Janice Coady, left, Aimee Chalifoux and Linda Milford at a vigil for Amy Watts on Wednesday, June 16, outside Nanaimo city hall. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)

‘We need to do better,’ says mother of woman killed in Nanaimo

Vigil held for former outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found downtown June 3

The mother of the young woman who was found dead in downtown Nanaimo earlier this month wants to see society do better.

Amy Watts’s death is being investigated as a homicide by Nanaimo RCMP after the 27-year-old’s body was discovered downtown in a wooded area close to city hall on June 3.

Janice Coady, Watts’s mother, flew across the country from Prince Edward Island and spoke at a vigil for her daughter on Wednesday, June 16, in the Nanaimo city hall parking lot.

“Amy led a life of happiness, love and caring and compassion, but she led a life with a fractured mind through her mental health and her diseases that she struggled with,” Coady said. “And then that instrument of addiction jumped in and it tore her to shreds on so many levels. But she fought, because my girl was a fighter, and she was a beautiful soul.”

Watts was remembered as someone who at one point was able to escape heroin addiction, show determination to go back to school, and who as an outreach worker was able to help others with integrity and compassion.

After moving from P.E.I., Watts sought help from Nanaimo Youth Services Association and later worked for the agency. Aimee Chalifoux, Watts’s friend and co-worker at NYSA, said Watts was incredible at what she did, and would stand in line with clients for hours at Service Canada to advocate for them.

“She loved her work, she loved helping marginalized people,” Chalifoux said. “She knew a lot of their pain.”

Watts also made an impact working at Samaritan House women’s shelter, as nine individuals representing Sam House at the vigil remembered Watts’s compassionate advocacy and love for her work.

RELATED: Discovery of woman’s body in downtown Nanaimo now being investigated as a homicide

Gord Fuller, former Nanaimo city councillor, was one of Watts’s supervisors at NYSA. He remembered her strength and said she did a great job while she was here, and can continue to do a great job in death if others are willing to carry on her advocacy.

“There are other people out there with similar stories whose voices will never be heard…” Fuller said. “Think of Amy and think of everybody else that no one knows.”

Chalifoux expressed similar intentions, saying “we’re going to keep advocating every day for the rest of our lives for Amy and for every other person out there that needs us, and I hope you guys do the same.”

Coady said when her daughter was reported missing, people looked at the picture and dismissed her as a “druggie,” and said although Watts had been addicted in her last days, she was a daughter, a sister, a niece, a granddaughter, a stepdaughter, a friend and a human.

“Nobody is born on this Earth thinking, I can’t wait to be an addict and a crackhead and to be sick and raped and brutalized and beaten and harmed beyond … what any person should go through,” Coady said. “No person is born into that. No family wants that. We are humans; we are a society. We need to do better.”

Nanaimo RCMP are continuing to investigate Watts’s killing. No arrest has been made.

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editor@nanaimobulletin.com

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