Natalie was born on Oct 17, 1985. She was born in a flurry and hurry in a maternity waiting room in Hamilton, Ontario. From that day forward Natalie would often do things her own way. When she was safely placed in my arms and I first laid my eyes on her, she was tiny and pink and I called her the ”heart of my heart”.   

Before Natalie turned two, our family moved to a property in Muskoka. It is here that she and her older brother Nicolas became close friends. She adored her brother and followed him and his imagination everywhere.  

Together they caught frogs and fireflies. They explored the neighbourhood forests throughout the seasons. They swam in the lakes in summer and skated and skied in the winter. Twelve years of riding the yellow school busses to the final few stops on the route secured their togetherness. The first separation for Natalie from her brother was when he left for university in Ottawa. In a brief time she would also leave Muskoka herself to attend university in Toronto.  

Natalie was murdered after completing the third year of her four year program in business, hotel and tourism at Ryerson University. She was twenty at the time.

Natalie’s short life was filled with adventures and experiences shared with her friends and her family.   

We traveled, we camped, we built our own home, all while Natalie was blooming. She was a child and then a young woman who was always active and occupied.  Passionate about so many activities and so many issues, she could inspire her peers and adults. It would not be unusual to hear Natalie debating the injustice of someone’s plight or to find her skating in the forest on a winter’s night for hours with her brother Nicolas.

Natalie studied dance and music and drama, but ballet is where her enthusiasm shone.

Natalie dreamed of seeing the world. She spoke of working abroad perhaps at her own establishment one day. The truth is Natalie had many ambitions and aspirations for all her tomorrows.  

A mere bud in the garden.

Forever and always Natalie.


In Her Own Words

Family And Friends

During a lifetime you will meet thousands of different people. Some of them you will like, some you will dislike, some of them will blend in and some will stand out. Out of these thousands of people who venture in and out of our daily lives we seem to develop close relationships with only a few: the ones that really matter to us.

Your family gives you unconditional love. I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t have my mother there to support me when I needed it. Your family is always there. You cannot pick your family or change them. They are your blood. That’s something stronger than any friendship. We should appreciate and love our families because they are the ones who will still be there in twenty, thirty or forty years from now. 

Our brothers and sisters may be the closest friends we ever have. They won’t leave the family or you and stop being your brother or sister. These family members are more important than we even realize.

Without support, without family to turn to when you need help, you are lost. What really matters is family is there for us, to help us, to talk with us, to love us.

Natalia Novak, age 16

This piece was found in Nat’s school notebook. 


People come and go. People, places and activities move in and out of our lives all the time. Things are constantly changing and leaving us. What really matters though, are the people you’ve had a chance to meet, the experiences you’ve had, and the memories you get in the end.

Even before I could walk, I was told I was always dancing. Dance has always been something I love. Since I was three years old I’ve spent at least three hours every week with Miss Evelyn in her pink world, the “Bracebridge School of Ballet”. PINK. That’s what it is, that’s the mood, the environment and even the personalities surrounding you. Soft. Pink.

The dance studio has become more than just a building with music and dance floors. It’s my place to forget about what else is going on in my life. Let it go and dance.

As everything changes in my life, this particular sanctuary will get left behind but I will never let it be forgotten. What really matters is that I had the experience. It influenced my life and it helped me grow up. It matters that you find something you love and enjoy.

Natalia Novak, age 17

This piece was found in a school notebook of Nat’s.


Musical Tributes

Whisper to Your Heart was written and performed by a dear and intuitive friend, Karen May. My path first crossed with Karen’s in 2012, on a ladies' yoga retreat in Cuba.

Seated together at one of our first meals we discovered that our paths had crossed previously, so to speak. Karen had been performing for a woman’s fundraiser and awareness night in Huntsville, Ontario, when she first viewed the video “If Only … Nat’s Story”. The story resonated with Karen that night and had lingered on with her. Meeting Natalie’s mother in Cuba seemed more than a coincidence to Karen.

Late, and then even then later that night Karen could not sleep. Thoughts, ideas, lyrics whirled about in her mind. Karen told me that she felt Natalie was close to her that long night and perhaps inspired or even mused the beautiful result, Whisper To Your Heart. It is Natalie’s perspective that is shared.

Such a gift and talent.  

Thank you Karen

Angel’s Dance was written by Frank Rocchi. It was produced and mixed by Amy King and performed by Frank Rocchi, Chris White and Amy King. Chris White recorded the music for the video. This project was a gift for Natalie.  

Frank and his wife Janis have been friends of ours since high school days in Hamilton.

As we struggled to choose appropriate music for the video “If Only … Nat’s Story”, Frank, a father of two himself, began composing his instinctive and soulful song as soon as he heard of our need. Angel’s Dance leaves one with a fleeting and transitory sense.

So deeply grateful.

Thank You Frank, Chris and Amy


Karen May, Christine Heron (guitar) and Sarah Spring (piano) perform "Whisper To Your Heart" as part of the 30th Anniversary Celebration of the Muskoka Women's Advocacy Group.