Tuesday, November 28

City streets as mean as ever

Prostitute hearing stories of beatings and rapes

November 28, 2006

It's been half a year since a prostitute's body has surfaced near Edmonton, but people in and around the business say city streets are as mean as ever.

"We can't forget about it because the violence towards the sex-trade workers is on the increase," said prostitute Carol-Lynn Strachan, who once left the streets but found herself on her old haunts earlier this year.

"These are human beings we're talking about," said Strachan. "They're not expendable."
Hard facts on the violence are tough to come by, but Strachan said she's seeing and hearing more and more stories of beatings, rapes and extortion.

Kate Quinn, who heads the Prostitution Awareness and Action Foundation of Edmonton, said the violence extends beyond the physical.

Quinn recently had coffee with a woman working her way clean and off the streets who told her dope dealers know when support cheques are due. That's when they target the sex-trade workers, Quinn was told.

"That's another form of violence," said Quinn. "It's preying on vulnerable people and their addictions."

Project KARE spokesman Const. Tamara Bellamy said even though Thomas Svekla was arrested in connection with the homicide of sex-trade worker Theresa Merrie Innes in May, they're still trying to solve a list of other homicides.

"I certainly don't want to instil fear in the public," Bellamy said, "but that's what we said - that there's a serial killer (operating around Edmonton). And Mr. Svekla has been charged with one homicide.

"We have other persons of interest, as we always have."

Svekla is slated to have a four-week preliminary hearing in Fort Saskatchewan provincial court starting on Jan. 8 on the murder charge and a second charge of interfering with human remains.
Police allege he killed Innes and then hauled her body in a hockey bag back to Fort Saskatchewan.

The last body found was that of Bonnie Lynn Jack, 37, discovered by a couple walking near Township Road 542 and Range Road 225, south of Fort Saskatchewan, May 16.

Friday, November 24


This from Hazel8500

STEELE - Sheila Rose Jones Steele passed away on Saturday, November 11, 2006 in Saskatoon.

She is survived by her two sons, Kevin Steele (son of John Steele) and Marlon Gidluck (son of Barry Gidluck).

She is also survived by her mother Laura Jones and four sisters: Patricia LaBorde (George), Monica (Roger Annis), Mary Lou (Bob Holoch) and Donalda (Dale Ripplinger), nieces Heather LaBorde, Ella Markan and Katherine Ripplinger and nephews Cameron LaBorde, Daniel and Steven Ripplinger and Zak Markan.

She was predeceased by her father Arthur C. Jones. Born in Milden Hospital, she grew up on a farm near Zealandia and attended school in Zealandia and Rosetown. Sheila was an activist for social justice all her life, most recently through her website www.injusticebusters.com .

A Memorial will be held at the Heritage Hall at Zion Lutheran Church (323 4th Avenue N) at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday November 16, 2006. (Guest Parking at McKague's Funeral Home, at 3rd Ave. & 20th St.) Arrangements are entrusted to John Janex of McKague's Funeral Chapel (664-3131).

Published in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix on 11/14/2006.
Notice Guest Book


Wednesday, November 22

American Indians find voices in film

Delfin Vigil
Sunday, October 26, 2006

When the American Indian Film Festival opens Friday in San Francisco, it will be 31 autumns old. And like the season it is celebrated in, the festival showcases films that fall from a world warm with history while facing an industry that can be cold and cynical.

"It used to be if you were dealing with homelessness or alcoholism, you might get some support from foundations and government grants. But if you're talking about media, arts and culture involving American Indians, people who could help always found that hard to grasp," says Michael Smith, who founded the nonprofit American Indian Film Festival in Seattle in 1975 before moving it to San Francisco two years later. "At one point there were white arts groups getting funded for work on Indian arts projects. But our Indian groups wouldn't be given a chance to do things on our own."

That has changed in recent years, as Indian tribes with lucrative casino enterprises realized that they could give back to their communities by helping fund Indian arts groups like Smith's American Indian Film Festival.

"I can mention at least 30 tribes who have helped," says Smith, who watched the film festival budget soar from $10,000 in past years to upward of $175,000 this year. "It's a relationship built on trust and respect. They know that, even without any help or financial support, we'd still be finding a way to keep this film festival going."

