Family members of missing women disappointed with "incomplete" B.C. inquiry

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      As B.C.’s missing-women inquiry hears final submissions this week, some family members of murdered and missing women spoke with disappointment today (June 4) about a process that their lawyer says is "incomplete".

      During his closing comments today (June 4), lawyer Cameron Ward described to Commissioner Wally Oppal what he argued were the “major shortcomings” of the inquiry.

      “This process lacked independence and transparency…it is incomplete as we stand here today,” charged the lawyer, who is representing 25 families at the inquiry.

      Among the criticisms outlined by Ward were what he called the commission’s “heavy reliance” on a report by deputy Vancouver police chief Doug LePard on the Pickton investigation and the lack of testimony from witnesses such as the woman (with the pseudonym Ms. Anderson) who escaped Pickton’s farm in 1997.

      “Ms. Anderson herself, who unfortunately didn’t testify at this hearing, is reportedly living a clean, sober and productive life today,” Ward said. “I submit to you today, that any or all of our clients’ lost loved ones could well be living similar lives like Ms. Anderson’s today as well. They didn’t get the chance.”

      Ward also summarized the stories of some of the family members that testified during the inquiry process, including reports of indifference and disrespect when they reported their relatives missing to the police.

      “These family members reported being left with the sense that their loved ones’ personal circumstances, beset by drug addiction, poverty, or their social status or occupations as sex-trade workers, clearly affected the willingness of the police to do proper investigations of their disappearances," he said. “Many felt that their loved ones were treated as second-class citizens.”

      As Ward made his closing arguments today, some of the family members of women whose DNA or remains were found on Pickton’s farm were in the courtroom to hear his remarks.

      Lilliane Beaudoin and Lori-Ann Ellis, who have attended the hearings every day since the inquiry began in October 2011, were frustrated by interjections made during Ward’s closing statement. Oppal rejected a request from Ward to allow another 15 minutes to complete his comment, and told him that each counsel is being given one hour for their final submissions.

      “We came from all over the country to try to hold our heads up high and to hope that something positive would come out today, and it didn’t, and that’s really disappointing,” said Ellis, who is the sister-in-law of Cara Ellis, one of Pickton's victims.

      “I want to be hopeful but, you know, they keep taking my reasoning for being hopeful away,” Ellis told the Straight tearfully outside the inquiry. “I want to put my faith in him; I just don’t think I have any left.”

      Beaudoin, who travelled from Ontario to attend the inquiry, called the process to date “disappointing”.

      “There was a lot more that should have been said that was never said, and that alone is discouraging for us,” she said.

      Ernie Crey, whose sister Dawn Crey’s DNA was found on Pickton’s farm, said he’s hopeful that Oppal’s report will produce meaningful policing recommendations.

      B.C. Attorney General and Minister of Justice Shirley Bond recently gave the commissioner a four-month extension to deliver his report by the end of October 2012.

      “In spite of everything that’s happened from the very get-go to this very moment, I’m still holding out some optimism about the outcome of this inquiry, and that Mr. Oppal will produce a report that helps these policing agencies better coordinate their efforts, do a better job, and to the extent that I hope we never see another Pickton emerge,” Crey told the Straight.

      Crey recalled the range of emotions he experienced during the days he sat in on the inquiry, from anger to depression to grief for the loss of his sister.

      “He almost moved me to tears there, thinking about my sister and…some of these other aboriginal and nonaboriginal women that were Pickton’s victims,” he said of Ward’s closing remarks today.

      “It’s going to stay with me for the rest of my life—and it’s affected my entire family, my kids and by siblings and extended family...they’re all very troubled by all of this and will remain as such.”

      Crey predicted the impact of the report will also depend on the efforts of concerned citizens to push for changes.

      “The fact of the matter is, this is a political world; we’re going to have to take those recommendations and really put the government to task and the policing agencies,” he said. “It’s got to fall to the citizens and to the people affected by it, and the public generally. I think it’s going to be a fight to make whatever those recommendations might be a reality.”

