In Memoriam


in Writing

Karen FurstrandOne year ago, my friend Karen died in a car crash, in Vancouver. I found out the next morning from a newspaper headline, while I was waiting at a bus stop with a packet of photos I had taken of her in and around the Nitobe Gardens at UBC. It all strikes me as having happened a very long time ago: from our last brief conversation to walking twenty kilometres home, along the dark sea front, after her candle light vigil.

A year’s contemplation of life and death have yielded little more certainty about how to feel and respond.

As such a personable and enthusiastic individual, I do not doubt that Karen Furstrand is well and broadly remembered. I hope that those good recollections will temper the grief of friends and family as they think back upon her. In particular, my best wishes and condolences go out to her brother Ian, sister Sonia, and parents Erik and Celia.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous May 14, 2006 at 4:18 pm

I’d completely forgotten the date.

Thank you for the reminder.

tristan.laing May 14, 2006 at 10:00 pm

I have many warm memories of Karen, mostly if not all revolving around adventures with UBC debate. People die and pass out of existence but we remain near to them by way of memory, for memory is not the gathering of thoughts but the gathering bringing-near of people and things.

Milan May 14, 2006 at 10:56 pm


I agree. That’s why it felt both appropriate and important to raise the matter.

Rick August 8, 2006 at 10:03 pm

Thanks for having a page like this up.

Celia Furstramd January 30, 2007 at 12:46 am

Thank you for being Karen’s friend. Thank ou so much for the lovely pictures and words you’ve shared. Love Karen’s Mom

Sonia Furstrand April 11, 2007 at 6:07 am

Thanks for what you said about Karen. We all remembered her that day, and every other day that passes. I am really pleased to have the photos you took of her. I re-did her old bedroom as she had wished me to do so, and framed 3 of the photos you took to put them up in there. Thanks again.

Milan May 13, 2007 at 9:07 pm

Another year has now passed. I hope Karen’s family is well.

X May 16, 2007 at 3:17 am

I miss her too.

Milan May 14, 2008 at 11:20 am

It has now been three years, but Karen is still remembered.

Erik Furstrand June 4, 2008 at 8:25 pm

Thank you all for your thoughts. It is still tough and always will be.

Erik Furstrand (Karen’s Dad)

Celia Furstrand March 2, 2009 at 7:32 pm

Milan, Today I missed Karen so very much. I decided to read about her again. I read about what you are doing and wanted to tell you how proud Karen would be of you. I am too. Thank you again for the pictures, they mean so much to all of us. If your ever back in Richmond again please look me and us up. O r e-mail me on how your doing. Any friend of Karen’s is welcome. Take care and good Luck. Karen’s Mom (Celia)

Tristan March 2, 2009 at 10:09 pm

Although I knew Karen not terribly well, even now rarely a week passes without her coming to mind.

Milan March 3, 2009 at 7:51 pm


Thank you very much for the comment. I am glad to have the opportunity to make Karen’s memory a bit more concrete, through the few photos I was able to take of her.

Lauren M May 14, 2009 at 6:58 pm

Every day I miss her.

Celia Furstrand May 22, 2009 at 6:34 pm

On June 13, 2009 Karen would be 25. Thank you all for remembering her. Leaving flowers at 2 and Steveston or at the cemetary mean so much to us. I miss her everyday. Celia

Caroline Ledger May 23, 2010 at 10:55 pm

It’s been 5 years since you left us Karen. Still think of you, and we miss you.

Sonia Furstrand May 27, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Thank you everyone for your comments. Its nice to read these now and again and know how much she was loved and remembered.

Sonia (Karen’s sister)

Erik Furstrand October 14, 2011 at 2:49 pm

It is really nice that people remember Karen. Thank you.
I think of her every single day, and will for the rest of my life.

Erik Furstrand (Karen’s Dad)

Milan May 17, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Digging through an obscure archive, I discovered that I have a few more photos of Karen.

These were scanned from 35mm film (probably Kodak T-Max 100). The negatives are back in Vancouver.

Leah clark April 23, 2013 at 11:37 am

This morning I was thinking of Karen. I remember her so fondly and can’t believe it will be 8 years that’s she’s been gone. I spent several summers with her in comox. The first time I really got to know how generous and amazing of a person she was, was in 2001 when we were cubical mates for 2 months. Seeing your amazing pictures of her smiling face brought back such great memories. The adventures we shared and life lessons he taught me are things I will always cherish. Thank you for sharing your pictures.

Macartney May 10, 2013 at 1:53 am

Milan, thank you again for posting these. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to your site, looked through your pictures and smiled, thinking of our dear friend Karen. They really do embrace the memory of the girl whose laugh I will never forget. Thank you for your art. It’s clearly been so special to so many of us.

Milan May 16, 2015 at 2:18 am

I still miss Karen and tend to remember her more around this time of year. She was a skilled debater during her time at UBC, and would surely be impressing us all with how she would now be making use of her intelligence and determination, nine years later.

Sonia Furstrand (Karen's sister) January 24, 2019 at 8:33 pm

Hi Milan,

Just came across your site again today while googling something about my dad. Thank you again for these precious pictures and comments about Karen. I miss her so much and visiting the site brings tears to my eyes but in a good way, because I know I’m not the only one remembering her years later. Again, thank you. And yes, she was a feisty debater and damn sure wouldn’t have let anyone stand in her way. Her innocent face was only a guise for the booming, happy, and loving personality she had. Love, Sonia

Milan January 24, 2019 at 10:16 pm


It’s always moving to hear from your family. I still think of Karen often, although now alongside other friends who have died. She was the first person who I considered a peer or friend who died, and it happened so abruptly. These days I make an effort to cultivate feelings of gratitude as a routine, and I’m certainly grateful to have known Karen.

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