Humanist Perspectives: issue 152: An Interview with Evelyn Martens

An Interview with Evelyn Martens
by Gary Bauslaugh

How are you feeling now, two and a half months after the trial ended?

The whole thing took a lot out of me — it affected me more than I thought it would. For a while I felt like crawling into hole somewhere, but then I realized I was just being a big sissy. I am feeling better now that I have most of my things back from the RCMP. [Earlier that day Evelyn picked up a van full of her possessions, including her computer, which had been in the Duncan police station for two and a half years.] I am going to Greece with my friend Brenda Hurn in the spring.

If you don’t mind thinking about it all again, can you tell me how you were treated by the police.

Well as you know Corporal Bate was at the Station when we went to get my things back, and he was very courteous then. But after I was arrested he was very irate. He and Corporal Pearson took me upstairs and I guess Bate was the bad cop. I was arrested at about 5:30 and was given nothing to eat or drink until after midnight when they gave me some water. The Sydney police were not bad, fairly polite, but they did not give me any food and I got very thirsty as the cell was very hot.

Were you very upset?

I was but I didn’t show it. I felt sick for my family and friends — to think that my actions would have a bad effect on them.

And then they transported you around, at times I understand in shackles.

I was driven to Duncan that night, then back to Victoria for the next night, and then was flown to Burnaby Women’s Prison the next day. While being transported to the airport and while flying I was in hand cuffs and leg shackles. The vehicles they drove me in had very hard bare metal everywhere, and sometimes there were other prisoners as well. I was in Burnaby for a few days, because of the long weekend and the difficulty in arranging bail.

How were you treated at the Women’s Prison?

It was fine. The guards were polite and I had my own cell. It was my first time in a prison ward, and the other women in the prison were serving sentences for various crimes. But they were all good to talk to and no one was mean. So the guards were good and the convicts were friendly. People don’t talk about why they are in there, but one of them knew about me.

What was the worst thing about being arrested and jailed?

I couldn’t talk to my friends or family. I couldn’t call my daughter to tell her I had been arrested and wouldn’t be coming home, though at some point I think a member of the Sidney Detachment let her know. And I didn’t like being shackled — I had a hard time getting up the steps to the plane. They did try in Sidney and Nanaimo, on the way back from Burnaby, to intimidate and demoralize me.

And in the jail cell in the detachments the toilet in the room is right in line with the surveillance camera. Then after I was released they still came into my home every week, and I had to report in every two weeks, and I had to get permission to travel.

Why did they do all of this to you?

Some years earlier a woman in Ireland, Rosemary O’Toole, had contacted me about where to get an exit bag, and asked if I would come and be with her when she ended her life. I couldn’t do that but she found a man in West Virginia who would travel to be with people, and he went over. Subsequently, after she died, the police got my name and the man’s name off Rosemary’s computer. They gave the police here my name, and they began to investigate, thinking that this was an international conspiracy. So when they found out about Monique, whom they thought had not been ready to die, they decided to take action.

Were you very worried about the verdict?

I had been worried about the Judge’s attitude. I understand he wanted this case, and he seemed very unfavourable to us most of the time, so this looked bad. But his charge to the jury was a big surprise. Still, I had no idea what would happen. I had steeled myself about going to jail and I was ready for it. I’d take courses, and do lots of things.