May, 2020

Sentencing for the Maple Batalia Case Brings Even Reporters to Tears

It was a bittersweet morning for family and friends of Maple Batalia as the sentencing for the case was finally revealed: Gurjinder (Gary) Dhaliwal is to serve life in prison with the chance to apply for parole in 21 years.
It is a telling moment when even reporters shed tears hearing stories about a girl who left such a sweet mark on so many lives. Those who knew Maple had a chance to give victim impact statements in front of the judge, the media, and Gary himself.
Although we will continue to ask “why?” the question of “will there ever be justice?” finally had the chance to be answered. Today marks the day that Maple’s family and friends saw justice come through.
Roseleen Batalia was one of the first to speak.
Your honour, Sept 28th, 2011, was a day that changed my life forever. I never thought that it would be the last day I saw my sister. I remember seeing her just a couple hours before she was so happy little did I know the same place I hugged her and said bye would be the same place she would lose her life. I remember being told that night that Maple was hurt never imagining that she was fighting for her life.

I remember sitting in a room at the hospital not knowing what happened to her and not even being able to see her in her last moments. I never thought that anyone could ever hurt Maple like this. Maple was an integral part of our family she was working hard towards her goals of becoming successful. She was an amazing sister, daughter and friend. Maple was the most kind hearted human being I had the pleasure of growing up with.Nobody could love us as much as she did. She had a genuine concern for others. And everyone she came across in her short life speaks so highly of the pure heart she had and how kind she was and how much she helped others. She had so many dreams and aspirations in life that she did not get to see through. Gary not only did your actions take a way Maple’s life you destroyed so many other lives in the process.No parent wants to outlive their child, no sister wants to grow old without the security of having her sister around. Not only do we mourn Maple, everyone she knew and met is deeply impacted by the loss of her life. But Gary you may have taken her life but you cannot take away the legacy she left behind and the lives she touched. Her name will live on in our hearts, her life will not go in vain. No matter the punishment you get it will never bring her back. The crime you have committed is unforgivable and I hope that each and every day of the rest of your life you are reminded of what you have done.

We have waited over 4 years for justice and went through agony each and every day. We were constantly reminded of the night you took her away. Our family has not been able to grieve as we have had no closure. Even today, I wonder why? What did she do to deserve this. She tried so hard in all those years to help you, to change you to make you a better person. She put up with all the bad things you put her through and when she finally had enough and tried to walk away it cost her life. I don’t understand why you thought you had the right to decide when her life ends. How you decided you would take her away from everyone who loved her so much. You have a sister yet had no concern that she was someone’s sister too.

There were so many events in our lives that Maple could not be a part of especially my wedding day. Instead of experiencing happiness I felt grief realizing she could not be a part of my special day. There were so many dreams we talked about as kids that are now how fulfilled. She took with her so many ambitions and plans that we shared together. Gary, Maple wanted to come home that night she never got the chance to because you decided to play God and ended her life. She had done nothing wrong to deserve what happened to her. The way you took her life away people do not even do that to an animal. You made sure nothing was left of her.

No amount of punishment will ever bring her back but it was important for us to see justice through. You may have physically taken Maple away but you cannot take away the legacy she left and the many lives she touched she will always be alive in those who loved her.

Childhood friend, Michelle Cyr, had this to say:

As I’m writing this, March 4th is fast approaching which in the past would normally be a day of celebration, but is now a dark reminder that Maple is gone because we shared the same birthday. It’s confusing for me, how I should respond to someone who tells me “happy birthday” when I feel there is nothing to be happy about. It’s another year of no smiles, laughter or memories with my best friend.

Maple was my childhood friend since she was 11 years old. We’ve had many years of building memories, witnessing and supporting each others life struggles, teaching, inspiring, encouraging, and learning from one another. She was there for me when I needed a place to escape from the world.

I have so many fond memories of Maple. One of them was the time she accidentally broke my paint brush. She felt so bad and assured me she would fix it. She took the broken pieces home. The next day she brought it back, not only were the two pieces back together but she decorated it with a pink bow and tiny jewelry. She not only fixed my brush, but she made it even better, putting care and thought into it. To this day I still have and cherish it. She always tried to live her life going the extra mile to do what she can for others.

One of the things that made our bond so solid was our genuine interest in learning and teaching each other. Maple was brilliant, she was always so eager to learn and not only in the academics. She would ask me to pass on my knowledge and teach her random things I knew. Maple in turn was always excited to share what she learned. When she found out I loved learning modeling and acting from her she not only encouraged me, but took action to help me get started on a career path. We built dreams to make it big together. We would encourage and support each other to progress our interest and strive to achieve our goals. Not a lot of people would put so much time and energy in wanting to help others with out expecting anything in return. That was something I really appreciated from her, and I was willing to do the same back. I just hope she realized that before her passing.

