Killed weeks apart, these Renfrew County women were honoured on the same day

Flowers and a balloon sit outside 25 Maple St. in Eganville, Ont., where police were called on Jan. 25 and found the body of Lisa Sharpe.  (Stu Mills/CBC - image credit)
Flowers and a balloon sit outside 25 Maple St. in Eganville, Ont., where police were called on Jan. 25 and found the body of Lisa Sharpe. (Stu Mills/CBC - image credit)

Two memorials held just 15 kilometres apart west of Ottawa Saturday stood as a stark reminder of what some have warned is an epidemic of violence against women.

At a Royal Canadian Legion in Petawawa, Ont., family and friends gathered to remember the life of 39-year-old Sommer Boudreau.

Police found Boudreau's body in the rented Deep River, Ont., duplex of Adam Rossi on Dec. 11, 2022. The 41-year-old has since been charged with second-degree murder.

Meanwhile, as snow fell lightly in Pembroke, Ont., on Saturday, mourners streamed inside Murphy Funeral Home & Chapel to pay their respects to 48-year-old Lisa Sharpe.

Sharpe's body was found at her home in Eganville, Ont., on Jan. 25. Her 18-year-old son, Trey Gagnon, has also been charged with second-degree murder.

Guy Quenneville/CBC
Guy Quenneville/CBC

Olivia Picard met Boudreau in the summer of 2021 when their kids started playing together at a park in Deep River.

Picard remembered her Saturday as a "fierce woman" who loved baking and was considering going into business for herself.

"She was just a force," Picard said.

Picard said the convergence of the two memorials, on the same day, in the same county, was a distressing reminder of a larger problem.

Submitted by Olivia Picard
Submitted by Olivia Picard

"Women shouldn't be treated this way by men, period. But men should know better as well. Men aren't superior to women. And right now, it feels like men are trying to take our voices," she said.

Picard said she found the celebration of life — where about 100 people watched a drum circle play a healing song in Boudreau's memory — comforting.

"There were tears and laughs," she said.

Deaths are 'infuriatingly wrong': county warden

Sharpe was an early childhood educator who worked at Ketcha Star Daycare for 25 years, according to a post on the daycare's Facebook page.

"For anyone who is wondering where Lisa is, especially the tiny tots, play the song 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow.' That is where she is now," her obituary read.

Submitted by Emily Petrini-Woolley
Submitted by Emily Petrini-Woolley

Peter Emon, the warden of Renfrew County, said he had friends who knew Sharpe but he refrained from attending Sharpe's visitation.

"The worst thing that can happen is politicians [rush] into a situation, suck all the oxygen out of the room and try and fill it with hot air," he said, adding that the women's deaths were "infuriatingly wrong."

Guy Quenneville/CBC
Guy Quenneville/CBC

Emon was among those who attended the final day of a month-long coroner's inquest last summer, one that looked into the factors behind the deaths of three women murdered by the same man in Renfrew County in September 2015.

He was there to hear the inquest jury read out 86 recommendations on how to prevent similar deaths in the future.

The jury's top recommendation called on the Ontario government to declare intimate partner violence an epidemic — a move since adopted by the neighbouring Lanark County as well as one of the communities within the county, Mississippi Mills.

Guy Quenneville/CBC
Guy Quenneville/CBC

Emon said Renfrew County council plans to do the same this spring, but first wants to complete a review of local services that assist victims of domestic violence.

"If you don't have a plan to go forward, sometimes it falls off the table," he said. "I don't want to just pass a motion and feel good about it for 15 minutes."