Monument to Amber Kirwan unveiled

Amy MacKenzie
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Morgan Curley remembers her friend, Amber Kirwan, as she looks at the monument for Kirwan, who went missing last year. Her body was found later in Heathbell. The monument was unveiled during a memorial ceremony on the anniversary of her disappearance. Amy MacKenzie – The News

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.

Organizations: RCMP, Creative Metals, Investors Group Supreme Court

Geographic location: NEW GLASGOW, Pictou County, Heathbell

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Recent comments

  • Happy
    October 12, 2012 - 10:00

    NO point in worrying about it now.... it's done. I'm just happy for all the pigeons who will have something new to crap on.

  • westville
    October 10, 2012 - 17:10

    Oh my can people please let this rest , be kind to each other , the monument is for all those dear souls , did all who is complaining do any leg work or offer to, not likley .and if someone want another monument for thier loved ones , well start working on it , as you can see it takes long hrs ,get real

    • keep it in the cemetery
      October 11, 2012 - 16:05

      While Ms. Kirwan's disappearance and the discovery of her body last fall was indeed unfortunate, and I hope that the perpetrator(s) are brought to justice, this move to ''mass grieving'' or ''community grieving'' has got to stop - put a memorial like this in the cemetery where she is buried next to her grave. Memorials like this to specific victims of violence have no place in a public space. It isn't a war memorial or a miners memorial, etc. A more fitting use of all this time and effort would have been for that money and volunteer time be given to the local women's shelter where women and children are trying to escape violence every day. This stone and metal monument is certainly tangible but it does nothing to honour Ms. Kirwan in a useful way and is just trying to satisfy the egos of some community members.

  • Trenton resident
    October 10, 2012 - 16:40

    I agree with "good try" this is and always was a monument for Amber. It was only after the article appeared and there were so many comments made about it being unfair to other missing persons/murder victims of Pictou County did Mariea Leila Bowser add it was for everyone. The News makes it even harder to believe this monument is for everyone when the headline reads "Monument to Amber Kirwin unveiled". What a slap in the face this is to other families in Pictou County who have senselessly lost a loved one.

  • Jeff
    October 10, 2012 - 14:19

    It should be a general monument to bring attention to unsolved crimes. They shouldn't have singled out one crime. I am glad I left pictou county, its too clicky of a place.

    October 10, 2012 - 09:26

    The additional caption "For all the women, men and children who have lost their lives to senseless tragedy." was nothing but an afterthought, unfortunately. It is AMBER'S monument and not for everyone. My feeling on this is it is an opportunity for Mariea Leil Bowser to show how much she cared for a girl that she may have met once and to say "hey look at me i care more than everyone else". Yes it was a tradegy,yes it brought the community together but to make amber the face of crime in pictou county is wrong.

  • PictouCountyResident
    October 10, 2012 - 07:44

    Pictou County Resident! Did you not read the article? The monument is dedicated to ALL Men Women and Children who lost their lives to senseless tragedy. Really tired of people making this monument an attack on other crime victims. A group of people got together and put a plan into motion to erect a monument to honor a child that was murdered and in doing so, they dedicated it to ALL crime victims. Being a family member of another murdered child in Pictou County, I find it very nice that it was dedicated to ALL, and I'm not going to sit and complain that it's not solely for him.If other families and citizens are insulted by this monument, then take a page from what this group did, put in the time and leg work and get one one done, instead of complaining to social media about it!

    • frank
      October 10, 2012 - 19:25

      why are you refering to her as a child? She was an adult who was abducted walking from a bar, not kid napped from the playground.

  • pictou county citizen
    October 09, 2012 - 22:01

    when is the monument for Ed Phalen to be unveiled?