Four and a half years has passed since the day where YOUR actions, have changed my life forever. Maple wasn’t just my best friend, she was one of my biggest supporters and main positive influence I had in my life. Losing her was losing a member in my family, a sister. I would know because I lost my father back when I was 13. But with the loss of my father, who was battling cancer, I had time to make my peace in saying goodbye. What happen to Maple was sudden and unexpected. There was no time to say goodbye or an opportunity of any sort to have closure.

To this day the pain I suffer has affected me very harshly, I can only imagine how much more difficult it is on the family. I try to be strong by holding my emotions back and not to think about her loss. But like pressure building in a bottle the point comes when it has to burst. I sometimes break down crying, either at work, driving, or when I’m alone.

Court dates have been, and still are difficult to attend. When hearing the events that led up to her passing, it opens old wounds. This is emotionally tolling, but also physically exhausting having to compromise my responsibilities and what is important to me. I want to be able to attend every possible date to support the family and be there to honor Maple, but it conflicts with work and school. The unpredictability of court frustrates me, having to take time off work or school to show up for ten minutes only to hear the date has been pushed back, and then possibly missing important days that count to show my support. Its hard to choose when I can afford to miss a days pay or a class lecture.

I am always find myself drained by questions that I can’t answer. WHY did it come to this? WHAT IF something was done differently? HOW could have we prevented this? A part of me wants to have these questions answered. Maybe some of them COULD be answered by you. But at the same time the answers would be too late to change anything and would never justify what happened.

The loss of Maple has made it difficult for me to connect with people. A part of me wants to fill the emptiness that I have, but in no way do I want to replace what I have lost. I feel that I have this wall built in front of me. I can’t help but feel alone because this big piece of my heart is missing and it affects my other relationships; with family, my boyfriend, friends and co-workers. This loss is going to have to follow me for the rest of my life. I know my pain will never truly heal, I will only learn to adjust to reality, life will forever be without Maple. So many lives have been ruined, but all we can do now is try to honor her by keeping the good memories alive.

Another childhood friend, Natalie Sheck, had this to say:

I have been close friends with Maple Batalia since kindergarten. Her family and my family were close as well. Witnessing such kind and honest people like her family go through agony was devastating. Losing her was the most painful thing that I have ever experienced. Maple and I shared a passion for art. We took advanced placement art class together in grade 12. We would always get together and paint and create and have in depth conversations about the universe. We talked about ways that we could make the world a better place through art. Maple was the kindest person that I have ever known. She had a feisty personality and an incredibly witty sense of humor. She always had a way of making me laugh harder than anyone ever has. Her beauty was not only physical, she had a beautiful mind and a radiant soul.

I was 18 years old and in my second year at Emily Carr University when Maple was taken on that cold night in September. I was woken up in the wee hours of the morning on September 28, 2011 with text messages from a friend saying that Maple had been shot. I was in disbelief and didn’t think it could possibly be her. I stayed up all night praying, with a foreboding sense of grief. When I saw the morning news, and it stated that there had been a homicide, I knew she was gone. I missed school that day. I was in full time classes and my grades that year were greatly impacted. It was hard to focus on anything after that night. Seeing my beautiful friend, once full of vitality and laughter, laying pale and lifeless in the open casket on her funeral, will forever be imprinted into my mind.

Hearing her mother screaming in torment as the casket holding her daughter’s precious body was taken to the next room for cremation haunted me. It traumatized me to the core and ripped away the youthful sense of immortality that I had at 18 years old. I became extremely depressed and developed anxiety. I had a hard time understanding how the world could continue on day by day without Maple Batalia in it. I tried to be strong and stay in my classes, I pushed through because I knew she wouldn’t want me to give up. I would break down emotionally almost every day, thinking about that beautiful little angel that filled my heart with so much joy throughout my life. I realized that no more memories would be made with her. I would try to think about every memory I have ever shared with her, as if trying to collect them in my mind, cherishing them as the last.

Maple illuminated a bright light into this dark world. She wanted to make the world a better place, and she would have done it. Her death was like stomping on a flower right before it blooms. She had powerful ambition, determination, and always put action towards her goals. She had a strong sense of herself and knew what she wanted in life, but she was very unselfish. She was a strong woman that thought she could handle everything on her own. She had a passion for helping others, which is why she was an aspiring doctor. She wanted to help others so much, but she never wanted to ask for help. Maple will be forever remembered as a beautiful soul that radiated love and kindness. Her life was a gift to those that had the honor of loving her. I will be forever changed by the light that she gave. Her laughter was as contagious as her beauty and strength. She has made an impact on this world, and her legacy will live on forever. She inspires people to be better, to help others, to be unselfish and kind. A light as bright as Maple’s cannot be put out. Love does not die, it is immortal. Sometimes I can feel her radiant energy shining down. Maple Batalia will live on eternally, through the loving memories, and through all the good that she did.

Today marks the day Maple Batalia’s killer is finally held accountable for his horrific crime, a day of triumph for the Batalia family as they continue to remember and honor the memory of their sweet little girl.

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