Dear blog…I am going on vacation…

You heard it right, I am going on vacation. Scott and I are headed to the beautiful Caribbean island of the Dominican Republic where we will spend two weeks being beach babies in sunny Punta Cana. I shall miss you my fellow bloggers and I look forward to getting caught up on all your posts and news when I get back April 27!

Happy blogging till then…

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A final court date….

On Tuesday April 5, 2011, it would have been Donna Kennie’s 62 birthday. She most likely would have celebrated by having dinner with her children and grandchildren. It would have been a quiet, yet joyous celebration with much laughter and happiness.

Instead, on her 62 birthday, her children, grandchildren, family and friends sat in a court room listening to the victim impact statements being read. Her seven-year-grandson got up and spoke about how he missed his nanny. Her nine-year-old grandson talked about the day he found out she died and the confusion and fear he felt and how he will miss that she won’t get to see him grow up. Her eleven-year-old granddaughter broke down in court as she explained how devastated she’s been. Her eighteen-year-old grandson talked about being in the car that fateful day, what he saw, and how horribly impacted he’s been and will be for the rest of his life. Her thirty-four-year-old daughter talked about how she’s been turned into an angry and bitter woman since her mother was killed in a car accident and how she feels like she’s not able to be the warm, carefree mother to her own children that she once was. Her forty-year-old son stood and shared with the court how deeply he has grieved his mother, missed her, and how filled with anger he’s been as well as what it’s been like to watch his son struggle with the trauma of the experience. And I, at thirty-six, got up and told the court how her death was like reliving the death of my father and how robbed, I, along with everyone else, feels. Those were seven victim impact statements of the fifteen submitted that were read aloud to a court full of people. The judge, the court reporter, everyone cried openly as they were read. The emotions filled the room.

When Trent was allowed to address the court, he did so with a trembling voice and tears streaming down his face:

“I am so sorry. If I could trade places with her, I would.”

Trent, if we could have you trade places with her, trust me, we would too!

He was sentenced to three years in a federal penitentiary and banned from driving for five years. He will likely be eligible for parole within six months and will quite likely be released. In Canada, that’s what you get for getting drunk and killing someone – six measly months in jail.

The judge actually apologized but said he was bound to work within the constraints of our justice system and right now, that’s the jail sentence for this crime. It doesn’t matter what the maximum sentence is, what matters is the court of appeals in New Brunswick gave that sentence to someone else in a similar circumstances and since it’s the highest court, all other judges our bound to follow suit.

He also said more than once that although three years wouldn’t likely seem long enough to us, that it was unlikely there was any jail sentence out there that would be fair in our minds.

I found this to be a total cop-out. Actually, yes, there is a sentence out there that each of us felt in our minds was fair. For me, if he had been sentenced so that he SERVED ten years in jail, that would felt more fair to me. For Lisa and Cindy, perhaps it was more. For Scott, he said serving 15 years would have been more in line with what he wanted but in the end, what was most important to him was that he was found guilty, and held accountable, the sentence meant little.

I am at a loss to express how I feel. On the one hand, I know that Trent serving more time in jail won’t bring Mamma K back nor will it “heal” him in any way. Actually to the contrary, he’s likely to come out worse. It’s a “lose lose” situation. But at the same time, I am filled with anger and contempt that this man decided to put the lives of innocent people in his hands when he got behind the wheel of a truck impaired. I have no doubt he “thought” he was fine – most people who drive impaired “think” they are fine – that’s the problem – they AREN’T! I know he didn’t set out to kill a beautiful woman on that day but his ignorance to the consequences of his decisions and choices is unacceptable! It cost a truly innocent, beautiful, and remarkable woman her life. His decision and choices COST a life. There has to be an adequate consequence to that!

What do we need to do to get people to stop drinking and driving? What do we need to do to get people to stop being negligent when driving either through drinking, drugs, texting or whatever? What do we need to do so that people start to think that every single person on the road driving is their mother, father or child so they start to take the responsibility of driving seriously?

I don’t know. I am at a loss. How does this continue to happen?

To read the newspaper story, check out: http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/actualites/article/1395835

To read my victim impact statement: Hartford_Natalie_VIS_March_2011.

If you are just tuning in, catch up on the whole story with some related posts:

And just in case you are interested in getting involved (if you live in Canada): answer this Call to Action (for random breath testing, which will prevent these accidents from happening in the FIRST place).

Dear blog…it’s back to court we go…

Donna Kennie (1949-2009)

Well tomorrow is the big day; it’s back to court we go.

Trent Albert Mallet, who was found guilty of impaired driving causing death in February 2011, in relation to the car accident on August 1, 2009 that killed my mother-in-law, Donna Kennie, will be sentenced tomorrow; on what would have been her 62nd birthday! Finally this torturous trial will be behind us.

It’s not that the grief or pain will stop but at least this part of the process will be behind us and I think we will be able to start to heal. It’s closure for a wound that has been open and festering for over 18 months. It’ll be a huge weight lifted from our shoulders.

His sentence will never be enough. To be honest, it’ll likely be a slap in the face as Canadian impaired driving laws are laughable to say the least. You get more time for dealing marijuana than you do for driving drunk and killing someone. But at least he’ll be held accountable for his crime, which is more than most people in our situation get, giving that majority of impaired drivers who kill, aren’t even charged, let alone charged and convicted; the Canadian Criminal Code of Loopholes, as I like to refer to it.

