A Tough Day (5 years later)

Given the attention that naturally occurs during this phase of the legal process I wanted to remind people about the goals of the ‘not-for profit’ we founded after our daughters death in December of 2014. For those not familiar with the story the link below summarizes the murder conviction in the killing of our 8 year old daughter Teagan (sentencing occurred this week).

Teagan’s Murder Press Coverage

Our mission is to serve Canada’s youngest, most vulnerable, and at-risk citizens, by enacting preventative measures to prioritize the rights’ of children to live, grow, and be nurtured and respected in protective and loving home environments regardless of family status, gender, ethnicity or income. We have a collective national responsibility to provide children with a safe home and to support children who are at risk.

Our priorities include :

I) National visibility, priority and oversight of the UN Rights of a Child Convention. This included the appointment of Federal Children’s Advocate and the adoptions of a Canadian Children’s Charter.

II) Using our education, knowledge and first-hand experience to actively participate in legislative and policy reforms.

III) To preserve the memory of Teagan Batstone who was a special little girl who touched many in life and even more in death.

We are often asked “What can I do? Here are six suggestions for you to consider :

1. Call Politicians – demand a Children’s advocate and share your opinions on the sentencing and parole of child killers.

2. Make Sure Kids Know Their Rights – take the time to learn about and promote the UN Rights of a Child Convention.

3. Donate to Children’s Rights Advocates like UNICEF, Children First Canada or Teagan’s Voice.

4. Report & Document Abuse – if you see it report it! To the police, children advocate or whomever in a position of responsibility you feel comfortable with.

5. Hold Political Candidates Accountable – ask the tough questions and make children right an issue every time you talk to them or when they call you!

6. Speak Up for Kids – we need to talk about it at home, work, school, online and in public. Keeping kids safe is not a taboo topic.

RIP TEAGAN

Gabe Batstone Victim Impact Statement

In some ways the impact of this crime is quite simple – seven decades of beautiful Teagan’s life. None of the significant life events you dream about including graduating elementary school, birthdays, high school, holidays, university or college, marriage, grandchildren, vacations and so much more will ever happen. Though what haunts you most days is the far more mundane losses of trips to the park, quiet cuddles, comforting hugs, grocery shopping and frankly just being with Teagan anywhere anytime.

In other ways the impact is so deep, tangential and complex that words could never do it justice. For me the worst pain is seeing the two people Teagan loved most (her brothers) suffer such profound grief – sadness, confusion, shame, guilt, anger, embarrassment, and sorrow. It makes me angry because I know that this would upset Teagan even more than her own death. The first questions that they asked shortly after her murder and many times since offer a glimpse into their shattered innocence and raw emotional pain :

  • Why is my sister in the ground when other kids have sisters at school?
  • Is Teagan’s mommy going to kill me too? No we will protect you buddy.
  • Then why didn’t you protect Teagan?

The life of a happy, empathetic, funny, caring, innocent, athletic, sensitive and loving child was taken for no reason. Of course the victims are not limited to our immediate family but in reality everyone who had the joy of meeting Teagan and those who now will never get the chance. Her innocent classmates, relatives, teachers, neighbors and of course friends. Often forgotten are the first responders, investigators, coroner, lawyers, and judges. I have witnessed first-hand some of the pain and trauma they suffer as they dutifully worked towards justice for Teagan, so the systems that failed her in life did not fail her in death. I owe them a debt of gratitude I can never repay.

Losing Teagan has been a personal 9\11 – nothing in life can ever be the same and none of it is for the better. There can be no joy without pain, no holiday without sorrow, no event without regret and no day without sadness. I am blessed to have an amazingly strong, loving and supportive wife and children without whom none of my perceived strength would be possible. I generate my will, fortitude and persistence for them through Teagan’s voice always in my heart. We talk about Teagan every day and she remains an integral part of our family but the harsh reality she literally died at the hands of her mother takes an emotional and physical toll on each and every one of us.

Often not seen is that the slowness of the criminal justice process and the possibilities of appeals and hearings is very hard on the entire family as you are brought back to the trauma repeatably. Four years later here I stand reliving the worst day of my life, away from my family and job, days before Father’s Day. The verdict was the day before Teagan’s Step-Mom’s birthday and the trial itself within days of the day she was murdered. Given the nature of the crime and what occurred before and after Teagan’s death cause fear for the safety of our immediate and extended family.

Perhaps the easiest way to convey the impact of the Teagan’s murder is to ask a person to imagine something they would not endure in exchange for the life of their child? There is nothing….no amount of loss or pain a person would not sacrifice to save their child’s life. They would suffer torture, give up an arm or eyesight, quit a job, pay any ransom and certainly exchange their own life for hers. Why would you do this? Because all of that pales in comparison to the pain of having your child murdered. Seventy years of life, love and family simply vanished.

