Saturday, October 28

Portraits inspired by pain

By Teresa Mallam
Free Press
Oct 27 2006

Betty Kovacic puts down her brush and looks sadly into the eyes of the young woman she has just finished painting. “Her name is Sherry Irving. She’s been missing since April 1997, from the east side of Vancouver.”

The artist was at Two Rivers Gallery on Tuesday, putting final touches to her work.

Her acrylic and mixed media painting is the last of 50 portraits of missing or murdered women that Kovacic has brought to life on canvas. The women’s pain can be found in their eyes and their mouth.

An exhibit of her work is scheduled for September 2007.

“Now that the portraits are done, the next stage is to bring everything together for the exhibit,” said Kovacic.

“We are planning for a room full of women who will have a voice. When I began this project in 2002, there were 50 women named on police posters and pictured on internet listings of missing and murdered women. Those are the ones I painted. Since then, more women have been added, so I found a way to represent them in the exhibit.”

Kovacic drew inspiration from her heartfelt belief that the women – many of them sex trade workers and runaways – have been marginalized. Both in their lives and after their disappearance or death.

“People tend talk about them as a collective. I wanted people to see them as individuals. As human beings. Not disposable objects. That’s why I chose to paint them all,” she said. “Painting these women has been a very long and painful process for me. I’ve cried over each one.”

To prepare for the exhibit, Kovacic, an art instructor at CNC, began collaborating with friends and other artists.

“Broek Bosma is creating music for each woman and [UNBC professor} Deborah Poff is working on an audio component. Michelle Worth [Counselling and Assessment Services] helped get me started with canvases and some paints. The installation was left up to me.”

The rest is up to the community.

“We could use donations for technical assistance, recording music, putting 50 music delivery systems in place and for our catalog.” Kovacic hopes the exhibit will go on tour and raise awareness about the “forgotten” women. And put a face and voice to each one.

The pain in her paintings comes from the tragic stories of dead and missing women. It also comes from her own, personal pain. Soon after the project began, Kovacic’s husband of 21 years, Blaine Ozust, was diagnosed with cancer. He died before her work was done.

“It was hard to paint but I felt I had to. I didn’t paint much while my husband was going through his treatments because I spent my time caring for him,” she said. She went from his bedside to her easel, trying to paint.

“Blaine was very supportive of this project and my art. He did my framing for me. Everyone rallied around me, my students, friends and family. But I think I poured my grief onto the women I was painting – and I was already grieving for them. So it was a very, hard time.”

For twenty years, Kovacic has used her art to communicate social and political issues.

Always lingering in the background was a poignant reminder.

“My mother is from Yugoslavia. She spent five terrible years in a Nazi concentration camp. She was not Jewish, she was a political prisoner. I remember her stories about being objectified and losing their power. That stayed with me. Like my mother, these women have painful stories about having no identity and becoming objects in survival sex. These are women with no choices because of poverty issues and lack of support.”

Many of the women are from Vancouver area but some are from northern BC, she said.

During the police investigation, the women became “not even body parts, just DNA” said Kovacic. She added they will be “dissected” further during the court process.

Indeed, in her letter of support, Maggie de Vries (her sister Sarah was murdered and her DNA found on Robert Pickton’s farm in August 2002) said:

“Please give Betty’s project the support that it needs to be realized, so many other family members and the public can experience it. And so that these missing women can be celebrated and remembered in art at the same time that a lengthy trial will be dismembering them.”

Anyone who wants to contribute to Betty Kovacic’s Room of Missing Women project can make donations to Two Rivers Gallery.

© Copyright 2006 Prince George Free Press

Film leaves lasting impression

Jeff DeDekker
The Leader-Post

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Five years after its release, Senorita Extraviada (Missing Young Woman) is still having an impact on society.

The documentary, released in 2001 by renowned filmmaker Lourdes Portillo, tells the story of the disappearance of more than 300 young women from Juarez, Mexico, dating back to 1993.

When the Mexican authorities refused to commit resources to finding the killers, Portillo took it upon herself to bring their stories to the fore. The film resulted in the situation becoming a world issue with the Organization of American States, Amnesty International and numerous women's groups joining the search for justice.
The film has changed the way Mexicans think about the persecution of women.

"In terms of consciousness, I think what has happened in Mexico is that the Mexicans have become aware that this is not only happening in Juarez," says Portillo. "It's happening in Chihuahua, it's happening in Sinaloa, it's happening all over the Republic. There's now a word to describe what is happening: Femincide. That's what there calling it.

"Such a state of awareness was not with us at all before and I think, sadly, it's because this issue has come up before in the world. We know that in Guatemala that thousands of girls have been killed and the reason that they have not been given any attention is partly due to the fact that they are indigenous women. They are seen as easily disposable, worthless to society so who cares who kills them? This can go on endlessly."

The attitudes, however, haven't changed completely. The Mexican government has made an appearance of moving forward against the problem but Portillo is convinced it's a sham.

"President Fox named a commissioner to eradicate violence against women. She has the title but she has no power," says Portillo. "She has no power really to change things. She kind of ameliorated the big pain.

"Those are the changes in terms of the government."

No one has been convicted in any of the cases of the missing women. Mexican authorities have arrested and charged many suspects but the lack of decisive evidence has hampered the prosecution of cases.

Portillo is convinced that there is a link, involving powerful people, between the drug trade and the missing women.

"I think the killers are people in very high places," explains Portillo. "There's a net of complicity between the people who kidnap them, the people who hold them hostage, the killers themselves, who are in a very high place economically and I think they're linked with people in high places legally. And the authorities have also been involved in that.

"The unfortunate thing in Mexico with what is happening and what we really haven't addressed in the United States is the fact that Mexico is falling into the grip of narcotics trafficking in the same way as Colombia. Consequently, it corrupts every part of society. So when the most powerful are involved in these crimes it's very easy for them to cover it up. That's how so many girls can go missing, so many people cannot be found by the authorities. There's no other way."

Portillo arrived in Regina on Thursday to participate in Missing and Taken: A Symposium. The event, sponsored by the Dunlop Art Gallery, in collaboration with Women's Studies, University of Regina, featured panel discussions, a lecture by Portillo and a screening of the film Friday. Today's schedule, which runs from 10:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., features presentations by artists, writers and community organizations at the RPL Theatre.

By taking her film, which has garnered numerous honours from film festivals around the world, on the road, Portillo hopes to keep the pressure on the authorities.
"The demand is for justice, that is the real demand," says Portillo. "Capture the killers and punish the killers to put a stop to it."

Portillo has a simple explanation why the film, awarded the Special Jury Prize at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, has been so successful.

"The key to this film is the fact that I'm focused on the mothers of these girls and the people on the front lines of the struggle," says Portillo. "I'm so happy that I can give this to my children. This is what is important. This is worth suffering for. I feel gratified that I've done my life's work."

© The Leader-Post (Regina) 2006

Wednesday, October 25

Addressing the issues

By Bill Phillips
Free Press

Oct 25, 2006

The first thing Lisa Krebs does when talking about her new role as coordinator for the Highway of Tears initiative is to recognize the families of those who have lost loved ones.

One of her first tasks will be to establish a governing body that will oversee what she does. The position stems from a report released earlier this year that lists everything from free bus rides to more police officers as ways to stop women from hitchhiking along Hwy. 16 from Prince George to Prince Rupert.

That stretch of road has been dubbed the Highway of Tears because at least 10 young women, all but one of whom is aboriginal, have disappeared since 1974.

“There are lots of linkages that have to be made, a lot of change in police,” she said Friday, her first day on the job. “The governing body will help with that.”
The governing body will be comprised of families of victims, the RCMP, rural First Nations representatives, urban aboriginal representatives, and Highway 16 municipalities.

Her job will focus on the 33 recommendations outlined in the Highway of Tears Symposium report, issued earlier this year. Of the 33 recommendations, 15 focused on victim prevention, six on emergency planning, six on victim family counselling, and six on community development and support.

It’s a lot more than just teaching people about the perils of hitchhiking. It’s about social change, said Krebs when asked about why she applied for the job. She said she identified with the recommendations in the report.

“As an aboriginal woman, I believe change comes from the community,” she said.
Her background is in planning, she completed a bachelor’s degree in First Nations Studies from the University of Northern BC and a Masters of Anthropology from the University of Alberta. She has worked in many capacities with various First Nations communities in the north.

As for her work as the Highway of Tears initiative coordinator will mean tackling some large, large issues as the initiative will look at why people are on the road hitchhiking.

“People need to step outside of their own reality,” she said. “This is more than just people standing out on the highway, there are reasons they are standing out on the highway.”

Poverty is an issue, as is providing recreation opportunities for youth. As Krebs stated, it’s about social change.

However, there will be other aspects to her job as well, such as education campaigns. University students will be targeted and simple things such as billboards might be part of education campaigns. Crisis response plans also have to be developed. It’s a big job, and Krebs won’t be doing it alone. The governing body will help, but she is also relying on help from people and communities along Highway 16 – which she will be travelling extensively in the near future.