Regardless, the system is what it is right now and we can’t change it for our immediate case. So we work within it and take the wins that we can!

I heard that there have been about 20 victim impact statements submitted for the judge to read. And there are a number of us who will be reading our statements aloud. I am sure it’ll be an emotional day to say the least.

I am nervous to read mine. I have no issue around public speaking and actually I welcome the opportunity but I am still nervous. I know when I get up there to speak my belly will be just churning, my palms will be sweating, my heart will be pounding, and my throat will feel like it’s suddenly the Sahara desert but that’s ok. Nothing will stop me from having my say. It’s the only opportunity we have to ensure that Trent hears how his choices and actions on that fateful day have affected us and how they will continue to affect us for the rest of our lives.

He gets to serve his time in jail, get out, and go on with his life, as if nothing ever happened while Donna’s family and friends are the ones left to serve a life sentence. We will miss and mourn the loss of this most spectacular woman, mother, and friend forever.

I will keep you posted tomorrow on the outcome. Stay tuned….

If you are just tuning in, catch up on the whole story with some related posts:

And just in case you are interested in getting involved (if you live in Canada): answer this Call to Action (for random breath testing, which will prevent these accidents from happening in the FIRST place).

Charity & Blog of the Month: the SPCA and a Saucy B

This month I am shaking things up and doing a combination post. My friend at The Life and Times of a Self-Proclaimed Saucy Bitch wrote a great post this morning about animal hoarding. A huge animal lover, the prevention of animal cruelty is an incredibly important issue that I feel very passionate about. And I want to give a huge Shout Out to Saucy B for bringing this subject up and putting it out there!

Summary of the Blog

Saucy B is a huge animal lover and she is passionate about helping animals. She volunteers are her local animal shelter. Her blog is a humorous look at her quest to “have it all” as a wife, working woman and everything in between.

Why I like the blog

Saucy B is about as down to earth as it gets. Her posts are real life insight with sense of humour that resonates with me. Reading her posts, I honestly feel like we are BFFs.

Some posts that had me giggling:

What Happens When You Leave Your Husband Alone with Your Blog? What a riot. This could have totally happened to me since Scott and I swap computers for any number of reasons.

Make Me Laugh Monday is part of a series of Monday posts with hilarious photos! And the best part, her readers get to comment on the caption. Saucy B then chooses the best one and she features that blogger in her side bar all week. So fun and cool!

Delusions of Grandeur is a hysterical post on her delusions of grandeur; I swear I nearly spit my coffee out reading this post. I think I found it incredible funny because I can relate and have envisioned doing the very same thing!!! 

Be sure to check out at The Life and Times of a Self-Proclaimed Saucy Bitch! It’s definitely a worthwhile, fun visit and I guarantee, you’ll keep going back for more.

And that brings me to my Charity of the Month…

In keeping in line with Saucy B’s lead today, I would like to highlight the organizations that work towards the prevention of cruelty to animals. I loved Saucy B’s post, The One Where I Get on My SoapBox – Animal Hoarding, where she wrote:

But animals can’t speak for themselves.  They are completely reliant on us – as the ASPCA slogan goes – to “be their voice.”

Yes…Let’s!!!

It amazes me that there are people out there who are cruel to our furry friends. It breaks my heart to think of animals being abused physically and/or neglected. Even more unthinkable is the madness of puppy mills and animal hoarding.

And worse than even that, if you can imagine, is the idea that there are people out there who know about these situations, know of the neighbor having a puppy mill, know of a family member hoarding, know of that person down the road neglecting or abusing his/her animals and yet they do NOTHING? To me, they are just as guilty!

The issue is tremendously upsetting and overwhelming for me. I feel so helpless and overpowered and emotionally devastated by the stories. How do we put an end to animal cruelty? How do we put an end to human cruelty for that matter? Why are there people out there who still feel like they have the right to prey on and take advantage of the most vulnerable in our societies?

I am at a lost. Every time I ponder the subject, my heart fills with dread and upset. I don’t understand and I don’t know what I can do about it other than support my local SPCA, bring attention to these horrendous crimes, and take care of my own furry children. It’s a small consolation but it’s all I got.

The first Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) was organized in England in 1824, primarily to prevent the abuse of carriage horses in the days before automobiles. The SPCA helped to pass laws that regulated the carriage-horse business. With this success, the Society expanded to include dogs and other animals in its fight against cruelty. The first American SPCA was started in 1866 in New York City. There are now SPCAs all over the US, Canada, and all over the world.

The common theme among all of the animal organizations is the belief that animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans, and must be protected under the law.

In Canada, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies(CFHS), founded in 1957, is the national voice of humane societies and local chapters of the SPCAs. They bring together those who work with, and care for animals to promote respect and humane treatment toward all animals. Throughout Canada, there are hundreds of local chapters of SPCAs in every province and territory. Check out: Canadian SPCAs.

In the United States, there is the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Founded in 1866, it is one of the largest in the world. Similarly to Canada, there are hundreds of local chapters located throughout the US. Check out: US SPCAs.

Internationally, there is the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) International, which has outreach programs to help thousands of animals around the world. The SPCA International was founded in the US in 2006 with the mission to advance the safety and well-being of animals. Check out: International SPCAs.

We can all do our part – locate and get involved with your local organizations!

Let’s be their voice!

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