Friends mourn Okanagan mother who died under undisclosed circumstances

Flowers are accumulating outside the home of a Vernon, B.C., woman who died earlier this week.

Kaylee Bannister, 32, lived along the 5500 block of Heritage Drive until Tuesday, when she died in what are officially undisclosed circumstances.

RCMP said only that there was a woman’s death and there was no known risk to the public when asked Wednesday about a significant police presence in an otherwise quiet neighbourhood.

On Friday, they still had little to offer, but a makeshift memorial in Bannister’s driveway has seen flowers and notes with the words Justice4Kaylee.

Those offerings to the mother of a 12-year-old and a six-month-old speak to the nature of the investigation police have embarked upon.

Click to play video: 'BC’s police watchdog investigates RCMP’s handling of a threat report made by Lumby woman who was killed four months later'

BC’s police watchdog investigates RCMP’s handling of a threat report made by Lumby woman who was killed four months later

Global News reached out to Bannister’s friends. To date, only one was willing to speak, but under the condition of anonymity due to safety concerns.

Story continues below advertisement

“I’m pretty heartbroken. I have my moments of rage where I’m angry,” said the friend, who knew Bannister for the better part of a decade.

The email you need for the day’s top news stories from Canada and around the world.

She believes Bannister was killed in a situation that she’s advocated for others to escape: Domestic violence.

Police have not confirmed this.

“She was loved by many. She lit up any room she would walk into, she had a heart of gold,” the friend said.

More on Crime

“She would give the shirt off her back if she had to. Her kids and her dog were her life.”

The friend said that Bannister’s case is evidence that “the justice system needs to do better.”

“She didn’t deserve to die the way she died,” the friend said. “She deserves every bit of justice and our justice system needs to show that.”

Angela Marie MacDougall, the executive director of Battered Women’s Support Services in Vancouver, said it’s another sad example of an “epidemic of violence against women in B.C., but also Canada.”

“We know that one in three women have experienced domestic violence, and, of that, there is a significant portion who are at risk of lethal violence,” MacDougall said.

Story continues below advertisement

Women in abusive relationships are at heightened risk when they leave, when they’re pregnant and in the early months of mothering, something they’ve noticed through their crisis lines in the Vancouver area.

And, she pointed out, it’s not looking better in the North Okanagan.

“Just last week we were discussing another killing of a woman within the vicinity of the greater Vernon area,” MacDougall said.

“There have been far too many femicides here this year. We know that domestic violence and intimate partner violence is not a policy priority right now, for the province of British Columbia.”

MacDougall said there is a provincial action plan on gender-based violence that, at the moment, doesn’t highlight domestic intimate partner violence as a priority for this first year.

That, she said, needs to change.

“Right now femicides in British Columbia aren’t registering on the provincial government at all, unfortunately,” she said.

“We have what is certainly a serious social problem of which femicide — or the killing of a woman by a partner, current or ex — should basically be alarming to any of us out there.

“For every woman who is killed, we know that there are thousands more who are living in fear.”

Story continues below advertisement

MacDougall said there needs to be bigger and more thoroughly funded community-based interventions.

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.