‘She was a star for us’: Friends and colleagues mourn death of Calgary woman in random stabbing

The friends and family of Vanessa Ladouceur are speaking out to honor the life of the 31-year-old who was killed in a senseless random attack in the Beltline on Friday.

Vanessa Ladouceur is being remembered for always being there for people she cared about including the vulnerable and those in need.

“We are still in shock and can’t believe that she’s gone,” said her brother-in-law Tony Esteves on Tuesday.

“She never hesitated to support another person. She was incredibly intelligent, ridiculously funny, joyful, loving,” added Esteves.

Family and former co-workers say she was walking to work for a job she loved in the fitness industry when she was attacked on 10th Avenue southwest around 6:30 am

Calgary Police say she was targeted at random. First responders could not revive her and she later died of stab wounds.

“She fought for her life, (and) despite first responders’ efforts she passed away at the scene as a security guard held her hand. We’ve not yet met that person and we are so grateful she was there,” said Esteves.

PROFESSIONAL FITNESS

Ladouceur was an accomplished fitness professional working as the general manager of a corporate site for Heavens Fitness and The Academy. She also held roles as a yoga instructor, personal trainer and group fitness leader.

“She was a star for us,” co-owner Helen Vanderburg told CTV News on Tuesday.

“She was young and passionate and wanted to learn. (Vanessa was) absolutely a people-person, just so friendly and had a magnetism, people were attracted to her,” she added.

After starting with the fitness company in September of 2021, Vanderburg said she observed her particular gift for welcoming new clients and trainees, and had so much potential.

Upon learning that Ladouceur had been attacked shortly before a shift, shock reverberated through the close-knit company.

“It’s hard to fathom, (she was just) walking to work and there’s no reason for it,” said Vanderburg.

Ladouceur was also a member of other fitness studios in Calgary, including Stax Cycle Club in Inglewood.

“She was a kind and warm soul with an incredible love for health, wellness and uplifting those around her,” said Emily Paton, co-founder of the indoor cycling spin studio.

“It’s truly incomprehensible seeing her face posted on news articles and social media posts. I think the entire community is feeling the raw heartache of this event along with feelings of shock and anger that something like this could happen in our city, our community,” she added.

Ladouceur regularly attended spin workout classes with Jared Bautista, who said the two became best friends in 2017, but also attended junior high at Harold Panabaker School.

Bautista said he enjoyed his love for cooking, nutrition, health and wellness.

“I think she really taught me how to really have fun in life and to not take things too seriously. She just lived an adventurous life and I think that’s a quality that I will forever remember about her,” said Bautista, a photographer who also his friend to model when encouraged she could.

However, it was her friendship and loyalty that he says set her apart from everyone.

“I think that’s what makes her happy is seeing people grow. I’ll miss that about her,” said Bautista.

CARED DEEPLY ABOUT PEOPLE LIVING ON THE STREET

Ladouceur’s family said she cared deeply about people living on the street and would often buy people a meal, socks and gloves.

“She knew homeless people by name and would tell us the amazing stories that she learned from having spoken to them,” said Esteves.

He added those who wish to can honor her life by making a donation to a homeless shelter, as she would want to spread kindness through the community.

The family and some of the Calgary fitness community say they intend to organize fundraising events in her honor for charities she was passionate about, including helping people experiencing homelessness.

A public celebration of life memorial services has been planned for Leyden’s funeral home for March 28th at 1:00 pm

Michael John Adenyi, 26, has been charged with first degree murder and is due in court again on March 30th.

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