Another aspect of her job will be fundraising. The symposium report originally called for two coordinators – one in Prince George and one in Prince Rupert. Krebs’ job will be to secure funding for that second coordinator. Some applications for grant money have already been submitted, but she will be seeking more funding.
And the job is not without its detractors. Working out of the Carrier Sekani Family Services building, Krebs said the office has received calls saying the initiative is a waste of taxpayers’ dollars. She says she reminds herself of what Mary Tegee of Carrier Sekani Family Services told her.

“If we save one person, then it’s all worth it.”

© Copyright 2006 Prince George Free Press

Monday, October 23

Who Killed Theresa! John Allore's Blog!

Hi Bloggers,

in Ontario!

AT John Allore's, BLOG

PLEASE feel free to post any comments.

He will be presenting this week!

Sunday, October 22

John signs boomerang

Posted warnings actually encourage men seeking sex, say some Beverly residents

October 22, 2006

A Beverly business owner says the Report-a-John program is a bust because it draws would-be johns to her neighbourhood.

Sharon Rondeau said the anti-prostitution signs erected along 118 Avenue as part of the program show trolling men they're in the right spot to buy sex.

"It's advertising," said Sharon Rondeau of Lancasters Billiards, 4539 118 Avenue. "Well, at least I'm at the right street," she said in a mocking tone.

The Report-a-John program launched in early July. Signs were peppered along 118 Avenue saying prostitution wouldn't be tolerated.

Citizens can call police at 421-2656 - posted on the sign - to report licence plate numbers and other related information on motorists trolling the avenue for sex.

Prostitute Carol-Lynn Strachan, who had once left the streets but found herself on her old haunts earlier this year, said the "trolls" just follow the signs.

"They're a virtual road map," she said. "It's like red lights."

Kate Quinn, who heads the Prostitution Awareness and Action Foundation of Edmonton, acknowledged the signs may tell johns they're in a hot spot for sex.

But the signs also tell johns "city streets are being watched," said Quinn. "So I would see it differently. We're saying, 'so you're a newcomer to Edmonton. Edmonton streets are not places for you to cruise.'"

And she noted that starting tomorrow, police officers will be able to seize cars that are used to pick up hookers.

Rondeau said she still uses the Report-A-John system. She collects licence plate numbers and passes them on to police.

Despite this, she says she continues to see a flow of new prostitutes and johns in the area.

Ibrahim Gharabli, who owns nearby Gharabli automotive, said he's a big fan of the Report-A-John signs.

"We want to live in the nice neighbourhood," he said.

Other local business owners, who wanted to remain anonymous, said it's tough to tell whether prostitution has gone up or down since the program was introduced. But they agree the police have been much more visible in the area.

Saturday, October 21

Missing Pieces - RADIO Missing, Murdered & Unidentified!

Missing Pieces - RADIO
Missing, Murdered & Unidentified
Check out site for new features!

Tuesdays @ 7 central / 8 eastern -
Listen Online at -

Live from Livingston, Tennessee~

FYI - Current as of the August 31, 2006 indexing

According to the FBI-NCIC there are (approximately) 109,968 Missing Persons listed in their system. Children and adult. (DOWN from last months total of 108,145 )

There are (approximately) 6,175 Unidentified Persons listed their system. Children and adult.
(Up from last months total of 6,118)

Text Archive of Episode 6 -
Other past episodes are currently in transcription

Upcoming guests include -- schedule(s) pending / subject to change

Patty Starr - Tuesday, October 31st 2006

Elizabeth Sinor - November 2006, ,

Elizabeth Hudson -
Author of Snow Bodies

Sherry Smith - 2007
Mother of murdered Bo Upton
Bo Upton / Ryan Shangraw - double homicide

Family Member of Jonathan Thrasher - 2007

John "Alan: Tate - November 2006
survivor - "Message in the Bottle"

Louis C. Smit - December 2006
The NOMIS project -
The Network of Medicolegal Investigative Systems

Elizabeth Pendergrass - November 2006
Buried for more than 20 years...
the family learn the woman they buried is a stranger.
Where's Leoma?

Laura James -
Clews The Historic True Crime Blog
CLEWS is a weblog devoted to the discovery
and dissemination of the fascinating stories to be
found where murder, history, and journalism overlap.

Ryan Allred - 2007

Brother of Vickie Bertram
30 Years Later, Her Death Remains a Mystery

Family Member of Kenny Stricklin - 2007
Michael Kenneth "Kenny" Stricklin
Missing since January 29, 1992 in Yazoo City, Mississippi .html
Internet buffs help research missing

And many more....

Plus I am going to introduce a text only version of Missing Pieces
so that more guest can be accommodated. Details coming soon. - Todd

Recent mention of Missing Pieces in the news....

Past shows --- complete synopsis and audio archive will also be available in the near future @

Text Archive of Episode 6 -- NEW!

DATE: Tuesday, October 17th, 2006 - Episode 7
GUEST: Wayne Leng
The Missing Women of Vancouver

Date: October 10th, 2006 - Episode 6
Guest: Laura (Allen) Hood
After October of 1978,
Laura's brother - Tony Allen - never called or came home again.
Text Archive of Episode 6

Date: October 3rd, 2006 - Episode 5
Guest: Shari Greer / murder victim Kathryn-Mary's Mom

Date: Sept 26, 2006 - Episode 4
Guest: Tracie Fleischhut / -

Date: Sept 19, 2006 - Episode 3
Guest: Jill Bennett /

Date: Sept 12, 2006 - Episode 2
Guest: Clay Stafford /

Date: Sept 5, 2006 - Episode 1
Guest: Patty Beeken /

---- all great guests and we hope to have them on again soon.

Missing Pieces is a program designed to raise public awareness
and encourage communications of information between people
who can help locate or identify individuals in cases that have
been classified as unsolved. Missing, Murdered & Unidentified.

If you have questions, comments about past shows and upcoming shows,
or if you want to suggest a guest or sub-topic ,
please contact :

Todd Matthews -
Host / Producer / Creator -
931 - 397 - 3893

Kimberly B. -
Program Director / Assistant Producer / Webmaster -

Eric Meadows -
WCAN Co-host
voice mail 1 - 440 -326 - 0144

WCANradio - Executive Production of radio broadcast -
1 - 866 - 921 - 2205

Captain Greene's toughest mission

The Globe and Mail
October 21, 2006

Nearly eight months ago, Captain Trevor Greene was struck in the head by an axe as he sat down to talk to villagers in Afghanistan. He faces a long road to a full recovery. MARK HUME tells his story

VANCOUVER — Debbie Lepore was lying in bed with the darkness of night starting to soften and cold showers falling on the city when she heard someone at the door.

Lieutenant Trevor Greene, of Vancouver, B.C., is seen in this undated photo.

She knew immediately what it meant. Her man was in Afghanistan. And there in the darkness, before the phone started to ring incessantly, before the haunting images began to flicker across the television screen with news reports, she knew.

Something terrible had happened to Captain Trevor Greene, the big, good looking, athletic writer and soldier she had met five years earlier, to whom she was engaged, and with whom she had recently had a baby girl, named Grace.

“It was about 6 or 6:30 in the morning. Saturday. March 4th,” she said in an interview from Vancouver General Hospital this week, where she goes daily.

“There was a knock on the door. You know instantly what it is.”

She'd had that premonition once before, months earlier, when Canadian military officers had come to her Vancouver home to tell her Capt. Greene, 41, had suffered minor injuries in an attack on an armoured vehicle he was in.

“I had a sense it was more serious this time,” she said.

And it was. Capt. Greene, a man who friends say always wanted “to do good,” a champion of the downtrodden who wrote books about the missing women of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and the homeless in Japan, was struck in the head with an axe when he sat down with Afghan villagers to talk about how to get clean water for their homes and farms.

A member of a military unit known as CIMIC, for Civilian-Military Co-operation, Capt. Greene had taken off his helmet as a sign of trust and respect.

He was attacked from behind, suffering a deep head wound that put him in a coma for weeks, and which, nearly eight months later, has left him confined to a hospital bed. His attacker was shot dead.

Capt. Green was not the first Canadian soldier to be injured in Afghanistan, but the attack on him shocked Canadians — perhaps because its nature brought home to them the reality that this was a mission like no other, where violence and treachery could come from anywhere, without warning.

Ms. Lepore held her breath and opened the front door.

“I can't recall what was said. I can't even remember who was there. One was a military padre,” she said.

She laughed at herself for forgetting the details. “I don't know if it was the shock or maybe it's just that so much has happened since then. But the details are gone.”

A lot has happened since then, as Capt. Greene has begun a second mission – one at least as challenging as anything he faced in Afghanistan – where the goal is simply to get well, get whole again.

In that moment, Ms. Lepore's life was also changed dramatically. She went from having a busy, orderly life filled with raising Grace and crunching numbers for the Catalyst Paper Corp., to one that has submerged her in the medical world of head trauma and rehabilitation.

