Family of murdered Maple Batalia remembers sad day like it was yesterday

Maple Batalia’s sister, Roseleen, right, with her father Harry and mother Sarbjit, are still waiting for justice. Mark Van Manen/PNG

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

It has been a year since Maple Batalia was shot to death, but for her family, it’s as if the nightmare was only yesterday.

“It just feels like it hasn’t really been a year,” her sister, Roseleen Batalia, said from her family’s Surrey home.

“We just feel the way we did the day it happened.

“Time just keeps kind of passing by, but the emotions and feelings are just as strong.”

Maple, the third child of Harry and Sar-bjit Batalia, loved acting, modelling and drawing. She was a student at Simon Fraser University.

When the 19-year-old left SFU’s Surrey campus after a late night of studying for midterms on Sept. 28, 2011, she was shot to death in a parkade metres from the school’s entrance.

“To have someone just taken away like that – just ripped away from you – it angers you and makes you feel alone,” said Roseleen, fighting back tears.

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team is still working on the case, but the team has yet to make any arrests or narrow down a suspect.

“We’re suffering every day, not knowing. For that person to be out there and be free and my sister will never come back – it’s just not right,” said Roseleen.

“We’re just praying that justice is served and we’re not waiting years and years … to see them behind bars.”

For Harry Batalia, it has made for a “very difficult” year. He has trouble sleeping, finding himself awake most nights missing his “remark-able” daughter.

“Her memories will be with us for-ever … we’ll always love our angel,” he said, tears welling up in his eyes.

“We might ease up a little after get-ting the justice, but we will never see her again.”

The Batalias continue to reach out to their community, searching for anyone who may have been there that night, or even near the parkade.

The family has set up two scholarship memorial funds – one for studying the arts and another for health sciences – to help young girls like Maple.

“Things like that make us feel like our life … has some sort of purpose,” said Roseleen. Because in reality, there’s no way for the family to “normalize” their lives.

“I know Maple is never [coming] back,” her mother Sarbjit said quietly.

It is a reality they must face each and every day.

“There’s no real way of making it easier,” said Roseleen. “Until you have closure … you can’t start healing.”

The upset is still felt throughout the community, as well.

“They’re worried about their kids,” said Roseleen. “It just draws that, ‘Oh my God, this could happen to any-one.’ Just a young innocent person that was doing good things in their community to be taken away.

“It’s just disgusting to think that someone did that to an unarmed person … she was just walking to her car.”

To mark one year since Maple’s death, the Batalias will be at the SFU Surrey campus Friday for the release of Thy Beauty’s Doom, a documentary about Maple and her artwork, followed by a candlelight vigil in Holland Park at 7 p.m.

Roseleen said the vigil is intended “to remind everyone that we’re still peacefully waiting for justice,” and to ensure that Maple is “remembered and honoured in the way that she definitely deserves to be.”

“Don’t forget her,” Sarbjit whispered.





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