      Closing arguments are scheduled to wrap up this Wednesday, with written submissions due next week. The commission of inquiry, which began holding evidentiary hearings in October 2011, was established by the B.C. government to examine police investigations of women that went missing from the Downtown Eastside between January 1997 and February 2002.

      Both the Vancouver Police Department and the RCMP, which will also be making closing arguments this week, have issued apologies for their handling of the Pickton investigation.



      Gentleman Jack

      Jun 5, 2012 at 7:17am

      Yes, what with all of the public purse string problems, the best use of money is spending it on people who're already dead.

      2nd Nation

      Jun 5, 2012 at 8:32am

      If this thing went on for 100 years some people would say it ended too soon.


      Jun 5, 2012 at 11:13am

      Both you twits, obviously white, privileged, men do no get it!
      Those women are dead because we live in a rascist, classist, misogynist society and if they were white and wealthy would most probably defended and quite possibly alive today. If ONE rich white woman had gone missing we would have called out all of our forces to find her, but not for poor women. Shame on us for not listening to the people of the DTES who knew for years that a psychopath was killing their own. Even the Police and the RCMP knew, they are complicit! They had Pickton and let him go, to kill more women for a few more years! Wake up, we are all in this together, so we have to value all our members of society, isn't that why we send our children to fight wars against oppression in Afghanistan? This inquiry has been a political exercise from the beginning never doubt that, perhaps a public apology might help a tiny bit. And I hope Pickton and his gang rot in hell!

      2nd Nation

      Jun 5, 2012 at 12:34pm

      OK, the inquiry has shown us some things:

      1. the police did not catch a killer fast enough and damage was done;
      2. these women were not supported by the people around them;
      3. presumably when these women were girls they were abused in unspeakable ways that led most of them to a life of addiction and selling their bodies on the streets as prostitutes.

      What else do we expect to hear from the inquiry?

      Gentleman Jack

      Jun 5, 2012 at 1:11pm

      "Those women are dead because we live in a rascist, classist, misogynist society and if they were white and wealthy would most probably defended and quite possibly alive today."

      That is a theory. It is evident to most who haven't "drunk the koolaid" (that is the term for someone who practices identity-based class warfare however so much it is presented as politics) that everyone who is mumbling about the inquiry would say it was underfunded and not long enough because their goal is to wage wars of attrition and to churn through tax money in order to achieve a desired end: acknowledgement of the truth of your theory about "why this happened." And, ultimately, those conclusions are not to be used as ends in themselves; they're to be used as planks for yet further trough-diving by the little University special interest group piggies.

      If you want to make women in the DTES safer, get them reading the bible, going to church, leading a good, clean and sober life. Stop looking for institutions to blame. If a while male sits around and blames all his problems on mommy, daddy and his school and the government, he's not taken seriously, is he? He's called paranoid, if he focuses too much on how school and government ruined his life. Why should that sort of whining be taken seriously from anyone else?

      I would be all for, for example, an earnest examination into how public education in _every single form_ is Residential School Lite. I would love a public discussion about how the federal government's plan to take children away from their natural families in order to be industrialized is basically what we do to everyone---we just let the legal parents retain custody insofar as they're willing to industrialize their children. Don't want your child to go to school, refuse to teach it primary curriculum? Guess who takes your kids away: the real owner.

      So I sympathize with the general problems that identity politicians might solve, if only they stopped being so egocentric and narrow-minded. But do you know why they won't, ever? Because they want to use the school-system, that residential-school-lite system, as the lever by which they socially engineer people who "think right." Residential Schooling---only bad if it's done to indians, done to while males to make them into feminist environmentalists, it's doubleplusgood!

      Taxpayers R Us

      Jun 6, 2012 at 12:40am


      Hate white men much?



      Jun 6, 2012 at 11:27am

      Boo! Boo!

      The pages of the Georgia Straight are no place for your racism and sexism!

      Shame on the editors too for not deleting your comments you racist sexist! Boo!