“I am the type of person who just gets immersed in it,” she said. “I have to learn everything about it to the point where I sometimes catch myself using medical jargon to friends who have no idea what I'm talking about.”

Within 24 hours of hearing of the attack, she was en route to a hospital in Landsthul, Germany, accompanied by Capt. Greene's parents and Canadian military escorts, who have stayed in touch with her almost daily since then.

“When I first saw him he was in a medically induced coma,” she said. “But he looked like his old self. Except for the swelling [from his head wound]. I felt right then he was going to make it.”

In the months since then, Capt. Greene's family and friends have maintained a constant vigil, praying that one day he will be fully recovered.

For now, it remains a struggle where progress is measured in the simplest movements, a smile, or a few words, a gesture with a hand.

He is mostly confined to a bed at Vancouver General Hospital. His family and friends visit him daily.

Ms. Lepore or others take turns holding up a newspaper for him to read, or reading to him from books.

He does crossword puzzles with the help of friends. Sometimes he sends messages on a BlackBerry (a friend types; he presses send) or has brief conversations. Talking is difficult because he has had a tracheotomy, a surgical procedure to open his wind pipe, which leaves his throat dry.

Ms. Lepore works daily with him on physical rehabilitation, moving his limbs, helping him from his bed to sit in a chair, massaging his atrophied muscles. And every day she gives him a Chinese herbal footbath.

Although progress is slow, she said, he has been showing great signs of recovery, regaining his sense of touch – and his famous sense of humour.

“You can make him laugh and it's great when he does,” she said.

One day a nurse commented on his ability to drink lots of water.

“You should see me drink beer,” he said.

There is no official prognosis. His head injury was severe and doctors don't know how far he can go in recovery, or how fast. But Ms. Lepore, other family members and friends who have visited him all say the same thing.

If anybody can make a come back from this, it's Trevor, or ‘Bubba' as he's known to his closest friends.

Ms. Lepore said her faith in his ability to recover was shaken only once, early at Landsthul, when he slipped from medically stable to unstable.

“We did a lot of praying that night,” she said. “And the next day he bounced back and was stable – and I have never doubted since then. I really believe in positive energy and I have nothing but positive thoughts. As my grandmother says, ‘Why worry about what might not happen?' I just believe everything's going to be good, everything is going to work out.”

Ms. Lepore isn't alone in that approach. Shortly after news of the attack on Capt. Greene, a network of his friends, alerted by e-mails, text messages and phone calls, gathered at his favourite Vancouver beach, Jericho. About 50 people came out in a lashing rainstorm to share stories about the rugby player and reserve soldier who stepped up when the call to Afghanistan came — because he thought he could help bring peace to a war-torn area where people deserved better.

“We just wanted to send out positive energy,” said Barb Stegemann who helped organize that spontaneous gathering. She has been a friend of Capt. Greene's since they went to school together at University of Kings College, in Halifax, in the 1980s, where they were both in the rowing program and shared a mentor who encouraged them to “serve the homeless and those who were unprotected in society.”

Ms. Stegemann described him as a remarkable man with a passion for life and a deep feeling of compassion for those in need.

Striving to establish his credentials as a writer, he took on difficult subjects where he could give a voice to those who had none in mainstream society.

That same attitude led him to become a CIMIC officer, where he could work on helping “the average Afghan,” get basic things like food, water and schools.

Ms. Stegemann described Capt. Greene, renowned for his athletic skills as a rugby player and rower, as a big man, 6 feet 7 inches, with a gentle soul and gregarious personality.

“I really think it's important to convey the fact that he's always been a protector of people. I always used to tease him about his white horse he comes charging in on. But he's always looked out for people that are being bullied or harmed. I remember in university he would go across the campus to ensure that a girl got across safely, even if he didn't know her. He wouldn't let someone leave an event and walk alone. I always thought that was remarkable for a young man to be so protective of people. I think that really testifies as to why he went to Afghanistan, to ensure that the people there are heard and that they feel protected. I think that connects and loops back to everything else that he is.”

Ms. Stegemann said she was shocked when a phone call alerted her to Capt. Greene's injury, and she didn't know what to expect when she first visited him at the hospital. But after seeing the recovery he's made so far she believes he's going to prevail.

“Doctors have said you don't see injuries like this very often. Dealing with an injury like that is new ground. But he's remarkably strong, incredibly strong, to be with us still after that severe attack. He's on his own healing journey and he has successes every day and for that we're grateful,” she said.

Robyn Gibson, another friend from college, said he was “shaken and terrified” when he heard of the attack but quickly his fears gave way to a feeling of confidence.

“To get in there and see him and see that infectious smile, to see those bright eyes, was just to reassure me what I know, which is that Trevor will make a full recovery,” he said.

Mr. Gibson recalled an outing he had with his friend before he went to Afghanistan. Out of the blue Capt. Greene called up to say he wanted to go bike riding. But Mr. Gibson, “a Lance Armstrong wannabe” warned him off, saying he'd be taking a high performance bike on a gruelling, high speed ride out around the University of B.C. campus and Vancouver International Airport.

Capt. Greene, he said, showed up on an old mountain bike, wearing flip flops – and proceeded to stick with him for the whole ride.

“He's just not a quitter,” he said, laughing at the memory. “It just never occurred to him to turn back.”

“This will tell you something about him,” he added. “ I think his greatest disappointment to finding himself in that hospital is that he won't finish his mission. I know that sounds crazy, but this is a guy who believes in the Canadian mission, who believes in the UN . . . if he regrets anything it's that he didn't complete the job.”

Richard Greene, Capt. Greene's father, agreed with that assessment.

One of the first things his son asked doctors when he regained the ability to talk was when he'd be able to go back to Afghanistan.

Mr. Greene, a retired RCMP officer, said he thought he knew his son well before the accident, but has learned more about him since, by listening to his large circle of friends talk about the life he led.

He and his son have particularly enjoyed the company of Capt. Greene's former rugby teammates from the Vancouver Rowing Club.

“They have left rugby balls and rugby shirts all over the hospital room,” he said. “They are a rowdy bunch. And Trevor just loves seeing them.”

On the field Capt. Greene was a big, physical player and it is frustrating for him to be bedridden, Mr. Greene said.

Last month Capt. Greene went through a second round of head surgery, after earlier operations in May. Since then, Mr. Greene said, there has been noticeable improvement.

“His motor skills were very severely damaged. But he can move his arms and fingers and hands. The reconnections are taking place and he's able to do a heck of a lot more now than he did in July.”

“He wants to come back. We know that,” Mr. Greene said. “It's now up to us to bring him back.”

When he says “us,” he means Capt. Greene's family, his large circle of friends, his military supporters, doctors, therapists – and the thousands of Canadians who have sent messages of support and prayer.

But mostly he means his son's fiancée, Ms. Lepore, who Capt. Greene planned to marry on his return from Afghanistan.

Friends describe her as “an angel” who brings a sense of hope with her on every visit to the hospital.

Ms. Lepore said the greatest motivator both for her and Capt. Greene, is their bubbly, 21-month-old daughter.

“Grace is always happy. She's a joy for us both,” she said.

Capt. Greene will soon be able to leave the hospital and the family is searching for a rehabilitation facility that is experienced with handling patients with such severe brain injuries.

Ms. Lepore said that will probably require leaving B.C. and perhaps Canada. She will have to quit her job, leaving a company that has been “incredibly supportive.”

But she won't hesitate to pack up and move both herself and Grace.

© Copyright 2006 Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Missing People Net - Bad Date, The Lost Girls of Vancouver's Low Track

Thursday, October 19

Hey brother, can you spare a copy?

By – Smithers Interior News
Oct 19, 2006

An emergency contingency plan must be enacted for areas like the Bulkley Valley.

A number of years ago, after a meagre snowfall that had most of Canada laughing, Toronto called in the army to patrol and plow the streets.

Massive overreaction to be sure however, in Smithers and the Bulkley Valley, we have led the province in crime for four years now, and the rookie cops that Regina sends to out-of-the-way, remote places like Smithers are terribly overworked. Yet, a few snowflakes and Toronto gets an army.

As reported in The Interior News over and over again, the number of cases our nine police officers face is staggering.

Yet, big city 'burbs have double and triple the staff handling one-quarter to one-half the number of cases.

The inequity of the situation facing our community is appalling and the provincial and federal bean counters who decide how many cops and where they go, and how much the community must pay are utterly ignorant of the situation.

Staff Sgt. Rod Holland has told this newspaper on several occasions, that more cops are needed, but faced with the Smithers taxpayer burden and politics of his job, he is incapable of making that request for more officers a reality.

One of the basic premises of social government decision-making is ensuring pooled resources are delegated based upon need.

If for four years, three communities, Smithers, Quesnel and Williams Lake, have been highlighted by the solicitor general himself as the worst crime centres in the province, the question begs itself:

Why has John Les done nothing?

Granted, we are not talking about drive-by shootings and civil insurrection, but the level of crime, and the seriousness is escalating.

One could also question the Highway of Tears response.

