Konnie Reich's speech from
Fiona Stewart's memorial November 8, 1996
I guess by now most people know that I was Fiona's partner. We met in March of 1992. Fiona was going through some sort of crisis that night and in desperation had called Maggie's for help. Because I lived with Chris Bearchell, who at that time was the administrator of Maggie's, Fiona was brought to our house by Andrew. Certainly I had been aware of the Junger/Whitehead Inquiry because in our house this was a topic of conversation. But now we were meeting Jane Doe... I remember this well. I opened the door to her and Andrew and I was.. surprised. It was decided that Fiona should stay with us and she was immediately made part of our household. Within a few days I realized that I had more then just a passing interest in Fiona. At the same time I was aware that her life was difficult enough and perhaps she didn't need me to complicate it further. But matters of the heart have a way of working themselves out.
During the first few month of our relationship I was overwhelmed with facts pertaining to the Inquiry, her lawyers the media and the cops. At first I found it impossible to have an opinion on some of the issues she had to deal with, but there was something I could give her no matter how difficult the situation was and that was support.
Within two months of our relationship we were already faced with a separation because the cops and her lawyer wanted her to be safe and out of town and she had no choice and had to agree to a second witness protection program. This time it was supervised by the cops, which made Fiona tense and scared and most definitely made her feel unsafe. Rightly so, because the cops screwed up about every aspect of this program. Of course, she was not supposed to tell her friends where she was going and I couldn't go with her because I wasn't the boyfriend. In time she let me know where she was and I was able to visit. It was so important for me to physically be there with her, because this was such an isolating experience for her. And it was tense as hell. When the Junger\Whitehead report was released in August of 1992 I was with her and I was very happy that I could share the moment of vindication with her. It was the only time when Fiona was able to relax and we had some fun in an otherwise dismal four-month period. When Fiona returned to Toronto in November I assumed that all that cop stuff would die down. But no such luck. The harassment continued and charges where pending, until her lawyer put a stop to it. Clearly, the report of the Inquiry had pointed at the cops for wrong doing, the media found every opportunity to echo this message, only the cops didn't get it. It was annoying and frustrating and totally devastating for Fiona to be victimized at every opportunity over and over again.
I needed to stress this part of our relationship, because to talk about Fiona and not to talk about Jane Doe would be inconceivable for me. The fact that she was Jane Doe had changed her life. Consequently, our relationship was anything than normal, although I tried as much as possible to make it seem normal. I shared part of her private hell and I felt her pain and it was a heavy burden. But if I felt her pain was to heavy to bear how must it have felt to her? Remembering Fiona means also to pay tribute to other parts of her personality. She was courageous, respected by her friends, efficient when she needed to be. She cared compassionately about her friends. Most of all her incredible sense of humour, that she managed to find in the most unlikely situations got her through a lot of tough moments. Certainly, she demanded much of me and I found the energy and the right words to say when she needed it most. There were countless times when I was the first person she would call because she was upset, depressed, freaked out ect,. and I managed to get through to her in a gentle way. But one thing was for certain, you never told Fiona what to do, she made decisions about her own life.
This year was the first time the 7th of November did not mean a day of pain to Fiona. She is finally at peace. For me the early period of November 1989 has so much positive meaning because of the fall of the Berlin Wall for Fiona the inevitable spiral was put in place that ruled the rest of her life. She fought it and for that we ,will remember her but she could never win. I'm proud of her for having the guts to take on the police force single handedly because I don't know anybody else who had that kind of courage. For that single act she needed all of our support. Most of us who are present here today and other people who could not make it we as a community have loved Fiona and took care of her. Although her family is intent on erasing Fiona, she lives on in our hearts and as a community we will never allow her life to be erased.