proud to have been her father.

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(c) 1988: J. M. Hattersley