Every year since her daughter Stephanie Lane’s death, Michele Pineault has marked her birthday in some way.
Often, she would come to CRAB Park with Lane’s son, now 18, who was just eight months old when his mother went missing. Her DNA was later found on Robert Pickton’s Port Coquitlam farm.
Wednesday would have been Lane’s 38th birthday, which was Pineault’s age when she lost her 20-year-old daughter.
“It’s a tough year to know that,” she said in an interview.
Pineault marked the date surrounded by family, supporters and other advocates for missing and murdered women. In a tribute to Lane, community members laid sunflowers at the foot of the memorial rock for the missing and murdered in CRAB Park.
The event was also intended to mark three years since Angeline Pete went missing from North Vancouver.
“Three years of no contact or anything of Angeline,” Molly Dixon, Pete’s mother, told the Straight.
“It’s been really hard, you know, not knowing where she is, or what’s happened. It’s just heartache.”
Dixon said she has put up posters around B.C., hoping for some information about her daughter. In the time that she’s been searching, other aboriginal women have gone missing, she noted.
“I’m really hoping someone comes forward…just so we can have peace of mind,” she said. “If she’s alive or something happened, you know? It’s really hard.”
Lorelei Williams, one of the organizers of the event Wednesday, said she and other advocates want to see a national inquiry into the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women.
Williams is part of a coalition that has urged the provincial government to implement recommendations including improved transit along the Highway of Tears in northern B.C.
“They should be able to put a bus there—it’s not that hard,” Williams said in an interview. “How many more women have to go missing or be murdered on that Highway of Tears? It’s very upsetting.”
For Pineault, time hasn’t made the loss of her daughter any easier.
“Nothing like losing your child and especially the way I lost her,” she said. “That’s the part I can’t get over.”
But two things that have saved her, she added, have been raising her grandson, and her work as an advocate for missing and murdered women.
“Because I do the work that I do now, it’s made this struggle easier,” she said.
“That’s kind of my life’s work now.”