Opening this year's festival will be "The Velvet Devil," showing at the Lumiere Theatre along with two other films: "Teachings of the Tree People," and "The Battle of Peter LeFarge."
Starring and created by Andrea Menard, "The Velvet Devil" is a one-woman show about a fictional diva from the Metis tribe who turns her back on her people in search of fame and fortune in Toronto's jazz scene of the 1940s.

"That was a time when the Metis people were keeping quiet," says Menard, a Metis from Canada. "Velvet wants to dream bigger and louder. She wants to be seen and wants to be known."

Since Velvet can pass for a white woman, she assimilates easily. But 12 years later, when her mother dies, assimilating back in her hometown isn't so easy.

"It's partly an identity issue, which is a universal thing," Menard says. "I'm a very light-skinned woman, and my father barely identified with his native side. Back then it was, if you could pass, you did. It's sort of like healing a family wound. Now this generation is asking, 'Why should we be ashamed?' and 'Let's be proud of who we are.' "

It's a common theme in American Indian film, Smith says. "We're seeing more of our people feeling comfortable writing stories about themselves. Our films are becoming more of a testament to awareness of native issues and native stories. We're still kind of in the infancy of this business, with few actors in prime television or big Hollywood productions. But we always have our stories that we know that we can tell best."

A case point is "Goodnight Irene," a 14-minute short capturing the awkward but poignant moments between an old Seminole woman and two young Seminole men stuck in a waiting room of an American Indian hospital.

"It's a classic story of a generational gap, but one that could only come from the perspective of people who have lived it," says Chad Burris, who produced the short. "Goodnight Irene" screens Nov. 10 at the Palace of Fine Arts, where the festival will also host its annual American Indian Motion Picture Awards Show.

One of the more intense and uncomfortable films in this year's festival is "Unnatural & Accidental," which screens at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Lumiere.
It's inspired by the true story of Gilbert Paul Jordan, "The Boozing Barber," a Canadian serial killer believed to be responsible for the deaths of several native women during the 1960s.
The film, which changed certain details to avoid legal ramifications, follows a guy who parties with native women, force-feeding them alcohol until they end up dead.

"The coroner never catches on and keeps assuming it's just another drunk native woman," says Carl Bessai, who directed "Unnatural & Accidental." "It's very disturbing stuff, but it also takes a much more magical and realist look at Skid Row and the derelict hotels filled with prostitutes and down-and-out women who become victims of this creep."

For Tantoo Cardinal, the lead actress in the film, the subject matter is precisely what American Indian films have to take on.

"It's an important film because it brings out an issue that most people want shoved under the rug," says Cardinal, who's been in numerous movies, including "Dances With Wolves." "Unless people are directly involved, they don't want to deal with it. They think it has nothing to do with them. But this society was built on our bones, and there is a lot hidden under there. If you refuse to recognize how this society was built, then the mystery remains."

THE 31ST ANNUAL AMERICAN INDIAN FILM FESTIVAL runs Friday through Nov. 11 at the Lumiere Theatre and the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. The festival concludes with the American Indian Motion Picture Awards Show. (415) 554-0525 or visit www.aifisf.com

Sunday, November 19

Cold case not linked to highway murders

Police lay charges in 16-year-old case

John ColebournThe Province
Sunday, November 19, 2006

RCMP remain tight-lipped about what helped them make an arrest in the 16-year-old unsolved murder of Cindy Burk.

But investigators are saying there is no link between the long-cold case in Dawson Creek and the unsolved Highway of Tears murders along Hwy. 16 between Prince Rupert and Prince George.

Burk, 21, a native raised in Regina, Sask., had only been living in northern B.C. a short time. She was last seen alive in mid-July 1990 near Fort St. John.

Her body was discovered on July 24 at Kiskatinaw Provincial Park near Dawson Creek.

RCMP spokesman Corp. Pierre Lemaitre said Friday that police are not divulging details that led to the arrest and second-degree murder charge against Paul Russell Deleno Felker, 60, in Fort St. John.

Lemaitre said Burk's family has been informed of the arrest.

"The family, they understand they are not privy to the information from the investigation," he said.

"After a 16-year investigation, the last thing we want is to have the case thrown out due to a technicality."

