Airdrie women’s group Ladies Out Loud’s (LOL) upcoming guest speaker will recount how her mother’s homicide more than 25 years ago – and processing the trauma that resulted from that tragic incident – ultimately shaped and transformed her life.
On Sept. 10, LOL will facilitate a talk from Sarah Salter-Kelly, an Alberta-based author, speaker and spiritual healer who recently published her first book – Trauma as Medicine.
According to Salter-Kelly, her book – which was in the works for roughly 10 years – recounts the story of her mother Sheila Salter, who was murdered in Edmonton in December 1995 after being abducted from the parkade of her workplace. A well-documented homicide case in Alberta, Salter’s killer, Peter Brighteyes, ultimately committed suicide in prison after being found guilty of murder in the first degree.
“In the book, I am sharing the story of my mother's homicide, among other stories, to utilize as a template, guiding the reader to address their own unresolved grief or trauma,” Salter-Kelly explained. “Throughout the book, I [encourage] journal exercises, ceremonies and meditation that can help to simulate an embodied experience and practice in noticing unresolved grief trauma suffering.”
Salter-Kelly said she spent years processing the trauma she experienced after her mother’s murder – a journey that included exploration of personal growth, restorative justice and earth-based healing traditions. According to her website, she has run a private healing practice for the last 14 years, hosting retreats in Canada and Peru.
On Sept. 10 at 6:30 p.m., Salter-Kelly will talk about her book, as well as the challenging question of how to address grief and trauma, at the Best Western Diamond Room in Airdrie, as part of LOL’s Ladies Talk Out Loud monthly speaker series.
Salter-Kelly said her talk will explore the idea of how to cope with life’s most difficult challenges and traumatic experiences. She called coming to terms with her mother’s murder and even learning to forgive the perpetrator a “lived experience of reconciliation.”
“For me, I eventually needed to understand who this man was and what led him to become the person in the parkade on that fateful December morning,” she said. “How does someone become a murderer? I don't think someone just wakes up one day and says, 'I'm going to be a murderer.' What conditions were in place? It was really important to me to deeply understand these [questions].”
Salter-Kelly's talk will be the September iteration of LOL's monthly Ladies Talk Out Loud series, which seeks to educate and empower local women. According to LOL founder Karen MacDonald, each monthly presenter will be a woman.
“Everyone has stories and there’s always something interesting to learn,” she said.
“It’s a platform for women to share their stories with other women. Of course, we can all relate to some of that.”
Salter-Kelly said she became acquainted with LOL recently, thanks to a distant relative who is a member of the Airdrie-based women's club. She said she is excited to speak in Airdrie, and added her presentation will fit well with LOL's female-focused mandate.
“A lot of my work through the years has been working with women, who specifically have recognized that they haven't been able to use their voice to speak their truth, to live authentically, to have the courage to follow their dreams,” she said.
“So, this very much ties in with that, because what I'm saying is we don't have to be someone other than who we are. We've actually all had the right experiences, inclusive of our challenges. When we find the courage to address these challenges, they actually become a source of our resilience.”
For more information on Salter-Kelly, visit sarahsalterkelly.com
For tickets to her talk in Airdrie ($20 general admission), visit ladiesoutloud.ca/ladiestalkoutloud