Given the conflicting information released by the RCMP themselves, the number of missing or murdered women within this area is between nine and 30, depending on who you listen to.

Robert William Pickton is charged with 27 murders and was the subject of - as the police called it - an all-out emergency police effort.

Why? Because it was a Lower Mainland issue. They were Lower Mainland people.

Yet, with three northern cities and towns, with massive crime problems, a one-third solved crime rating, huge case burdens, coupled with as many as 30 missing or murdered women, the provincial and federal response has been virtually non-existent.

The bottom line is: If Smithers could afford to hire new police officers, despite the current inequitable police taxation system, Smithers Mayor Jim Davidson would no doubt add more uniforms.

The simple reality is, with nearly $1.2 million of the town's $12 million budget already spent on cops, we can't afford any more.

This is where special circumstances kick in - like floods in Manitoba, fires in the Okanagan, or snowfall in Toronto - and a circumstance our provincial and federal governments have a duty to recognize.

We are not talking about a few extra snowflakes, we are talking about the inexorable destruction of the very fabric of a small mountain town... all because John Les and crew can't see beyond some mystical mathematical formula.

Smithers needs help.

Smithers needs more police officers.

Smithers needs proactive enforcement.

Smithers needs better judicial decisions.

But most importantly, for once, Smithers needs Victoria to listen... and then do something.

If the numbers released by the solicitor general say anything... there are a lot of cops sitting around doing relatively little in some big cities. Let us borrow a few - we really do need them.

© Copyright 2006 Williams Lake Tribune

Williams Lake Tribune

guest comment - Remember the Highway of Tears

Oct 18, 2006

Remember the Highway of Tears

THE TERRACE Standard has recently published several disturbing items such as Claudette Sandecki columns on the Highway of Tears and the article on the native binners who make their living by recycling bottles and cans.

Claudette felt that the Highway of Tears sympsoium in Prince George was a waste of time and energy, but was she there?

Did she know any of the women who have gone missing along the Highway of Tears. Never mind that the highway is a "so-called" Highway of Tears. It is.

We all talk about how people shouldn't hitchhike and that people shouldn't kill other people.

No matter what class or ethnicity they are from, the people who hitchhike want to get from point A to point B. Simple, right. Or so it should be but someone sees their lives as a waste because they murder them like their lives don't matter.

Which is what I hear when I read Claudette. Saving any lives by attending a meeting and brainstorming isn't a waste of time or energy.

Claudette leads a sheltered life and has no clue. Did these women's lives mean less because they hitchiked?

When you see a hitchhiker wonder instead where are they going and could you help them help them rather than regard the hitchhiker as a victim.

Not all the women who were lost along the Highway of Tears were hitchhikers.

Remember them and remember that the highway that runs through the north isn't safe. We named the highway so that it and the victims aren't forgotten.

Sometimes when I drive home along the highway I wonder about those women and I drive Hwy16 every single day.

Sure the north is beautiful but for some people it isn't very safe. Being judged is a common occurence among Canada's native people.

We get judged because of the colour of our skin but so many others attend a tanning salon to become more brown.

We're judged because we hitchhike but we do what has to be done to get what we need done. And if hitchhiking is the only way to do that, we do it.

My sister is going to college and she attends night classes and the only way she has to get home is to hitchhike but she believes in what she is doing so she will do it.
I have also hitchhiked because I needed to get to school but, my pick-up was broken and it was the only way I could get to where I was going.

Belief in one's self is a powerful thing and a beautiful thing and who cares what others think.

Which brings me to the binners who are beautiful men who make living in this world better. How?

Well they are princes among thieves who save our planet by recycling waste thatsomeone couldn't be bothered to.

Because govenment officials deemed it necessary to cut back on social assistance, they picked on the poorest of the poor.

These men used to be warriors and a long time agosettlers would have needed their help to live in the north.

Did you read what one said? He said some loser is going around assaulting them while they sleep out in the open. This land was all theirs once and now they live where they can and feed themselves by collecting recyclables to make some extra spending money.

Some one is picking on the poor homeless guy and stabbing him. What are the police doing about it? Just about the same as they are for the Highway of Tears?

To the loser who is stabbing them, what comes around goes around. You will get what you deserve in the end. Pick on someone who is awake and can defend themselves.

To the binners - hold your head up walk tall and proud becausewe were princes/princesses once.Thanks for making our world a better place by recycling what someone else threw away.

And remember the Highway of Tears so that it doesn't happen again.

Dawn Derrick lives on the Gitaus subdivsion of the Kitselas band.

© Copyright 2006 Terrace Standard

Terrace Standard

Monday, October 16

Missing Pieces - RADIO Missing, Murdered & Unidentified

Missing Pieces - RADIO
Missing, Murdered & Unidentified

Tuesdays @ 7 central / 8 eastern -
Listen Online at -

Live from Livingston, Tennessee~

Our next of my best friends...

Wayne Leng - Tuesday, October 17st 2006
The Missing Women of Vancouver

FYI - Current as of the August 31, 2006 indexing

According to the FBI-NCIC there are (approximately) 108,145 Missing Persons listed in their system. Children and adult. (DOWN from last months total of 110,995 )

There are (approximately) 6,118 Unidentified Persons listed their system. Children and adult.
(Up from last months total of 6,091)

Upcoming guests include -- schedule(s) pending / subject to change

Patty Starr - Tuesday, October 31st 2006

Elizabeth Sinor - November 2006, ,

Elizabeth Hudson -
Author of Snow Bodies

Sherry Smith -
Mother of murdered Bo Upton
Bo Upton / Ryan Shangraw - double homicide

Family Member of Jonathan Thrasher -

John "Alan: Tate - November 2006
survivor - "Message in the Bottle"

Louis C. Smit - December 2006
The NOMIS project -
The Network of Medicolegal Investigative Systems

Elizabeth Pendergrass - November 2006
Buried for more than 20 years...
the family learn the woman they buried is a stranger.
Where's Leoma?

Laura James -
Clews The Historic True Crime Blog
CLEWS is a weblog devoted to the discovery
and dissemination of the fascinating stories to be
found where murder, history, and journalism overlap.

Ryan Allred - December 2006

Brother of Vickie Bertram

30 Years Later, Her Death Remains a Mystery

And many more....

Past shows --- complete synopsis and audio archive will also be available in the near future @

Date: October 10th, 2006 - Episode 6
Guest: Laura (Allen) Hood -
After October of 1978,
Laura's brother - Tony Allen - never called or came home again. 1197dmar .html JohnDoe once thought to be a match for Tony. Ruled out via DNA-

Date: October 3rd, 2006 - Episode 5
Guest: Shari Greer

Date: Sept 26, 2006 - Episode 4
Guest: Tracie Fleischhut /
Tuesday, October 3, 2006 at 4pm, Governor George E. Pataki
will be dedicating New York State�s Missing Persons Remembrance.

Date: Sept 19, 2006 - Episode 3
Guest: Jill Bennett /

Date: Sept 12, 2006 - Episode 2
Guest: Clay Stafford /

Date: Sept 5, 2006 - Episode 1
Guest: Patty Beeken /

---- all great guests and we hope to have them on again soon.

Missing Pieces is a program designed to raise public awareness
and encourage communications of information between people
who can help locate or identify individuals in cases that have
been classified as unsolved. Missing, Murdered & Unidentified.

If you have questions, comments about past shows and upcoming shows,
or if you want to suggest a guest or sub-topic ,
please contact :

Todd Matthews -
Host / Producer / Creator -
931 - 397 - 3893

Program Director / Assistant Producer

Eric Meadows - WCAN Co-host
voice mail 1 - 440 -326 - 0144

WCANradio - Executive Production -
1 - 866 - 921 - 2205

Friday, October 13

Activist John Turvey dead at 61

Neal Hall
Vancouver Sun

Friday, October 13, 2006

GLENN BAGLO/VANCOUVER SUN FILES John Turvey became a government social worker in the 1970s.

VANCOUVER - John Turvey, a former drug addict who went on to become a champion of the poor and downtrodden in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside for more than three decades, has died. He was 61.

Turvey died Wednesday morning in Comox. He had moved there with his wife Deb Turvey after he was diagnosed almost four years ago with mitochondrial myopathy, which interferes with nerve and muscle function.

Turvey was best known for founding the Vancouver needle exchange program -- one of the first in Canada -- and the Downtown Eastside Youth Activities Society (DEYAS).

The former social worker was forced to retire as executive director of DEYAS after he was diagnosed with the fatal disease.

"He fought all his life for everybody else and this was his fight," Deb Turvey, a former Downtown Eastside social worker, recalled Thursday. "He never quit trying. He never gave up."

She said one of the highlights of her husband's life occurred in March, when he was presented with the Order of Canada for his life's work helping others.

"It was a very proud moment for him," she recalled, adding the ceremony was held at the Comox recreation centre because John was too ill to travel to Ottawa. "He had his grandson on his knee and his family there."

She was John's full-time caregiver for the last three years, which brought them closer, but his death still came as a shock, she said. "I'm going to miss him so much."

