NEW GLASGOW – Morgan Curley looks at the screen of her camera as she frames a photo of a large stone memorial of her murdered friend.
It was about this time a year ago when Curley last talked to Amber Kirwan and now, after attending a ceremony to unveil a monument in her friend’s honour, she returns to get a picture of it without the crowd.
“I’m glad something has been erected so her friends have a place to go and remember her,” she said.
There are no tears, she is happy her friend is being remembered by her community in a special way.
“She was a good friend of mine. I was with her at Dooly’s the night she went missing,” she said.
Curley was one of many who attended the unveiling of a monument for Kirwan, a 19-year old woman who went missing on Oct. 9, 2011 – one year before the service.
The monument has a large iron gate with the shape of a heart in the centre, a photograph of Kirwan with "Amber Kirwan Pictou County's Angel" imprinted on the photo and an engraving in the monument that says "For all the women, men and children who have lost their lives to senseless tragedy."
“I think it’s really nice that it’s not only for her, but for anyone who has lost someone,” Curley said of the monument.
New Glasgow Mayor Barrie MacMillan described it as a place of reflection inspired by the tragic loss and also a place of remembrance to others who have lost their lives through acts of violence.
“It is a lovely tranquil place that represents a community coming together in the face of great sorrow and has been established through the generosity of many citizens and businesses,” MacMillan said. “Pictou County is no stranger to such acts of kindness and compassion.”
Darren Martin, owner of Creative Metals, built and donated the monument while other partners include Kris Stewart who did the stonework for the base of the monument and the masonry work was done by MacIvor and Stewart Masonry. Granite portions were provided by Robert Simpson from Arsenault Monuments and the two benches on the site were provided by the Leil family and Investors Group. All the landscaping, including flowers and greenery, were donated by Proudfoots Home Hardware.
A private citizens committee oversaw the construction and design of the monument.
During the unveiling of the designs for the monument in July, Mariea Leil-Bowser, a member of the private citizens committee, said the Samson Trail was chosen because the committee felt it was a quiet place to reflect on a young girl’s life and pay tribute to a community that came together in a time of darkness.
Kirwan left Dooly's Pool Hall in New Glasgow on Oct. 9, 2011, and disappeared a short time later.
An extensive search that included the New Glasgow Police Service, the RCMP, Pictou County Search and Rescue and rescue teams from fire departments throughout the county as well as local residents took place in Pictou County.
On Nov. 6, the search came to a sad end when RCMP and New Glasgow Police Service officials confirmed that Kirwan's remains were found in Heathbell, Pictou County, and immediately launched a homicide investigation.
On May 17 charges were made in connection with the case. Twenty-nine-year-old Chris Alexander Falconer was arraigned on a first-degree murder charge that allegedly took place between Oct. 9 and Nov. 5 and a kidnapping charge that allegedly occurred on Oct. 9 at or near New Glasgow. Falconer was arrested on May 16 at Dorchester Penitentiary where he is serving time for a parole violation in connection with a second-degree murder conviction unrelated to the Kirwan homicide. Beginning on Feb. 11, 2013, 15 days have been set aside for a preliminary hearing that will determine if there is enough evidence to bring the charges to trial before a Supreme Court judge and jury.