"Mom, wake up."
Becky Michelin’s life changed in an instant. She can vividly remember shaking her mother's body, begging her to wake up. It's been more than 25 years, but the Rigolet woman recalls every detail of being awoken from her sleep by loud bangs, only to find both her parents dead.
Michelin had yet to celebrate her fourth birthday.
“I remember shaking my mother trying to wake her up. She was surrounded in blood. I shook her. ‘Mom, wake up.’ But she didn’t,” the 29-year-old recalled during a recent phone interview.
At first, Michelin thought that her mother had fallen and hit her head on the nearby woodstove.
Then she saw her father's body, covered in blood.
He was holding the gun.
Deidre Marie Michelin was 21 years old when she was murdered on Jan. 20, 1993. She had been shot by her partner, who had then turned the gun on himself.
The couple left behind four children, all under the age of five.
After the death of her parents, Michelin was sent to live with relatives in North West River. She moved to Happy Valley-Goose Bay as a teenager, where she still lives with her family.
Through the years, she's suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome. Fireworks left her traumatized for years, she said, as they reminded her of gunshots.
“Halloween time, if there were dummies with fake blood, that really scared me.”
Certain smells, like gunpowder, often brought her back to the moment she found her parents’ bodies.
“Sometimes, out of nowhere, I’d be caught in a flashback of the scene... It affected me for a very long time,” Michelin said.
Michelin now focuses her energy on healing and moving forward.
Sharing her story
Michelin told her story to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and gives media interviews when requested. She'll be the guest speaker at the Labrador West Status of Women Council’s In Her Name brunch and vigil on Feb. 24.
Labrador West Status of Women Council executive director, Michelene Gray, said this is the first time the Status of Women Council in her region has held an In Her Name event.
“We think it’s important to remember our sisters who were victims of domestic violence, to remember their names and to help support women in our community who may be going through domestic violence situations,” Gray said.
The vigil is also a way to raise awareness about domestic violence, she said, and to help prevent violence against women and girls.
Michelin always knew the time would come when she’d be ready to tell her story.
“It can’t be all bad that comes out of this. There has to be something good. I know that sharing my story brings awareness to the subject (of domestic violence). But, it also might help somebody else speak out as well or prevent somebody from staying in an abusive relationship,” she said.
If you go: The brunch and vigil will be held at the United Steelworkers Union Centre, 5795, 105 Hudson Drive in Labrador City, on Feb. 24. Tickets, $15, can be picked at the Labrador West Status of Women Council/Women’s Centre in Labrador City from 10 a.m.–3 p.m. daily until Feb. 22 at 3 p.m.