At the time he was awarded the Order of Canada, John Turvey told The Vancouver Sun that his greatest achievement in life was discovering the wonders of family with his wife Deb and son Chad from another marriage, who came into his life after years of estrangement.

"Here's a guy with little experience with a functional family," Turvey said about himself at the time. "Now I'm experiencing family. I'm overwhelmed, excited."

His wife said a private memorial will be held in Comox for family and friends and a public memorial is being planned for Vancouver, although no dates have been set.

Turvey also received the Order of British Columbia in 1984 and was recognized in 1988 by the Atlanta Center for Disease Control for his plan to make needles readily available to Vancouver drug addicts to reduce the spread of the disease.

He was the son of fundamentalist Baptist parents in Chilliwack. He ran away from home at age 13, when he became a heroin addict, but had turned his life around by his early 20s.

He first became a government social worker and began working in the 1970s with street kids, who respected Turvey because he had experienced addiction and life on the street.

He later started DEYAS and began handing out free condoms to street prostitutes, whom he respected as part of the community and later referred to as sex trade workers.

One night, one of the prostitutes suggested to Turvey that he should be handing out free hypodermic needles so junkies would stop sharing needles, which was causing the spread of hepatitis and HIV.

That led to him pioneering Vancouver's first free needle exchange, which he is credited with doing without government assistance. The exchange now gives out more than three million needles a year.

"He was a pioneer in the realm of harm reduction," recalled Bob Sarti, a longtime resident of the Downtown Eastside and board member of the Carnegie Centre.

"We have to recognize that he was the first person out there on Hastings Street, handling out needles and condoms," he said. "Creating the needle exchange was a mind-blowing thing for the city. It was the first thing that set everything else in motion."

Obituary of John Turvey

© The Vancouver Sun 2006

Victoria woman's DNA at pig farm

Police question how the sex-trade worker got to the Port Coquitlam home of Robert (Willie) Pickton

Lori Culbert
Vancouver Sun

Thursday, October 12, 2006

CREDIT: Glenn Baglo, Vancouver Sun file. RCMP Cpl. Pierre Lemaitre said finding Clark's DNA on the farm was "unexpected" because she was not known to come to Vancouver.

The Missing Women's Task Force is trying to retrace the steps of Victoria prostitute Nancy Clark, who disappeared in 1991, after confirming her DNA was found on the Port Coquitlam pig farm of accused serial killer Robert (Willie) Pickton.

This brings to 33 the total number of women whose DNA has been found so far on Pickton's farm, as DNA labs across the country continue to analyse exhibits seized from the property in 2002 and 2003.

RCMP Cpl. Pierre Lemaitre, who speaks for the task force, said it will join forces with Victoria police to figure out how Clark got to Port Coquitlam, when it was very out of character for her to leave the capital.

"[This] opens a whole new avenue which, of course, they're going to follow up on because no one knows at this point in time -- she was last seen in downtown Victoria -- how she ended up there," he said.

And the task force will also look at whether Pickton ever travelled to Vancouver Island. "I'm sure that's going to be a scenario that they'll look at," Lemaitre added.

A man who answered the phone at Clark's mother's Victoria house said the family did not want to speak about the development in the 15-year-old case.

Victoria police said Wednesday it was emotional for the family to hear this unexpected news after years of silence.

"I think [the family was] saddened, but at the same time relieved after quite some time of not hearing anything, suddenly getting a development like this," said Acting Insp. Les Sylven.

Pickton stands charged with killing 26 missing sex-trade workers whose DNA was located on the Port Coquitlam property.

Lemaitre said police will now put together a charge-approval report for Crown counsel regarding the Clark DNA.

However, Crown spokesman Stan Lowe said the prosecution is focusing on Pickton's first trial into six of the murder charges, which is expected to last most of next year. Only after that hearing is over, and before his next trial on the 20 counts begins, would the Crown consider any new charges against Pickton.

Lemaitre said finding Clark's DNA on the farm was "unexpected" because she was not known to come to Vancouver.

"The whole focus of the missing women's task force was to hone in on the missing women from the Downtown Eastside, and for this one to surface was obviously unusual," he said.

The task force is not opening up its investigation into other missing Vancouver Island prostitutes, unless evidence surfaces to suggest a link, Lemaitre said.

The 26 women Pickton is accused of killing disappeared between 1995 and 2001.

Clark would be one of the earliest known alleged victims linked to the farm.

Clark, also known as Nancy Greek, was 25 when she was last seen in downtown Victoria on the evening of Aug. 22, 1991. An extensive police investigation was conducted at that time.

She was not added to the official list of more than 60 missing women until December, 2001.

Concerns about Clark's well-being were raised one day after her disappearance because she had failed to return home to look after her two daughters -- aged eight months and eight years -- which was out of character.

"It was the birthday of her child that day, and for a sex street worker, she was a bit of a home-body. That's what was suspicious at the start, because she would never have done that," now-retired Victoria police Sgt. Don Bland said in 2001.

In an interview days after her disappearance, Clark's brother, Doug Greek, said his sister, who was on welfare, stopped working the streets after another Victoria sex-trade worker was found slain, but returned about two weeks before her disappearance.

- This story can be heard online after 10:30 a.m. today at

© The Vancouver Sun 2006

Wednesday, October 11

Victoria sex-trade worker linked to Pickton case

Nancy Clark disappeared from streets in August, 1991

Lori Culbert
Vancouver Sun

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The family of Nancy Clark, a Victoria sex-trade worker, was notified Tuesday that the task force probing the Port Coquitlam pig farm of accused serial killer Robert (Willie) Pickton has obtained evidence connecting her 1991 disappearance to its ongoing investigation.

Victoria police Acting Insp. Les Sylven said he could not confirm any further details about the connection between Clark and the task force, including whether police found her DNA on Pickton's farm.

"Investigators from the Victoria Police major crime unit received information from the missing women's task force that evidence has been obtained connecting the 1991 disappearance of Nancy Clark to their investigation on the Lower Mainland," Sylven said in a statement.

The task force has seized tens of thousands of exhibits from Pickton's farm, and some of that evidence is being analysed in police labs across the country.

"All I can say is that they collected some evidence -- that connects with our Nancy Clark missing person's file -- in relation to their investigation in the Lower Mainland," Sylven said in an interview Tuesday night.

He said he was not aware of any charges being laid in connection with Clark's disappearance.

Sylven said Victoria police "threw everything we had" at the Clark case, but had few leads in recent years. However, that has all changed now.

"This has opened up the investigation for us and we'll be working hard over the next little while to try to figure out what's happened," he said. "Although it's an old case, this is a new development so we're off and running again."

Pickton stands charged with killing 26 missing sex-trade workers whose DNA was located on Port Coquitlam property during a search between February 2002 and November 2003. The 26 women disappeared between 1995 and 2001.

"Earlier [Tuesday], members of Nancy Clark's immediate family were notified of the development," Sylven said.

This development could bring to 33 the number of women tied to the Pickton farm through evidence analysed by police, including:

- The 26 women he is charged with killing.

- Dawn Crey and Yvonne Boen, whose DNA was found on the Pickton farm, but police say there was not enough evidence to lay murder charges in those cases.

- Four unidentified women Pickton has not been charged with killing.

- Nancy Clark, although there is no indication if police intend to ask Crown counsel to approve a charge in the case.

The RCMP's media relations unit did not respond to phone messages.

Nancy Clark, also known as Nancy Greek, was 25 when she was last seen in downtown Victoria on the evening of Aug. 22, 1991. An extensive investigation was conducted at that time.

She was not added to the official list of more than 60 missing women until December, 2001.

In an interview with The Sun in the fall of 2001, now-retired Victoria police Sgt. Don Bland said he did not think Clark belonged on the list of missing women who mainly vanished from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Bland said Clark did not have a connection to Vancouver, and had only worked the streets in the capital.

Concerns about Clark's well-being were raised one day after her disappearance because she had failed to return home to look after her two daughters -- aged eight years and eight months -- which was out of character.

"It was the birthday of her child that day, and for a sex street worker, she was a bit of a home-body. That's what was suspicious at the start, because she would never have done that," said Bland.

In an interview with The Sun in 1991, just days after her disappearance, Clark's brother, Doug Greek, said he wasn't optimistic she would be found alive.

"I think she's dead somewhere," Greek said at the time. "I'd like to see the person or persons caught."

He said his sister, who was on welfare, stopped working the streets after another Victoria sex-trade worker was found slain, but returned about two weeks before her disappearance.

Pickton will face six counts of first-degree murder in his first trial, set to begin Jan. 8, 2007. Jury selection is scheduled for December. A separate trial on 20 counts is to follow. Pickton has pleaded not guilty on all counts.

© The Vancouver Sun 2006

Tuesday, October 10

Aboriginal women at risk

Balloons marked victims of violence

October 10, 2006

Jo-Ann Daniels's outrage echoed off the high-rise office buildings surrounding Churchill Square.

Her barely contained anger radiated over the small crowd clutching white balloons, ready to be released like prayers to the heavens. On each balloon was the name of a native woman who had been victimized by violence.

