Coming back to Whistler is never easy for Katy Hutchison.
But next week, Hutchison will return and speak at Whistler Secondary School, after a seven-year absence, to share her story about how peer pressure, misguided choices and alcohol and drug use in an unsupervised setting can lead to disastrous consequences.
But hers is also a story about forgiveness.
Hutchison's life changed forever when her husband Bob McIntosh, a lawyer and international-calibre triathlete, died violently when he went to check on a loud party attended by about 200 young people at the home of a vacationing friend on New Year's Eve 1997.
He was attacked at the party and suffered a fatal brain hemorrhage.
When she lived in Squamish, Hutchison worked for Howe Sound Community Futures and spent a great deal of time working and playing in Whistler so it is one of the toughest places for her to speak, she said.
"I recall that the last time I spoke in Whistler was after I spoke in Squamish which was very emotional," she said. "I found Whistler even more difficult because of the work I did in the community and it was where we went for recreation."
Hutchison will be speaking at WSS at 2 p.m. on Oct.18.
The mother of two university-aged children moved from Squamish to live in Victoria in 1998.
While many victims of violent crimes can become bitter and angry Hutchison took the lessons she learned from McIntosh's death and turned them into a powerful message for youth, parents and anyone trying to deal with senseless tragedy.
Before large crowds of students, Hutchison tells the story of her husband's death and how she forgave the man convicted of McIntosh's death.
"I think I have spoken at 500 high schools," Hutchison said. She conservatively estimates that more than 400,000 people have listened to her presentations around the world.
In her 2006 book, Walking After Midnight , Hutchison describes how some of the people in her life struggled with the way Hutchison dealt with the tragedy.
"I did not want my life or the lives of my children to be defined by Bob's senseless death," Hutchison wrote for Oprah Winfrey's Forgiveness In Action project. "Refusing to be a victim shrouded in hatred and negativity, I chose instead to be inspired by the full and engaged way Bob lived. We moved forward in a positive way and built a new life."
The presentation Hutchison will give on Tuesday is an inter-active multi-media show-and-tell that includes graphic photos and a discussion of the peer pressure and what Hutchison calls misguided choices that led to McIntosh's death.
Many have been inspired by her presentation and her message of forgiveness, restorative justice and the risks young people face when they use drugs and alcohol in unsupervised settings.
"I had one guy that heard me speak in North Vancouver right when I started," Hutchison recalled. "He contacted me in fourth year at university at New Brunswick where he was a resident advisor. He wanted to know if I would come to talk to his university."
The student remembered the impact of the talk and wanted Hutchison to share the message with his university friends.
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