Lemaitre also said investigators believe there is no link between the Burk murder and the Highway of Tears murders, even if it appears the victims were all likely hitchhiking.

"We are going on record to say there is no connection," Lemaitre said. "When the evidence comes forward, it will prove that."

RCMP have offered a $100,000 reward and released a profile that suggests the killer or killers in the Highway of Tears murders drive a truck or SUV that is cleaned at unusual hours, may be a hunter, fisherman or camper, is comfortable

driving on country roads and is likely connected to towns south of Edmonton.


© The Vancouver Province 2006

Friday, November 17

Police charge man with 16-year-old murder

Last Updated: Friday, November 17, 2006 11:10 AM PT
CBC News

B.C. police have charged a 60-year-old man with second-degree murder in connection with the death of a young Yukon aboriginal woman 16 years ago.

The body of 21-year-old Cindy Burk, also known as Tina Washpan, was found near Kiskatinaw Provincial Park, between Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, on July 24, 1990.

Police say Paul Russell Deleno Felker was arrested Thursday in Fort St. John and is scheduled to appear in court Friday.

Police say Burk was last seen in Prophet River in mid-July and was thought to be heading to Saskatchewan where she had spent some of her life.

They say although they conducted an extensive search of the area and interviewed numerous people, no charges were ever laid.

Police say Burk's death is not connected to the deaths and disappearances of other women along the province's Highway 16, known as the highway of tears. Eleven young women have disappeared or been murdered there since 1990.

Last week, the RCMP said files on all unsolved deaths and disappearances from Kamloops to the Yukon were going to be analyzed in a computer database to search for any possible links.

Copyright © CBC 2006

Saturday, November 11

Pain in the faces

An artist works to capture the life experience and emotion behind the photographs of women missing from the Downtown Eastside

Lori Culbert
Vancouver Sun
Saturday, November 11, 2006

In the enormous portrait of the haunted-looking woman, her brown hair is carefully tucked behind her left ear, exposing a bare earlobe.

The artist, Pamela Masik, would like to paint an earring in that spot. But she doesn't know exactly what the earring looks like.

She can't ask the subject of her eight-by-10-foot painting. That's because Mona Wilson is dead, one of 26 women Port Coquitlam pig farmer Robert (Willy) Pickton is accused of murdering.

Shortly after Pickton's arrest in February 2002, Ada Wilson told a reporter she had bought a ruby heart pendant necklace with matching earrings for her younger sister for Christmas in 2001. But Ada was unable to exchange presents with her sister, who vanished without a trace in November of that year.

Now Masik would like to paint Mona Wilson wearing the jewelry she never got to open.

"The idea about Mona and the earrings is really important to me because I think that would be important to the person looking at the painting; there would be an emotional connection," said Masik, a Vancouver multi-media artist who paints, sculpts, sings, writes, produces videos, and designs clothing and jewelry.

"I would eventually like to get her sister to help me with that."

Masik has undertaken an extraordinary project, one she said she was driven to do through a sense of social responsibility.

She said she plans to paint portraits of all 69 women who police have identified as vanishing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside since 1978, including the 26 women Pickton is accused of killing. (Over the last year, three of the women on the police poster have been found alive, but Masik still wants to include them in her "Forgotten Faces" collection.)
Masik started painting last winter, and has 22 of the portraits started.

They are not small paintings that could be tucked away in the corner of a room and easily overlooked. They are so massive that Masik had the ceiling ripped out of her Yaletown studio to make it two storeys high, and had a pulley system installed so the portraits can be raised or lowered as she works on them.

The images of the eight women who, like Wilson, disappeared in 2001 will be 2.4 metres wide by three metres tall (eight feet by 10 feet). The others will be slightly smaller to illustrate the length of time since they faded away from the public.

Masik wants the women to be seen and celebrated in death. In life, she argued, they were judged for their drug use and reliance on the sex trade, and worked in a marginalized area that many people avoided.

"They were forgotten before they were even gone," Masik said. "[To many people] they didn't have a name or a face, they didn't exist, they were just a druggie or a prostitute on the street that didn't matter."

Masik has been painting professionally for six years, and has put on energetic performance art shows locally and internationally -- once locking herself in a sensory deprivation box for five days to enhance her creativity when she emerged.

