Photography by Gary MooreThe Vernon Massacre. On April, 5th 1996, Mark Chahal, a gun club member, calmly walked into a house in Vernon, British Columbia, Canada and shot to death his estranged wife Rajwar Gakhal, her sister, the bride to be and seven of her relatives from the Saran family. Two others were wounded. A then 6-year-old girl, Brittany Saran, witnessed the massacre. Chahal then drove a rental van to his motel room and killed himself after writing a short apology.
One of the most horrific mass murders in Canada raised questions regarding the connection between ethnicity, religion, culture and family violence.
Out of the horror of this event questions arose about the way the RCMP processed the murderer's gun application and about the way police handle reports of violence against women in relationships.
The massacre of the Gakhal and Saran families in Vernon, BC, brought to the forefront, once again, the horror of violence against women and children. It also signified how societal systems fail to protect women from abusive partners.