From left to right, Clarissa English, her brother Dakota English and her boyfriend Kyle Devine had just moved into a Lethbridge apartment together when they were stabbed to death in 2015. (gofundme.com/Facebook) It was only a few years ago that Kyle Devine was marching in an annual walk in Calgary to remember his slain mother, whose murder has never been solved. This week, Devine’s own killer was sentenced to life in prison for fatally stabbing three people.
There was no more poignant example of the catastrophic and sometimes fatal legacy of Canada’s residential school system and history of colonialism than in Courtroom 6 at the Lethbridge courthouse this week.
"[I was] struck by the fact that not only Austin’s family but the family of the victims, they seem to be surrounded by death," said defence lawyer Tonii Roulston.
Austin Vielle pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree murder for the brutal stabbing deaths of Devine, his girlfriend Clarissa English, 24, and her brother Dakota English, 18.
The three victims were extremely intoxicated when they died; Clarissa had the most alcohol in her blood at nearly six times the legal driving limit. Vielle was so drunk he couldn’t remember what happened, robbing the victims’ families of answers. Clarissa and Dakota English, and Clarissa’s boyfriend Kyle Devine (not seen), were killed by their friend Austin Vielle in 2015. (vimeo) Court heard that Vielle — whose family is from the nearby Blood Tribe — had been drinking and doing drugs, self-medicating after a close friend had died from suicide. He’d suffered physical and sexual abuse as a child.
After the guilty plea, several members of the English and Devine families read aloud victim impact statements that detailed how other losses compounded the grief.
"There’s uncles who’ve died, children who’ve died, mothers who’ve died; that seems to be a consistent theme throughout both of these families and it appears to be systemic," said Roulston. ‘This story needs to stop being told’
The victim impact statements told the story of grandmothers burying beloved grandchildren while mothers raise their babies’ babies.
"This story needs to stop being told," said Karen English, an aunt to Clarissa and Dakota and a social worker.
Devine’s mother isn’t around to raise her grandson. Jackie Crazybull, 43, was fatally attacked by three men who stabbed her to death at a Calgary bus stop in 2007. Her killers have never been caught.
A "Justice for Jackie" walk through Calgary takes place annually to honour Crazybull and all other missing and murdered Indigenous women across Canada.
Crazybull had already suffered much loss in her life — her sister was beaten to death by her boyfriend years earlier, and in 1999 a cousin was stomped to death in a Calgary alley.
The year after his mother died, Devine’s brother Josh was killed on the highway when he was struck by a car. In the past decade, Ian Devine lost his mother and brother to homicides. Another brother was killed while hitchhiking. (Meghan Grant/CBC) According to his brother, Devine’s mother and father, stepmother and stepfather all attended residential schools. Neither brother was raised by a biological parent.
"Parents don’t know how to be parents," said Ian Devine, who was brought up by an aunt. "It has its toll because it’s a part of the reason why they had turned to alcohol, drugs."
"[It’s] a cycle that kind of affected not just our ancestors that were in residential, it had an impact on every single one," said Ian. Jackie Crazybull was stabbed to death in 2007. She had already lost two sisters to homicide. Eight years after her death, her son was murdered. (Calgary Police Service) The English […]
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