Christina Voelzing, the 24-year-old Algonquin College victimology student who was killed on Easter Sunday when she leaped in the line of fire to save her roommate, was a passionate advocate for victims of violent crimes.
Her passion for victimology and long-term goal to open a shelter for battered women was fuelled by her own experience as a survivor of abuse.
Christina had written an essay two summers ago that shared her personal story about experiencing assault, how she overcame it and how much she wanted to help others in similar circumstances as part of her application to enter the victimology program at Algonquin College.
"She spent most of her life making sure others around her were okay, just always seeing the best in others," said Jacqueline MacDonald, Christina's best friend for 22 years. “No matter how bad your past was or how you were labelled she could find the best part of you and make that shine."
Jacqueline, 25, grew up with Christina in Barrhaven and the two were often babysat by Jacqueline’s grandmother. They shared lots of sleepovers, lots of dolls, lots of inside jokes, and pretended to be mermaids together.
"We went from Barbies to boyfriends to everything in between," said Jacqueline said. “I'm kind of high-strung and she was always the opposite of that. She kept me grounded.”
Christina was always that person who checked up on her friends when they were going through something difficult and convince them to talk about their problems.
Katie Dumanski, 23, another friend of Christina's, described her as the life of the party but “super down-to-earth” and could make anyone smile.
“She was wild, full of life. Always in a good mood. She had just the most contagious laugh in the world,"Jacqueline said.
Last February, Jacqueline picked Christina up after she had been to the hospital for the assault. She let Christina live with her when she needed it.
It was the least she could do – Christina had been there for her too when she needed it most. At 18, MacDonald found out she was pregnant and felt like her world was crashing down on her but Christina helped her get through it.
“She made feel like it was going to be okay, that we were going to figure it out, that I was going to have a baby and everything was going to be fine,” she said. “I don't know how she did it but she always made it seem like everything was going to be okay.”
Jacqueline has a photo collage of Christina as her cell phone background. Two of them are of Christina cuddling McDonald's young son Isaac, who is now five. Christina came over to play with the Ninja Turtle toys she gave Isaac but he was asleep when she arrived so she climbed into bed with him to snuggle.
Jacqueline's favourite memory of Christina goes back to when she was four or five years old.
“We had this ongoing joke that she wanted to be a mermaid. She got herself trapped in the back seat of her dad's car once because of it. She was pretending the seat belt was seaweed. And her dad had to cut her out,” recalled Jacqueline, laughing.
Jacqueline ’s last conversation with Christina was the day before she was shot. They made plans to get dinner together the next evening.
“Ok, sounds good, see you Sunday,” was the last text she sent Christina. Unfortunately, they never had the chance to get that dinner.
Jacqueline and two other friends got matching winged gem tattoos with Christina’s birth date — Feb. 5, 1992 to remember her. “If our love could have saved you, you would have lived forever” is written beneath the gem.
At Christina's funeral, there were large plastic gems displayed at the box where she was cremated. Jacqueline took one as a souvenir and keeps it with her to remember her best friend. She bought sparklers to use for the times when she is missing Christina.
“She touched so many people,” said Jacqueline said. “The funeral was packed. There was not a seat left. She is missed greatly. But while she was here, I think she made such an impact on everybody that she is just unforgettable.”