Killing of New Westminster mom adds to spike in femicide in B.C., Canada, advocate says


VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – B.C. has so far this year seen several women and girls killed due to violence, according to Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS).

That includes the recent death of Maria Cecilia Loreto, whose body was found in Burnaby on March 18.

BWSS says the majority of the accused in these cases are men, suggesting gender-based violence and killings are on the rise.

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we scaled up our informal ‘femicide watch’ to analyze systemic shortcomings and to recommend measures for prevention and intervention,” said Angela Marie MacDougall, executive director, BWSS. “There has been a statistical spike in femicide in 2021 in British Columbia and across Canada. This should be a wake up call for everyone.”

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The organization says B.C. tied Quebec in making the beginning of this year “the most deadly for women and girls than the same period in previous three years.”

MacDougall says this should be a wake-up call for everyone, and stresses steps need to be taken to prevent gender-related killings and violence.

“We’ve been looking at the shortcomings in wanting to recommend measures for prevention and intervention that includes engagement from all levels of government, but also the larger society … to take action,” she explained.

“We need to take action right now, for sure, on assuring that the services that have been established to provide crisis and other supports for women that experience a range of gender violence, including domestic partner violence, domestic violence, sexual violence, are funded well,” MacDougall added.

Loreto’s body was discovered at Burnaby’s Greentree Village Park just before 2 a.m. Police believe the New Westminster woman was killed in her home last Wednesday before her body was moved to Burnaby’s Greentree Village Park, near the BCIT campus, and set on fire.

Charges of first-degree murder and indignity to human remains have been laid against a 21-year-old, and a 15-year-old, who cannot be named.

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