Lauren Chopek says telling her story is exhausting, but she hopes it will inspire change. (CBC) Marcy Markusa Marcy Markusa hosts Information Radio on CBC Radio One 89.3 FM / 990 AM in Winnipeg. Born and raised in the Manitoba capital, Marcy is passionate about the future of our community and loves how it’s growing in both confidence and prosperity. She thrives on getting honest and straight-forward answers for listeners and infuses the show with her energetic warmth and sense of humour.
Lauren Chopek, 21, was a runaway when she found herself in the apartment of convicted killer Shawn Lamb at age 14. When she brought up sexual assault charges against Lamb, they were dropped as part of a deal to secure guilty pleas in the murders of Carolyn Sinclair, 25, Lorna Blacksmith, 18, and Tanya Jane Nepinak, 31. That plea deal, she says, was another blow to her self-worth.
With recent not-guilty outcomes for those accused in the deaths of Colten Bushie and Tina Fontaine, Chopek says she sees herself in Tina and knows she could have met a similar fate. She blames a system that she says didn’t help her despite reaching out for it.
Chopek recently spoke with Information Radio’s Marcy Markusa. Their conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.
So what are the similarities when you look and think about Tina Fontaine’s story? When you were 14, ’cause you’re 21 now, right?
The age stands out to me. We’re both clearly in the need of help, and lost, searching for something. We were both being taken advantage of. Both being judged on our actions. Meanwhile, we’re just children and we’re just trying to survive and cope in the way that we know how.
You yourself, when you were around Tina’s age, were a chronic runaway. Were you running from something, to something? Do you remember at that time what was going through your mind as you were going through this?
There’s kids that run away from good homes and I was kind of one of them. I had a good, supportive, healthy mother at the time. But I had personal issues that I needed to deal with. Feeling abandoned by my father and also being sexually assaulted at a younger age as a child, and even in high school. And I just really, at some point, I lost my self-worth. I continued to run away so I could try to escape those feelings that were inside of me.
What were your feelings over the course of the [Raymond Cormier] trial and then hearing the verdict?
When the verdict came out, I was really hurt. And shocked, but also not really shocked, because I’ve had experiences of injustices when I’ve went to the police, the people that are supposed to protect us. I was looked down on and my words weren’t listened to. And I feel like it’s because I was an Aboriginal youth that for some reason people just did not care about what happened to me. For some reason, they couldn’t just look past whatever judgments they had and that’s all I see with Tina.
Before the verdict came out, they brought up how there was drugs and alcohol in her system. That should not matter. She was a child. And no matter if she was running away all the time, or using drugs, she was still a child that was broken and needed help.
It reminded me of Shawn Lamb. I met him and I charged him for sexual assault, but meanwhile, when he was on trial for murdering those young women, […]
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