The legacy of Cynthia Maas, 35, who was brutally murdered in 2010 by a young serial killer, Cody Alan Legebokoff, 24, lives on in a place of refuge for women called Cindy’s Haven.
Maas, lived at various times at AWAC, a downtown shelter for women. Diane Nakamura, executive director of Association Advocating for Women and Children (AWAC) for the past two years, said Cindy’s death affected everyone who lived there.
“Cindy had been living here when she went missing (in late August or early September 2010.) Her murder had a huge impact on all the women of AWAC. Last year, when the [Legebokoff] trial was about to get underway here, we were asked by women at the shelter who knew or were friends of Cindy’s, if we could rename the wing Cindy’s Haven in her honour and memory.”
A beautifully carved wooden plaque with flowers on it is mounted beside the door of the room where Cindy once stayed. Her violent death – and the ever present danger that lurks for vulnerable women like her who struggle with drug addictions, work in the sex trade or have mental or physical health issues – brings home – literally – the fact all women need a place to stay to be safe.
Maas is one of Legebokoff’s four female victims including Jill Stuchenko, 35, Natasha Montgomery, 23, and Loren Donn Leslie, 15. He was found guilty of first degree murder last week on all four counts by a B.C. Supreme Court jury and sentenced to four concurrent terms of life imprisonment.
Cindy’s Haven provides for seven private rooms on a second floor wing that has other common spaces such as a reading and recreation rooms.
“Some women need support with their life building skills before they can live on their own,” said Nakamura. “We assist women – some are homeless, some of them have had drug or alcohol addictions, or conflicts with the law, some have mental health issues. People with those kind of issues often have a hard time finding housing.”
Women who stay at the residence are over 19 and range in age up to seniors.
Unlike staying in a crowded and more impersonal dorm situation – often the only place available for temporary shelter – each women can have her own private space for belongings.
Two years ago, however, the supportive housing program lost its core government funding. Knowing there is a need for the program in this community, AWAC has continued on with it. The program now relies on tenant contributions, private donations and the organization’s own fundraising efforts to pay the bills and keep it running.
The women who live there are able to pay something but not nearly enough to pay for their stay, says Nakamura. For now, it remains open to women in need. Anyone wanting to know more about the Cindy’s Haven program can phone Nakamura at 250-563-4632.