New scholarship honours memory of slain Saint John dentist

Friends of Cindy McCormick, the mother of two and Saint John dentist who was murdered in 2017, will honour her memory this June when they hand out $2,500 scholarships to two students graduating from Nackawic High School.

The winning candidates don't have to be straight A students, said Sheri Sutherland, a member of the selection committee.

Instead, she said, the applicants must maintain a 70 per cent average and demonstrate the kind of creative spark and fun-loving spirit that McCormick embodied to everyone who knew her.

"Cindy saw the smart in everybody," said Jennifer Gordon, who is also a member of the Cindy McCormick Memorial Foundation.

Applicants are also expected to demonstrate that they are altruistic and friendly to all and write an essay explaining the importance of giving back to the community.

Students are told to remember that humour is key.

"Cindy loved a good laugh," says the application form.

Part of the healing

Gordon was one of the first to speak out about the loss of her friend, spelling out what the RCMP would never say on the record — that McCormick was the victim of a murder-suicide.

RCMP would only confirm that the 46-year-old McCormick's body was discovered at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise on the afternoon of Oct. 22, 2017.

Submitted/Cindy McCormick Memorial Foundation

That same day, police said Robert Kaine's body was found in a vehicle west of Lake Louise. They described his death as non-criminal and they said they were not pursuing any suspects in McCormick's death.

"When I first talked to you folks, I was really angry," said Gordon, recalling the interview she gave to CBC News in which she described Kaine's relationship with McCormick as "almost obsessive" and "controlling."

"I probably shouldn't have spoken to anybody," she said, admitting that it later made her a target for criticism by some of Kaine's supporters.

Gordon, McCormick and Kaine all grew up in Nackawic and Gordon said the tragedy was in some ways, divisive.

Bayside Dental Clinic/IAFF Local 771

She says it was painful to see some of Kaine's friends and family posting on social media that they chose to remember him in a fashion that denied "his crime," as Gordon put it.

There are parts of society that still want to believe victims are somehow responsible.

"'She must have done something, she must have provoked it, it takes two' — these are all things that we've heard," Gordon said. "But there is no excuse for putting your hands on a woman or a woman putting her hands on a man. 

"If you love somebody, you cherish and protect them, you don't hurt them."

Scholarship legacy

Sutherland says the plan for the scholarship is to keep it going in perpetuity and to have McCormick's teenage children take it over, if and when they're ready.

At this year's Festival on the Bend, formerly known as Nackawic Community Days, there will be a Mr. Nackawic pageant on Aug. 17.

Proceeds will go to the scholarship fund.

Previous fundraising efforts have included fudge sales, a silent auction and a screening of Last in League, a movie by Quispamsis filmmaker Gretchen Kelbaugh.

It featured members of the Moms in Gear hockey team, including McCormick.

CBC

Filming ended six weeks before McCormick left for Alberta for what was supposed to be a wonderful trip, said Gordon.

Sutherland said McCormick would be proud of the bonds her friends have maintained in her absence.

They get together more often than before and try to focus on the positive, even though the grief does linger.

"Sometimes when we all get together, it's the most joyous time," said Gordon. "But I still have to leave the room."

The deadline for the Cindy McCormick Memorial Scholarships is May 23.