Dona Cadman to speak alongside mother of her son’s killer

Community Justice Initiative fundraising gala happens Nov. 2 at Newlands Golf and Country Club in Langley

Dona Cadman

Dona Cadman first met Supriya Deas in a courthouse under the worst circumstances.

Cadman’s son, Jesse, 16, had been murdered by Deas’ son Isaac, 16, in a random beating and stabbing in Surrey.

Almost 20 years later, in a meeting facilitated by staff from Langley’s Community Justice Initiatives’ (CJI’s) Victim Offender Mediation Program, the two moms spoke again. It’s through this meeting, the two have found healing, hope and peace after a long journey.

Dona and Supriya will tell their stories together at CJI’s annual fundraising gala “In This Together,” at Newland’s Golf and Country Club on Friday, Nov. 2.

The event includes a raffle, buffet dinner and the inspirational story these two moms will tell about what life was like after Jesse was murdered and Isaac was sentenced to life in prison.

Cadman, an MP for Surrey North from 2008 to 2011, spoke on behalf of her son’s killer getting parole at a hearing in 2011. Cadman asked to meet with Deas through CJI, whose main role is to offer restorative justice in some of B.C.’s worst crimes.

On Oct. 18, 1992, Jesse Cadman was fatally stabbed by 16-year-old Isaac Deas while walking home from a bus stop. It was an unprovoked attack. Before the stabbing, Isaac and his friends had been doing drugs and drinking and when one of them saw Jesse walking on the other side of the street, they decided to rush over and start beating him.

The beating escalated.

Isaac pulled out a knife and stabbed Jesse in the back, piercing his heart and lung.  The youths fled, leaving Jesse to die on the side of the road.

Police arrested Isaac a few days later.

He convicted of second degree murder.  Throughout the trial, there was never a reason given for the murder.

There was no reason for the senseless act of violence.  There was also no evidence of remorse, said the Cadmans and others who were in the courtroom.

Two years ago Jesse’s sister Jodi spoke at CJI’s fundraising event.  The evening was profoundly moving as she shared her story about coming to meet and forgive her brother’s killer, said Sandi Bergen, co-director of CJI who facilitated that meeting between Jodi and Isaac.

“We videotaped their meeting and later I showed that video to Dona, but she only could watch half of it,” said Bergen. For Jodi, the meeting was profoundly healing because she could hear his remorse and better understand why he was so cold during the trial.

He said he was told by adults to not say anything, said Bergen.

The video did make an impact on Dona, who phoned Bergen months later asking to meet with Deas herself to talk about what happened during the trial.

Funds raised from the Nov. 2 gala go to support CJI initiatives.

Doors open at 6 p.m., with dinner at 7 p.m. For tickets call 604-534-5515.

Tickets are $65 or $495/table of 8, or go to

Below is a touching, must-read letter Deas’ mom wrote about the shocking turn of events when she and her son met with Dona Cadman for the first time.


Two mothers,  that’s what we were… two mothers, alone with our pain.  Not to say we didn’t have people  around  us, we did. When the jury went into deliberation we could hear the quiet chatter of the reporters, police  officers, family and friends echoing  in a void we could not touch.

And then, one by one the people disappeared up the hall, looking for coffee and a bite to eat. In the awkward silence the victim’s mother and I found ourselves standing alone on opposite sides of the corridor. I went over to her; the one whose son my own had killed.

They were only sixteen … the thoughts  in my mind went round and round, searching for some understanding, some reason why life had taken our two sons so young. Holding out my arms I approached the fragile woman with caution.

“We’re in this together.”, I whispered.

The grieving mother hugged me back and then quickly released my embrace. “I must go.”, she whispered. “My family will be coming back soon and they won’t understand.”

Within the hour we were called back into the courtroom and the judge announced the verdict.

“Guilty”, he said. “Ten to life.”

That night I cried myself to sleep. Brutal scenes from prison movies  and stories  of rape and violence flashed through my mind as the relent less sobs racked my body with grief. Towards morning I had a dream. The victim’s mother was leaning over my bed compassionately holding out her arms to give me a hug.

“We’re in this together.” she said, and I awoke with my arms reaching high in the air.

It was almost twenty years later before I saw the woman again. She had come for my son’s parole hearing and was waiting for the proceed ings to begin. Over the past several months,

a mediator from the Restorative Opportunities Program had been helping my son communicate with her and her daughter through a series of letters. When the daughter agreed to meet with my son, two ladies from the program filmed

their healing exchange and then brought it to my house for a private viewing. They also showed it to the victim’s mother  who lived across  the country, near her daughter.

After watching the video, the victim’s mother was so touched by the changes she saw in my son that she offered to speak on his behalf at his parole hearing. She also asked to meet privately with us after the hearing. It was during this time that the two Restorative Opportunities mediators helped  the victim’s mother  and my son speak openly about the horrible night he killed her son. After so many years of keeping it all inside, my son was finally given the opportunity  to express how sorry he was and offered  to answer  any and all questions the woman needed to ask. After a couple  hours of frank discussion she turned to face me.

“And I want to apologize to you.” she said. “Apologize to me?” I asked, rather shockedby her offer.

“Yes” she said. “I was so angry and hurt that I think I treated you poorly during the trial.•

She looked relieved when I told her my only memory of her was our short exchange in the hallway outside the courtroom while waiting for the verdict to come in. I shared with her that, “I cried myself to sleep that night and towards morning I dreamed you were leaning over my bed to comfort me. ‘We’re in this together,’ you said kindly, and when I awoke I was reaching up to hug you. I have no memory of your treating me poorly. In fact, I’ve been praying for you all these  years;  that someday you might  find forgiveness  in your heart so you won’t have to hurt so much anymore.”

Just then, the victim’s mother pulled out a plastic bag she’d been holding on her lap.

“I brought you a gift,·she said, passing it to my son across the large oval table.

“A gift?” he replied, his wide-eyed surprise impossible  to conceal.

“Yes, it’s a dog,” she said, as he pulled the small stuffed animal out of the bag.

“A dog! Just what you always  wanted!” I said, recalling our prison  visit conversations over the years.

“And when you get out I’m going to buy you your first real dog.” the woman promised. Then, quite unexpectedly, she pushed back her chair and went around the table  to embrace my son. Without a moment’s hesitation  he stood up to accept her hug. Before going back to sit down, the woman whispered something in my son’s ear.

As the meeting came to a close the woman asked if she could continue to contact us, to which of course, we both heartily agreed. Once everyone  was gone I asked my son what the woman said to him while they were hugging.

Turning the little dog over and over in his hands he replied quietly, “She said, ‘I forgive you’.”



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