The one closest to me carried the name Maggie Lee Burke, 21, who vanished without a trace in 2004. Now her family is locked in a prison of unanswered questions, impotent anger and inconsolable grief.

High-risk lifestyle

Burke was one of thousands of native women across Canada who lived a so-called "high-risk lifestyle," which is inoffensive shorthand for drug use, prostitution and violence.

But as Daniels, who was speaking at a rally put on by the local chapter of Amnesty International and the Edmonton-based Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women, put it last week, "high risk, for aboriginal women, means simply being an aboriginal woman."

Daniels just completed a study of native women and violence for the institute.

The report will be made public later this year, but Daniels made it clear that her findings - while hardly surprising to anyone who has been paying attention - are nothing short of staggering.

She told the crowd that over the years, she has met thousands of native women across the country.

Of all those women, she knew of only two who had who remained untouched by violence, whether it's in their own homes, on the streets or elsewhere.

For some of us, it's tempting to dismiss the carnage as self-inflicted.

Media dwell on the street deaths, the ever-increasing body count of prostitutes - mostly native - who've been used and then tossed out like last week's garbage.
If they really wanted to, they could get off the streets, we say.

But the question hanging overhead is, what drives so many native women to the streets in the first place?

And what of all those tens of thousands who aren't living "a high-risk lifestyle" but still aren't safe in their own homes?

Statistics Canada says aboriginal women aged 25 to 44 are five times more likely to die violently than other women the same age.

The numbers are so horrifying that Amnesty International has gotten involved. NDP MLA Dave Eggen notes the significance of having a group that devotes its efforts to freeing political prisoners, exposing tyranny and fighting for human rights focusing on an issue in Canada.

"Normally they concentrate on dictatorships," he says.

IAAW head Muriel Stanley Venne says while the situation is bleak, there's plenty of cause for hope.

Stanley Venne says she was beaten and left for dead in alley back in the '70s. The attack was all but dismissed by police.

"In those days, you weren't taken seriously," she says.

But times have changed, she says, adding that she's delighted with Edmonton city police Chief Mike Boyd's assurances that he's committed to improving the situation.

Methods reviewed

For example, Boyd says the department's methods of dealing with missing persons reports are under review.

Under particular scrutiny will be how the "element of risk" in each case is assessed to determine how serious the report is.

He also wants to see more "cultural sensitivity" used in the handling of all cases.

Boyd says police departments across the country are examining how they handle these cases.

Sunday, October 8

Morningstar: A Warrior's Spirit

An introduction to Morningstar Mercredi and her book 'Morningstar: A Warrior's Spirit.' I first met Morningstar about 3 years ago by way of the internet in relation to the missing vancouver women. She has written a powerful story about her life in the book 'Morningstar: A Warrior's Spirit." Morningstar has been a member of the vancouvermissing group since Feb 2004 and in one of her postings to the group which appears at the end of this post, she had welcomed families to share memories of our missing and murdered loves which would appear in the chapter "Warrior Women."

Morningstar's book launch will start this month: Morningstar: A Warrior's Spirit is out!!!! and being launched here in Edmonton October 14-15, Saskatoon September 26-30, 2006 and hopefull in Vancouver sometime soon.


Morningstar: A Warrior's Spirit
Morningstar Mercredi

A powerful and moving story of one woman's victory over abuse, poverty, and discrimination to recover her life, her self-esteem and the love of her son.

Morningstar Mercredi was born and lived in the north – Fort Chipewayan and Fort McMurray in Alberta, Uranium City in Saskatchewan, and a number of small communities. Sexually abused from an early age, by family members and the boyfriends she turned to for consolation, she was promiscuous, alcoholic and a drug user by the time she was thirteen. She had a son when she was seventeen and then married at eighteen. Everything was a struggle. Days and weeks of sobriety were followed by weeks and months of drinking and self-abuse.

Then, when her son was four, things began to change. Morningstar found support, from the community, from her son, and from within herself, to be a good mother, find employment, keep relationships and reconnect with her family. Today, she is a strong and creative member of her community, and eager to tell her story of defeat and ultimate triumph.

Sadly, the first part of this story is all too common, while the second is all too rare. Morningstar not only discovers her self worth and esteem, she traces her abuse to its origin in history, freeing her from her cycle of self sabotage as she comes to terms with not only her history but a shared history among thousands of survivors who struggle with residential school syndrome. She is honest and self-critical in her descriptions of many attempts and repeated failures. She gives enormous credit to her son, for his constant love, his determination to be honest with her, and his unfailing confidence in her ability to succeed.

ISBN: 978-1-55050-346-3 or 1-55050-346-4 * $19.95 * 5½" x 8½" * Paper
256 Pages * Aboriginal Memoir * September 2006


Mercredi, Morningstar
Morningstar Mercredi is a storyteller, actress, social activist, poet, playwright, researcher and multi-media communicator. She has previously published one non-fiction children's book, Fort Chipewayan Homecoming, which was a finalist in the Silver Birch young reader's choice award in Ontario. She has also had poetry published in the Gatherings Anthology series. She has done extensive acting work in film, television, radio and on the stage.

Born in Uranium City, Saskatchewan, Morningstar Mercredi has lived in Alberta -- Fort Chipewayan, Calgary, and Fort McMurray; Saskatchewan - Saskatoon and Prince Albert; British Columbia - Cranbrook, Kimberly, Merritt, Penticton, and Surrey; and the Northwest Territories - Yellowknife and Rae/Edze NWT. She also settled for a time in Gisbourne, New Zealand and Nowra, Australia. She currently makes Edmonton her home.

She is honest and self-critical in her descriptions of many attempts and repeated failures. She gives enormous credit to her son, for his constant love, his determination to be honest with her, and his unfailing confidence in her ability to succeed.

Morningstar: A Warrior's Spirit

From the author:

I opened myself totally, my experiences, my life, and with the story I wrote. I would have done a great injustice to myself and the reader had I been cautious of how, or what I wrote. As it is, I did not provide every detail, there were parts of my story I could not write. It would have been too painful. I wrote just enough to provide a glimpse into my life without completely traumatizing the reader.

Over the two years of writing, rewriting etc and then editing, I returned to events that were not only traumatizing when they happened, i.e, writing about being sexually abused. This wasn't an easy task yet I had to tell it as it was; consequently, I road a fast and furious emotional roller coaster during that time.

Morningstar's book is available at McNally Robinson Books: , , Chapter's Bookstore: and many other stores.

Saturday, October 7

Prostitution need not always be with us

SOCIETY I Before we just give up and condemn women and children to this enslavement, why don't we tackle the basic problems?

Vancouver Sun
Saturday, October 07, 2006
CREDIT: Mark van Manen, Vancouver Sun
It's a terrible indictment of our society that prostitutes are 40 to 120 times more likely to be beaten, raped or killed than the general population.

It's inevitable. I'm so sick of hearing that about prostitution, poverty, homelessness and child abuse. I'm tired of people pronouncing it a fact of the human condition, sighing and then going on about ways to regulate the misery inflicted on the weak and the vulnerable.

I'd like to blame demographics: Too few idealistic and optimistic youth and too many worn-out, tired old baby boomers who long ago gave up on saving the world. But that's too simple, too easy and too damned depressing.

Besides, when did we suddenly give up on change when so much has been accomplished in the past 50 years?

People once laughed at the idea that women are equal to men and that children have rights.

Twenty years ago, people believed clearcut logging would continue until British Columbia was as denuded of trees as Scotland or Switzerland. Nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States seemed certain. Whole generations grew up believing that the Iron Curtain would last forever.

So before we ensure that enslaving women and children to the supposedly insatiable desires of men by legalizing prostitution and before we condemn generations to desperate measures by not addressing poverty and abuse, why don't we at least consider that it need not be?

Why don't we consider tackling them with all of the resources of our society instead of making excuses?

Everybody agrees that, with a few exceptions, people don't see selling their bodies as a career choice. Everybody agrees that at the root of prostitution is poverty, desperation, addiction and abuse. Finally, everybody agrees that regardless of the hows and whys of women and children prostituting themselves, it's a terrible indictment of our society that they are 40 to 120 times more likely to be beaten, raped or killed than the general population.

But what's happening in the public debate is that, having acknowledged those things, almost everyone glides on to talk only about how to keep the prostitutes safe while they're working.

Pivot Legal Society identified the root causes that people are entering the sex trade at an average age of 14 in Voices of Dignity in 2004. But in its most recent report called Beyond Decriminalization, it concluded that "criminal law reform is the first step towards a shift from the status quo, where sex workers are subject to extreme levels of violence and social marginalization, to a society where sex workers are empowered to create safe and dignified working conditions."

The recently released Living in Community report called Balancing Perspective on Vancouver's Sex Industry didn't make a specific recommendation on the laws. But sheer weight of words has it leaning toward decriminalization and legalization as in Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Australia.

Sweden dared swim upstream against a worldwide wave of legalizing prostitution. It rejected the inevitability of prostitution and human trafficking and that women and children would be forever sold as commodities.

