Reena Virk's Mother Extended an Olive Branch to One of Her Daughter's Killers

Reena Virk's mother was applauded for her strength and courage in the wake of her daughter's death.

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

May 30 2024, Published 1:58 p.m. ET

The story of Reena Virk has been thrust into the spotlight by way of a fictionalized Hulu series about the teenager's murder. Under the Bridge (based on the Rebecca Godfrey book of the same name) takes viewers back to November 1997 when a Canadian girl was beaten by a group of kids, two of which ultimately drowned her. Both the book and the show introduce us to Virk, the two individuals who ended her life, and a cast of characters who for better or worse were involved in the young girl's life and death.

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By all accounts, Virk was raised in a loving home that was dominated by her parents' religion. Manjit and Suman Virk were Jehovah's Witnesses and were raising their children using the teachings of their church. Her parents were Indian and as such, struggled to fit into a mostly white city. The Jehovah's Witnesses offered a community free of bigotry. After Virk's death, Suman called upon her spiritual beliefs to help understand her daughter's killers. Where is Reena Virk's mother now? Here's what we know.

Reena Virk's parents sit in court in Hulu's 'Under the Bridge'
Source: Hulu

(L-R): Archie Panjabi as Suman Virk; Ezra Faroque Khan as Manjit Virk in 'Under the Bridge'

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Reena Virk's mother forgave one of her daughter's killers.

Unfortunately, Suman passed away on June 16, 2018 after spending two days in the hospital, per The Globe and Mail. Suman was at a cafe on June 14 when she began choke. This resulted in her airways being blocked for several minutes which caused significant brain damage. It was a shocking end to a life filled with countless twists and turns, all of which Suman handled with courage and grace.

After Virk's death Suman began communicating with one of her killers, a 16 year-old boy named Warren Glowatski. She called upon the tenets of her religion to see Glowatski in a different light. According to the BBC, soon after Glowatski was convicted he met the Virks in a church basement where they were taking part in a restorative justice session. In this program, victims and offenders were able to spend time together in an intimate setting. Glowatski apologized to Suman and Manjit.

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A decade later in June 2007, Glowatski was preparing to be released from prison. Both Suman and Manjit were present when the decision was made, and testified in support of it. Glowatski shook Majit's hand after giving Suman a hug. When asked about this by the press, Suman said, "Today I think we see a young man who has taken responsibility for his actions and is trying to amend the wrong that he did."

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Suman Virk became an anti-bullying advocate.

In September 2008, Manjit wrote a book about his daughter titled Reena: A Father's Story. In it he discussed how Suman propped up her family after Virk's murder. She "became the spokesperson for our family by dealing with the media and news reporters and continues to do so," he wrote. "When I was incapacitated by Reena’s death, Suman allowed me to grieve without putting undue pressure on me." Suman was grappling with her grief in her own way, which is what lead her to taking action.

Suman and Manjit worked with the Victoria police department to raise awareness about bullying in schools. After Suman's death, police chief Del Manak said in an interview, "It takes a tremendous amount of commitment and inner strength and courage to step up and do it. She was a community leader. She was a community advocate. What she did is an inspiration to all of us."

They helped give birth to "anti-bullying programs started by the government of British Columbia, said Education Minister Rob Fleming. He added that together, Suman and Manjit "literally talked to tens of thousands of kids, educators, administrators, and law-enforcement officials about how we can learn to treat one another with respect and kindness." In 2009 they were awarded the provincial Anthony J. Hulme Award of Distinction, given to them for their contributions to crime prevention and community safety.

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