Two years after Maple Batalia’s murder, her parents and sister still feel her absence as acutely as they did the day she died.
“It’s a vicious cycle because it’s still so fresh,” said Maple’s elder sister, Roseleen.
While there’s no danger Maple’s family will forget the model, actress and university student, they are doing what they can to keep her memory alive in the community.
On September 28, 2011, Batalia, 19, was shot multiple times in the parking lot adjacent to Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus, where the health-sciences student had been studying. She died in hospital.
Batalia’s former boyfriend, Gurjinder (Gary) Dhaliwal, is charged with first-degree murder. A second young man, Gursimar Singh Bedi, is charged with manslaughter with a firearm and being an accessory after the fact.
On Saturday, September 28, the Batalias will mark the second anniversary of Maple’s death with a candlelight vigil at Surrey’s Holland Park.
It will be the third vigil held in Maple’s memory, but this time two women who were the victims of domestic violence — Manjit Panghali and Poonam Randhawa — will be honoured as well.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a long time,” Roseleen said. “I feel these women’s beautiful lives are a lesson to us.”
Panghali, 31, disappeared after attending a prenatal yoga class in south Surrey on October 18, 2006. Her charred remains were found five days later at Deltaport Way. Her husband, Mukhtiar, was convicted of second-degree murder.
Eighteen-year-old Randhawa was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, who shot her in the head and dumped her body in a Vancouver lane in January 1999. Ninderjit Singh then went on the lam for 12 years. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder earlier this year.
Friends and members of the women’s families will be present at the vigil.
“I want to let people know these other women are not forgotten about just because justice has already been served,” Roseleen said.
Violence against women is an issue that Roseleen said needs to stay in the spotlight because too many women are dying. She hopes that putting the stories of Maple, Panghali and Randhawa front and centre at the vigil will get people thinking about what causes violence against women and how it can be stopped.
“I felt like I have a social obligation to help not only Maple, but other women,” Roseleen said. “Even if we can touch one person’s life we’ve done something.”
The vigil will take place on September 28 at 6 pm at Holland Park, which is located at the corner of King George Boulevard and Old Yale Road in Surrey. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own LED lights or candles.