Today exactly before 20 years on an unfortunate day, Reena Virk, a 14 year old innocent teen lost her life to bullying.
20 years later, the brutal killing of 14-year-old Reena Virk still resonates as one of the most horrific cases of teen bullying ever witnessed in Greater Victoria.
On a rainy night Nov, 14, 1997, Reena was swarmed and beaten by a group of teens under the Craigflower Bridge. As Reena limped across the bridge, Warren Glowatski, 16, and Kelly Ellard 15, followed her, continued the assault and then drowned her by holding her head under water. Her body was found 8 days later.
Her status as a bullied murder victim attracted substantial media scrutiny in Canada.She was a resident of Saanich, British Columbia, Canada.
Virk has been described as a girl who was desperate for acceptance amongst her peers, but was taunted and/or ostracized by these girls whose subculture was influenced by Los Angeles street gangs.
Six girls were convicted of assault causing bodily harm and Glowatski and Ellard were convicted of second-degree murder.
Warren Glowatski has been released on full parole since 2010 after taking responsibility for Reena’s death. He apologized to Reena’s parents, who forgave him.Warren Glowatski was born April 26, 1981 in Medicine Hat, Alberta.
Kelly Ellard acknowledged her role in the death only last year, but has been denied day parole; she has an upcoming hearing on her second parole request. She now has a baby, who lives with her in an Abbotsford prison.Kelly Ellard, born August 9, 1982, was 15 years old when she and Warren Glowatski drowned Virk.
Reena’s parents Manjit and Suman have dedicated their life to speaking to students about bullying and inclusion. Reena’s murder has inspired several programs that promote non-violent conflict resolution.
Since then, the Virks are frequent speakers in elementary and high schools, sharing Reena’s story with youngsters in the hopes of preventing another tragedy.
Ms. Virk says, “Our main message is: When someone is being bullied, or you’re being bullied, speak out about it because if one person had made a phone call that night … things could have been very different. Kids learn that from our story.”
The Virks also work with a provincial program that puts victims of violence in touch with perpetrators, the same program that brought the Virks to forgive Mr. Glowatski at a healing circle in 2007 in support of his day parole.