Guilty

Sitting in a courtroom after over two hours of heart wrenching, gruesome and depressing details the Judge uttered the words many of us had been waiting for since December of 2014 – “Guilty of 2nd Degree Murder”.  Those words came after sitting on the edge of our seats listening to the specific details of Teagan’s last few days alive and then the summary of the prosecution and defense cases. After a break the Judge outlined in detail her analysis and the related case law to support her conclusion. It was emotional, tiring and enraging in equal doses! Of course there were supporters of the murderer sitting only meters away and the media just behind us.

Once sentencing is complete we may share some of the details many of which has been published by the media. It is fair to say that the details leave no doubt about the evil intent and actions that stole a beautiful child from this world. How you can kill an 8 year girl in cold blood is beyond me and Teagan deserved so much more.

Although this was a significant moment in the horrifying ordeal it’s far from the end of the process. The date to set the sentencing date is still weeks away and the sentencing itself is still months away. There is also the reality that in Canada a life sentence is not really “life”. The good news is Lisa Batstone will forever be a convicted murderer but the reality is she could still walk free in as soon as 6 years (after reducing time served). The minimum parole eligibility is 10 years and the maximum is 25 years. In all likelihood it will lie somewhere in between at say 15 years.

I would be remiss not to thank the Prosecution for their dedication to the task and the Judge for her thorough and considered verdict. Another chapter is this tragic saga is complete but if far from over and none of it will bring our sweet Teagan home.

Mother Guilty of 2nd Degree Murder

Four years

It has been exactly four years since our daughter Teagan was taken from us by a cold blooded killer. Sadly we just learned how she died this week and it did nothing the soften the loss, and frankly added to the trauma. In many ways it just made the whole situation more confounding and depending on the moment enraging.

https://bc.ctvnews.ca/i-relive-it-every-day-grieving-father…

The moment I dread most at the moment is answering the question her brothers have been asking from day 1 – how did she die? Explaining that she died was torture in 2014 but explaining how Teagan’s biological mother killed her with her bare hands, had a nap, cancelled some appointments and then put her dead body into a car is overwhelming. However, we will persevere, the boys will strengthen and we will remember the empathic, beautiful and funny kids Teags was.

Normally I share this content on her Facebook page but today I post here to remind anyone who is suffering or has suffered traumatic loss that you are not alone. It can be difficult to manage and communicate personal trauma in a business context. When it’s in the media its somewhat easier in the sense that you don’t have a choice on public awareness. However, regardless of whether your pain is ‘public’ or not you don’t have to sit in the shadows, feel shame or even awkward about your trauma. If you want to share it then you should and if you prefer to keep it to yourself then that works as well. The unfortunate reality is that all of us suffer trauma in our lives – some more that others but it’s a shared human condition. Everyone dies…and collectively we can do a much better job with the mourning and grieving process. We have some wonderful examples of how to do it right with former Vice President Joe Biden as exhibit A.

I hold steady to Teagan’s Voice demanding I remain focused on her brothers, saving our children in her memory and making sure she is always a part of our life – check, check, check. Thankfully few of you will suffer our families pain but that does not lessen yours. If anyone out there needs a shoulder or an ear never hesitate to contact me. I can’t bring Teagan back but I can continue to make her proud.

Children’s First Summit -A different kind of business trip

Earlier this month our family headed to Toronto for a couple of days. Teagan’s imprint is of course all over this trip from the decision to take the train ride to the constant stories that her brothers tell about her and the reality that the purpose was to support a Children’s Rights conference. It seems like just yesterday Teagan was with us on the train to catch a Blue Jays game and go up the CN Tower. Of course Teagan’s favourite part of the trip was Ripley’s Aquarium with a close second being the outdoor pool on the 17th floor of the Hyatt Hotel.

November 20th is ‘National Child Day’ and  Teagan’s older brother was attending the 2nd Annal National Children’s Summit. Last year in Ottawa they drafted the first Canadian Children’s Charter (which he also participated in) and one year later they have a final document to share with the many stakeholders including the Federal and Provincial Governments.

The kids identified a need for a National Commission for Children, specific funds allocated in the budget for children and the enactment of the Canadian Children’s Charter. Teagan’s Voice from very early on has been advocating for a Federal Children’s Advocate and if that manifests itself as a National Commission that accomplishes many of the same objectives.

It has been inspiring as a citizen to watch these young people collaborate to make Canada a safe place for Children. We rank an embarrassing 26 of 41 wealthy nations in child welfare as reported by the United Nations – which in my opinion is a national embarrassment. As a parent I could not be more proud of our son channeling the tragedy of losing his sister into something so positive. A huge thank you to Children First Canada and Sara Austin for their passion in driving this initiative.