Gone, but not forgotten
For years she shadowed her older brother, living in fear she would lose him – just like the others.
Her life was ravaged by loss, starting with her father’s death when she was eight years old.
Four years later, she had a baby, who died.
Five years after that, her oldest brother Ken, a bipolar schizophrenic, disappeared. Another brother believes the “Fraser River has him.”
The personal turmoil became too much for young Janice Brown, who began to experience psychotic episodes of her own. At 17, she was institutionalized at Riverview, diagnosed with manic depression and paranoid schizophrenia.
She was medicated and treated surgically.
The medication helped quell the psychosis, which came in episodes during which she would cry about a lifetime of pain and loss.
Periodically – especially after self-medicating by smoking marijuana – those episodes would re-emerge.
Like a “skipping record,” says her brother Ed, Janice would “relive it, relive it, relive it.”
Grasping for some modicum of normalcy, Janice married at age 18, taking on the surname Shore, and went on to have three children.
But the losses kept piling up.
Because of her fragile mental condition, the kids were taken and put into government care when they were quite young.
Not much later, the marriage collapsed, and Janice was back living in Whalley with Ed, who says she wouldn’t leave his side.
“It’s like she already missed me for a lifetime,” Ed says, adding his sister felt pain far more acutely anyone he knew.
Janice had small slivers of a normal childhood – time spent in Brownies and enjoyment with a large circle of friends when she was young.
“She was fun-loving kid, so curious,” remembers Ed (pictured at left).
However, those moments were rare, and for Janice, darker forces started prevailing as early as age14, when some of her symptoms of mental illness emerged.
Janice developed a dependency on street drugs and helped make ends meet by panhandling, usually along King George Boulevard, between 100 and 108 Avenues.
Ed thinks she chose panhandling as a method of income because she really wanted to be near people.
Janice regularly visited several social service agencies in Whalley, including NightShift Street Ministries and Surrey Urban Mission Society, where she received meals.
She had an easy smile and was too kind to make enemies, but as it turns out, the streets can be a mean place nonetheless.
Between 10:30 and 11 p.m., on Dec. 1, 2012, Janice told Ed she was going to the Flamingo Hotel to “get some tobacco,” meaning she’d collect butts from the street that her brother and her could re-roll and smoke.
She was later seen by some people who knew her on Whalley’s notorious “strip,” on 135A Street at about 106 Avenue between 2:30 a.m. and 3 a.m. on Dec. 2.
She didn’t come home.
On Sunday afternoon, Dec. 2, Janice was found partially clothed and severely beaten at an empty lot in Whalley.
She was hospitalized and clung fiercely to life for more than two months.
On Feb. 18, the 45-year-old succumbed to her injuries.
“Sunshine,” as she was affectionately called, was deeply loved by those who knew her, Ed says.
Her death rattled Surrey to its core, and prompted a city councillor to call for a review of services that may have failed Janice prior to her death.
“It is important to make sure that there are some measurable outcomes on the type of services that are made available by taxpayers’ dollars,” Coun. Barinder Rasode said.
Rasode will be meeting with Coun. Judy Villeneuve, chair of the city’s task force on housing and homelessness, Aileen Murphy, Surrey’s social planner and other stakeholders on April 10 to examine what was available to Shore before she was killed. It is the first of what is expected to be several meetings by the review committee.