MMIW Series: Hilary Bonnell

Hilary Bonnell/Photo courtesy of Pamela Marie Fillier

Pamela Marie Fillier says she would ask her daughter what she wanted to do when she grew up, and Hilary would say, “I don’t know, mom. I’m still a kid.”

Hilary Bonnell was a “regular teenager” who was kind hearted, funny and beautiful, Fillier says of her only daughter.

“The last Christmas we had together, she had said she didn’t even know what to ask for because she had everything. It made me feel so good to hear that from her,” says Fillier.

Hilary, from the Esgenoopetitj First Nation in New Brunswick, disappeared on Sept. 5, 2009. She was murdered by her cousin Curtis Bonnell, who sexually assaulted her and buried her body.

Fillier says her daughter was brave.

Hilary loved swimming and would go tubing down a river with her family. At 15, she jumped off a bridge into the water.

She liked lots of music, including older bands like the Rolling Stones, but not country music. Hilary and her mother would sing together and karaoke.

Hilary had many friends. She didn’t like it when her mother told her to get offline because it was a school night.

She also loved the food her mother and stepfather cooked for her. Baby clams wrapped in bacon, lobster and Doritos were her favourite foods.

But her most favourite dish was poutine from Raymonds restaurant. “She was so small but she could eat a family size poutine,” says Fillier.

When Hilary’s friends graduated from high school, it was a reminder for Fillier of all of the things her daughter would never get to experience.

She wonders what Hilary’s life would’ve been like. Would she be married? Would she have children? Would she be happy?

Editor’s Note: This news story is part of a series of features stories produced by the digital reporting workshop class (The Signal website) at the University of King’s College School of Journalism in partnership with

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About Sixian Zuo 1 Article
Sixian (Margaret) Zuo is an International student from China currently enrolled in the journalism program at the University of King's College. Before enrolling at King's, Zuo previously earned a degree in communications in her home country. A good listener, Zuo wants to tell stories and help people tell their own stories.