Instead, it criminalized all aspects of the purchasing of sexual services, saying prostitution is incompatible with gender equity, human rights and human dignity.

But it was dismissed in a single sentence in Living in Community's report.

"The Swedish move to a more stringent prohibitionist policy follows a history of the Swedish state enacting stricter laws where other countries have been more liberal and pragmatic, and less focused on the moral authority."

Sweden's Violence Against Women Act defines prostitution as a serious form of male violence against women and children because the perpetrators are invariably men. And it links legalization and decriminalization to the explosion in human trafficking worldwide.

To coincide with the act becoming law on Jan. 1, 1999, the Swedish government increased spending on social services that make it easier for prostitutes to exit the trade and less desperate to prostitute themselves in the first place.

Before the law was in place, an estimated 2,500 to 3,000 women and children were prostituted in Sweden. The most recent estimate is that there are now 1,500 and approximately 400 respectively working on the streets.

Critics -- including Vancouver East MP Libby Davies who chaired the parliamentary committee looking into prostitution -- says that the "prohibitionist approach" has driven vulnerable women and children further underground.

Vancouver Centre MP Hedy Fry, a committee member, agrees and has called the Swedish system "hypocritical" and "illogical."

But when Gunilla Eckberg, the special adviser to the Swedish government on human trafficking and prostitution, squared off against Davies and Fry at a committee hearing a year ago, she denied that the number of illegal brothels had increased in Sweden. But she noted that in Melbourne, Australia, the number of illegal brothels has gone to 400 from 100 after legalization.

The number of child prostitutes in the Netherlands jumped to 15,000 in 2001 after legalization, from 4,000 in 1996.

Eckberg also disagreed with MPs' characterization that she and other Swedes are being "judgmental" of other women's job choices.

"The situation of being a prostitute is the same as being a battered woman," she said."The violence you experience is normalized. To live in that situation and to find dignity in being abused, many women will of course say they have chosen this and that it's work."

It's probably not surprising that, like the parliamentary committee, both Pivot and Living in Community have played down the Swedish experience. Both relied on advice from groups like Prostitutes Empowerment Education and Resource Society (PEERS) and Prostitution Alternatives Counselling and Education Society (PACE).

But they excluded other women's groups. Many of those groups, including the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres, the Native Women's Association of Canada, Vancouver Rape Relief and Women Against Violence Against Women, support the Swedish model.

Talk is cheap and dreams are free. So let's have lots of both from everyone who's interested before we reach any conclusions. Let's have lots of facts and research on the table.

And, let's jettison the labels like prohibitionist, moralistic and right-wing that taint the discussion.

© The Vancouver Sun 2006

Fate of Pickton farm being closely watched

Property should be awarded in trust for farmer's alleged victims, family argues

Globe and Mail

October 7, 2006

VANCOUVER -- The family of Andrea Joesbury filed a civil lawsuit against Robert Pickton days after the Port Coquitlam pig farmer was charged with her murder in 2002. They hoped, if they were successful, that his property would be awarded in trust for a memorial to all the women he is accused of killing.

Their interest in the property was registered with authorities, ensuring that the land could not be sold before their court case was completed. But they decided to wait for the homicide charge against Mr. Pickton to be resolved before going ahead in court with their claim.

However, another court case, begun by his brother, David Pickton, has now caught their attention.

David Pickton will be in court Oct. 18 in an effort to overturn a decision by assessment authorities to classify the farm as a mostly residential property. The land would have a significantly higher value as a residential property and the property tax bill would soar by several thousands of dollars.

What happens if the new assessment sticks and the family stops paying its property taxes, asked Victoria lawyer Peter Firestone, who represents the family of Ms. Joesbury, in an interview yesterday.

"The assessment does not matter to me, except the assessment may have a bearing if they don't pay it, because, as you know, there will be a tax sale," he said.

The Joesbury family has not been involved in the assessment dispute and no one has spoken with him about the case, Mr. Firestone said.

But the family still expects the farm to be available to them if they succeed in court with their civil lawsuit.

"The big picture here is we're hoping to realize on a judgment which we anticipate obtaining," Mr. Firestone said.

After an unprecedented investigation on the property, police alleged the site was the deadliest crime scene ever in Canadian history. Mr. Pickton is to stand trial on six murder charges, including the death of Ms. Joesbury, beginning Jan. 8. He has also been charged with 20 additional murders as part of Vancouver's Missing Women's case. He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

He was arrested almost five years ago, on Feb. 22, 2002, and charged with Ms. Joesbury's death on April 9, 2002. Ms. Joesbury's family launched the civil lawsuit against Mr. Pickton on April 24, 2002.

David Pickton co-owns the 6.1-hectare site with Robert Pickton and their sister, Linda Wright. Ms. Joesbury's lawsuit makes a claim against the three co-owners on the basis that the siblings should have been aware of what Robert Pickton was doing on the property.

The land has been unused since the police investigation on the property began on Feb. 5, 2002.

The most recent assessment places the value of the land as a residential property at $7.1-million. Although zoned for agricultural use, the land is adjacent to a residential community and a golf course.

As farmland, the property would be worth less than $1-million. In documents submitted to court, Mr. Pickton stated he intends to use the land for hay production and hay sales. Efforts to initiate farming on the land have been hampered by the two-year police investigation at the property, the documents stated. David Pickton did not respond to requests this week for an interview.

Mr. Firestone said he does not expect liability for Ms. Joesbury's death to be an issue if Mr. Pickton is convicted in the criminal trial. "The questions will become one of damages and ability to collect," he said.

The Joesbury family is one of five claims against the property. The federal government has a court judgment from July of 2002, for outstanding taxes of $4,525.30 plus interest, compounded daily. As well, the B.C. government registered a $10-million mortgage against the property on Feb. 28, 2003, as security for payment of legal fees for Mr. Pickton's defence against the homicide charges.

The mortgage was in addition to a claim against the property for $375,000 that Mr. Pickton's lawyer, Peter Ritchie, registered in April, 2002, to cover his fees.

Mr. Ritchie transferred his interest to the provincial government after the court ordered the government to pick up Mr. Pickton's legal bill in order to ensure that he could properly defend himself against the murder charges. Also, a credit union provided a mortgage of $1.3-million against the property in 1998.

Mr. Firestone said government claims against the property may take precedent over the claims of Ms. Joesbury and other victims' families. But that does not diminish their interest in the fate of the property.

"This is the only asset I am aware of that would be available for damages for all these women," Mr. Firestone said.

© Copyright 2006 Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, October 6

Parents of missing native woman feel ignored

Saskatchewan couple take cause to Ottawa

The Canadian Press
Published: Friday, October 06, 2006

SASKATOON - More resources are needed for police to handle missing person cases and reports of missing people need to be taken more seriously, the parents of a missing aboriginal woman say.

Pauline and Herb Muskego were in Ottawa on Wednesday spreading a message of hope to politicians and families of other missing aboriginal women.

Their daughter, Daleen Muskego, vanished from Saskatoon 21/2 years ago.

The Muskegos are still following every tip about the location of their daughter.

"We need to do more for our missing children," Pauline Muskego said from her hotel near Parliament Hill. "We're emphasizing that if this was your missing daughter, what would you do? You'd do anything to find your child."

Daleen, a 26-year-old wife and the mother of a four-year-old girl, had just finished her third year of studies at the University of Saskatchewan's college of education when she vanished.

It took police nearly a year to call for a thorough search for Daleen.

"The police reassured us that she was out and about and had been spotted," Pauline Muskego said.

"They told us to keep waiting because she'll come home. We've been waiting two years and four months now and she's still not home."

The Muskegos were invited by Amnesty International and other advocacy groups to speak at a rally and to politicians in Ottawa about their experience trying to find their daughter.

A silent vigil was also held to observe the two-year anniversary of the release of the Stolen Sisters report, which detailed the discrimination and violence against aboriginal women in Canada.

While in Ottawa, the Muskegos met with Saskatchewan Liberal MP Garry Merasty, Liberal MP and Indian affairs critic Anita Neville and Conservative MP for Battlefords-Lloydminster, Gerry Ritz.

"I spoke from my heart and told them about my granddaughter who's still waiting for her mom," Pauline Muskego said. "She wants us to knock on every door in Saskatoon and ask if they've seen her mother."

The family still receives tips about the whereabouts of their daughter, the latest in August.

Relatives went to investigate the tip in Vancouver but failed to find Daleen.

© The Edmonton Journal 2006

'It's my duty to be there' Murder victim's sister to attend Pickton trial

By AJAY BHARDWAJ, Staff Writer
Edmonton Sun

October 5, 2006

After an agonizing wait, Elana Papin says she’ll attend the trial of accused serial killer Robert Pickton, the man accused of murdering her sister.

The B.C. government announced plans last month to fund travel and accommodation for families to attend Pickton’s trial.

The pig farmer is accused of 26 counts of first-degree murder. Pickton’s trial on six counts -- including the death of Enoch resident Georgina Papin -- begins in January.

