'A beautiful person': Family, community mourn death of woman in Point Douglas

·3 min read
Relatives of Danielle Ballantyne gather around a photo of the 36-year-old mother of four on Saturday evening in Point Douglas. Ballantyne was killed by teens and her body found in a Jarvis Avenue suite on Monday, police said.  (James Turner/CBC - image credit)
Relatives of Danielle Ballantyne gather around a photo of the 36-year-old mother of four on Saturday evening in Point Douglas. Ballantyne was killed by teens and her body found in a Jarvis Avenue suite on Monday, police said. (James Turner/CBC - image credit)

About 100 people gathered outside an apartment block in Winnipeg's Point Douglas area on Saturday evening to pay tribute to the life of a mother of four whose life was cut short by violence this week.

Family, friends and others in the community who knew Danielle Dawn Ballantyne lit candles, sang traditional Indigenous songs and prayed together, keeping vigil for the memory of the 36-year-old who was found dead by police in a suite in the 100 block of Jarvis Avenue on Monday.

Ballantyne, who was originally from Misipawistik First Nation (Grand Rapids) but moved to Winnipeg about a decade ago, was a giving person who was very protective of her family, relatives said.

"She would go above and beyond," said Lorraine Ballantyne, a younger sister, in a brief interview.

"She didn't have much, but what she did have she gave to us and her children. Her children were the most important thing in her life. She would do anything for them."

James Turner/CBC
James Turner/CBC

Danielle Ballantyne's death was one of several serious violent attacks that police were called to in the same general area of Winnipeg that morning, said police.

Two teenage boys have been arrested and charged with second-degree murder in Ballantyne's killing. They also each face a separate murder charge each for the killing of another man a couple of hours before Ballantyne was found.

"We love her very much and we pray for those people who did this," said Ballantyne's aunt Gail Ledoux.

"We pray for them and forgive them because my niece was a beautiful person. She loved everyone," Ledoux said. "She would always say I love you to everyone she met."

Ballantyne was homeless when she died, relatives said.

James Turner/CBC
James Turner/CBC

Darryl Contois, who works with Sabe Peace Walkers, said he'd gotten to know Ballantyne, who would often visit the agency's office at 190 Disraeli to have something to eat and to watch TV.

"She would help people even though she needed help," Contois said. "Danielle will be missed … may her spirit fly high and watch over us."

Her uncle, Percy Ballantyne, called on Indigenous leaders to do more to support the many thousands of First Nations members in Canada who live off-reserve. They don't get enough resources, including funding and housing, he said.

"We need to go back to our culture, our value system and be more kinder to one another and support each other as Indigenous people," he said to applause.

A uniformed member of the Winnipeg Police Service and a number of cadets attended the vigil. Several members of Ballantyne's family thanked police for their help.

James Turner/CBC
James Turner/CBC

Her funeral is planned for Tuesday in Misipawistik.

Chief Heidi Cook told CBC in a Friday interview the community is pulling together to support Ballantyne's family. "Obviously it's a shock to lose somebody so suddenly," Cook said.

"Danielle was loved by a lot of people, said Cook. "She did not deserve to die. Whatever was going on in her life there was always hope she would have a good life, find peace."