“Christina had a big heart,” says her mother, Sherryl Fraser. “She would buy homeless people food from McDonald’s. She had a presence about her. She was a great listener. Christina had this gift of being able to counsel people.”
Her gift was taken away on Easter Sunday morning in March 2016 when Christina Voelzing was caught in the crossfire – and the egos – of a current and former boyfriend.
As the former burst into the West-Ottawa townhome Christina rented with her roommates, she ran downstairs from her bedroom to intervene. Shots rang out. One severed her carotid artery.
Sherryl awoke to the sound of a text on her phone. “Christina’s been shot,” she read. The sender was from one of the soon-to-be-convicted felons who caused her death.
“There’s not a moment that she’s not in my thoughts. I wear something of hers every single day. I wear a piece of her jewellery, taking it off only when I’m working out.”
One day, as she drove to the college campus where she works, Sherryl remembers thinking; there is no support for survivors of homicide. She decided she would set up a victims group for those who were going through what she continued to cope with. Then, within a week of that thought, Sherryl received a call from the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime.
There was a new victims of homicide support group. Would she like to attend?
This was the call Sherryl was waiting for. “I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know who the other people in the room would be.” Yet as she looked around the first evening, Sherryl realized ‘all these people are just like me’. The group taught Sherryl things she never knew. She learned about victim’s compensation and how to navigate unchartered waters. She was connected to others who were in the same boat and able to offer solace.
“You need to purge. You need to get things out. The group is a safe environment that allows you to share whatever is on your mind, with no judgement,” notes Sherryl. “The CRCVC provides the life raft you can grab onto until you can walk out on your own two feet and ready to face the world because this is the worst place in the world you could ever be.”
To support students in the victimology program at Alonquin College, Sherryl created the “Christina Voelzing Memorial Award”. The award is given to a victimology student – the very same program from which Christina was about to graduate.