“In my heart, I feel like it’s my duty to be there,” said the 37-year-old Elana.

Papin and her sister Bonnie Fowler reported Georgina missing, but Vancouver cops would only say she likely had overdosed on drugs or had disappeared of her own accord, she recalled.

Georgina, a drug-addicted prostitute who plied her trade on Vancouver’s gritty downtown east side, was discovered on Pickton’s farm. DNA samples taken from her family in Enoch and Edmonton showed a match.

Papin said she must attend the hearing to learn what happened to her sister and to move on with the rest of her life.

“We still haven’t had a funeral for her,” said Elana.

Fowler applauded the B.C. government’s willingness to pay for the family’s travel because she can‘t go alone.

“Just as long as there’s somebody (here),” said Fowler. “There’s nobody here.”
Papin railed against proposed plans by Pickton’s family to begin farming the land again.

She said the land should be used to build a memorial for the women found slain there. An agency should also reach out to help abused women and men, she added.

Thursday, October 5

Highway of Tears investigator miffed

Oct 5, 2006

A private investigator looking into the cases of murdered and missing women along Hwy 16 is bristling at the suggestion he is not cooperating with police.

Staff Sgt. John Ward, an RCMP communications officer, said Ray Michalko has been warned not to reveal information and to share any leads he picks up.

“We have been in contact with the private investigator and he understands very clearly that should he have information that someone comes forward with... he should be giving us a call and we expect that to happen should he uncover something,” said Ward.

Michalko, who has been collecting leads along the highway, now dubbed the Highway of Tears, plans to come to Smithers this month to talk with tipsters and five people of interest who he believes may be able to lead him toward the solution to the decades-old mystery of who has been abducting and murdering women along the highway between Prince George and Prince Rupert.

“If this gentleman, Mr. Michalko, says he’s got five people of interest then we certainly want to know who they are and we’ll take it from there,” Ward said.

Ward believes the RCMP can investigate more easily than a private investigator.

“We are professional police officers, professional investigators and major crime investigators that have been working on this for some time,” he said.

“We’ve got behaviour experts, forensic experts and DNA experts. I don’t know if the investigator has that kind of support behind him.

“I would tend to think that’s probably not the case.

“If we can get information from someone who might give us something to move the investigations forward then we’ll take it.”

In a letter to The Interior News, Michalko said not giving information to police was never his intent, and questioned why the RCMP is focussing on him and not the case.

“As a private investigator I have no power of arrest, what else would I do with the leads I obtain, other than turn them over to the police?

“I’ve been trying to say since I first became involved that there is no question that the RCMP have the training, investigative skill and recourses necessary to solve these crimes and/or missing person cases, as Staff Sgt. Ward suggests.

“So with all of this in mind, it begs the question that is on everyone’s mind, why, with all of their expertise and recourses, have the RCMP been unable to solve any of these crimes and/or missing person cases?

Ward’s comments demanding Michalko’s cooperation also rubbed the Valley Pacific Investigations P.I. the wrong way.

“In fact, finding a police officer that was willing to establish a dialogue and/or working relationship with me has been an ongoing problem from the start and it’s taken the RCMP seven months for someone to finally contact me, to establish a line of communication,” he said.

“I think Staff Sgt. Ward should turn his soap box around and give the lecture to his own members.”

Ward understands that tipsters may not want to talk to police.

“Sometimes people feel more comfortable talking to someone who’s not a police officer,” he said, adding that if these people provide information to aid in the investigation, that’s a benefit.

While up north, Michalko intends to investigate a number of the cases.

“I’m getting a fair amount of information and it’s not really specific to anyone,” he said.

“I think I’ve got some pretty good information that needs to be verified.”
Michalko has altered his initial theory on the identity of those responsible for the missing and murdered women.

“I think one person is involved in a couple murders or disappearances, but I don’t think one person is responsible for all of them,” he said.

“I think it’s just sort of a random act in some cases: somebody at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Michalko will finance his return trip with money raised by a Lower Mainland women’s group who wants to help with his search.

“We’re not talking heaps of money but money that will help with the hard costs: travel, air and car rental that makes a big difference,” he said.

Michalko will ensure flyers he’s made up are delivered to the southwest end of Prince George prior to his visit.

The flyers ask that anyone with information about the disappearances of Leah Alishia Germaine or Nicole Hoar, who went missing near Smithers, to call the police or Michalko.

He hasn’t spoken to any of the families of the missing or murdered women since his trip here this spring.

He forwarded some tips to the Prince George RCMP during his previous visit and hasn’t heard back, adding a response from police wasn’t something he expected.
Nearly six months after announcing a major review of the Highway of Tears, RCMP continue to enter data into a sophisticated computer program.

RCMP said it will allow investigators to look for connections and cross reference details of the various cases in a faster and more comprehensive manner than has previously been possible.

Eight investigators and data entry people are doing the work, which Ward describes as massive and detailed and necessary before the program can be activated.

“You can imagine that with the age of some of the files, the amount of data is huge and doing it is time consuming,” said Ward.

Previous reviews of missing persons files involved cross referencing information by hand.

There have been two major reviews, one in 1995 and another in 2004, plus at least one mini review over the years.

Seven of the nine women on the official RCMP list were missing as of 1995 and the number has now grown to nine.

The first person on the list is Monica Ignas of Terrace who was 15 when she was last seen Dec. 13, 1974 in Thornhill and the most recent one is Tamara Chipman, who was 22 when last seen Sept. 21, 2005 hitchhiking just outside of Prince Rupert.

The 1995 review followed four women disappearing in 1994 and in 1995. Two were from Prince George, one from Smithers and the fourth was Lana Derrick, who was 19 when she disappeared from the Terrace area on Oct. 7, 1995.

Ward said that when all the data is entered, investigators will have the capability to look for connections or other items of interest that may not be possible by a manual cross-referencing effort.

He isn’t sure if the program has been used for other investigations but did say its level of sophistication and ability to track information will help investigators.

“What I can tell you is that while we may not have charged anyone, we may have closed off on a number of suspects. I want to choose my words carefully here but we may have been able to eliminate people to ensure we don’t start working and write a report to Crown counsel about the wrong person,” said Ward.

Based on those earlier reviews, RCMP are not convinced there is a serial killer at work along Hwy16.

“But the guys have to keep an open mind so they don’t exclude anything,” said Ward.

One factor to consider when thinking about the possibility of a serial killer is the time span in the RCMP list. It’s been nearly 32 years since Ignas - the first person on that list - disappeared.

RCMP aren’t disclosing the criteria of why some people are on their official list and why others are not.

Ten days ago, thanks to news reports from Prince Rupert, a name surfaced that isn’t on the list - Mary Jane Hill from Kincolith.

She was 31 when her body was found in 1978 20 miles east of Prince Rupert on Hwy16.
“At this time, police suspect foul play but the incident is still under investigation,” a newspaper story at the time stated.

Hill’s daughter, Vicki Hill, now 29, was six months old when her mom was found. She wants police to go back and look at the case in light of the other disappearances and deaths.

“We’re aware of that and we’re going to wait until the review is completed to see if it fits in,” said Ward of the Hill death.

Three of the nine women on the list have since been found dead and police aren’t releasing details as to the circumstances of those deaths.

“There’s a reason those names are on the list. If the deaths were for some other reason, they would not be there,” said Ward.

The number of people - nine - on the list has also been open to debate and conjecture.

Aielah Saric-Auger isn’t on the list. She was 14 and a student at D.P. Todd Secondary School in Prince George when she went missing Feb. 2 of this year.

Her body was found east of Prince George on Feb. 10 but the nine on the list went missing on the stretch of Hwy16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert.

While not on the RCMP list, the teen is on a list released in June as part of a report prepared by organizers of a symposium into the missing women held in March in Prince George.

“The circumstances are different and we’re not disclosing them. It’s still under investigation,” said Ward of the Saric-Auger death.

Also on the symposium list but not on the RCMP one is Cecilia Anne Nikal from the Smithers area.

She disappeared in 1989 with the symposium report indicating she was last seen in Smithers. RCMP say she was reported missing in Vancouver.

Some reports have pegged the number of missing at more than 30, but there has never been a roster of names and circumstances attached to that figure.

Ward said people should not get the impression RCMP investigators are focussing all of their resources on their missing list.

All of those on the list are from the area between Prince Rupert and Prince George, the stretch of Hwy16 that connects them. That also creates the impression the RCMP is limiting the scope of their investigation, said Ward.

“We’re not excluding a whole bunch of other things,” said Ward of work done by investigators.

Other people who also have missing relatives elsewhere need to know police continue to work on their cases, he said.

“Sometimes, we have a real problem with the Highway of Tears and the context of it being between Prince Rupert and Prince George,” the staff sergeant continued.

And even though data from the RCMP’s missing list is still being entered into that sophisticated computer program, Ward said that doesn’t prevent investigators from working on the files.

“The major crime investigators do meet and they meet regularly to discuss cases,” he said.

© Copyright 2006 Smithers Interior News