She has not been commissioned to do the missing women portraits, and knows such a project could elicit many emotions, some potentially negative from families or others who may argue that painting the women continues to exploit them.

But Masik, who hopes her series of paintings will be shown in a gallery one day, says she is trying to confront the larger societal issue of the poor treatment of marginalized women in high-risk areas.

"Because Pickton is so much a part of the public eye through the media," Masik said, "it is as if we have a place for blame when [how the women allegedly died] is not the only issue. It is time to look at what has happened in the past and create change in a positive way."

Very few people have seen the unfinished portraits, but The Sun brought Sandra Gagnon, sister of missing woman Janet Henry, to Masik's studio to have a look.

Her sister's portrait towers over Gagnon. Bold red splashes of colour frame Henry's black hair, in stark contrast to her pale face. His lips are cherry red, curled slightly upwards in a reserved grin.

"Wow, that looks just like her," Gagnon said.

At first surprised by the size and intensity of some of the portraits, Gagnon told Masik that she supports efforts to remember the women.

Gagnon, like many relatives of the missing women, felt police weren't doing enough in the summer of 1997 to find her sister, so she walked the streets of the Downtown Eastside distributing posters of Henry and talking to strangers for any clues about her whereabouts.

Henry, who was 36 when she vanished, was the youngest of 12 siblings born to her Alert Bay family. She finished high school, got married, had a daughter Debra and owned a house.

But that all fell apart following her divorce, and a drug addiction consumed her life.

Grief haunted Gagnon in her search for her sister; it's an emotion she has felt for much of her life. Only three of her siblings are alive today, and most of the nine deaths were at the hands of violence or drugs and alcohol.

"Janet, before she ever ended up downtown, she owned a house in Maple Ridge, she had a big wedding," Gagnon told Masik. "She had a life, she was a person."

Over the years Gagnon has received some clues about Henry's last days. One woman told her in September that she was drinking with her sister in a Downtown Eastside hotel when Henry left with a man.

"Janet said [to her friend], 'Why don't you come with us? Gagnon said.

The friend declined to go. It was the last time she saw Henry, Gagnon said.

Pickton has not been charged in the Henry case.

"I think it's good that you take an interest in the missing women, because many people don't," Gagnon told Masik. "I think it's good when people take to heart that they were family members and had lives."

Dr. Andrew Buczkowski, a Vancouver General Hospital surgeon with an appreciation for art, first contacted The Sun about Masik's project because he believes positive attention should be drawn to the women, as opposed to the sensation of the crime, which will dominate headlines when Pickton's trial on six of the murder charges starts Jan. 8.

Buczkowski, who was trained in the St. Paul's and VGH emergency wards, often treated people from the Downtown Eastside.

He argued that instead of an impassioned outcry, society gave a collective shrug to the disappearance of these women from a poor neighbourhood. He believes initiatives like the paintings are a way for the community to confront past indifferences, and possibly create change for future generations.

The project, Masik said, is not a commercial endeavour, but as an altruistic one. The single mother of a ten-year-old boy is financing the portraits through the sale of her landscape paintings, and is holding an invitation-only fundraiser at her studio next month.

Masik said she started forming the idea of a "Forgotten Faces" series about two years ago, while commuting to her former studio in Gastown. She recognized an old friend working on a street corner, a woman she had last seen several years ago using hard drugs at a party.

"When I saw the woman on the street, and because I had a past relationship of knowing her, I thought, 'Wow, just a couple of different choices and anyone can be there. I could be her,'" she recalled.

Masik's paintings, which are full of texture, begin with several base coats in white to preserve the canvases and to almost sculpt the under-layers in preparation for the portrait.

"I know where there is going to be a cheekbone, I know where there is going to be an inset of the eye, where the hair is. I follow that with my fingers, and I build that up over a period of time," she said. "So there are so many layers of depth in each painting to convey: The depth of the story, the depth of the woman, the importance."

Masik is basing her towering portraits on the tiny photographs from the police missing persons poster so they will be recognizable to the public, but is then adding her own interpretation of what she sees in each woman's expression.

She tried to capture the "sexual vulnerability" she saw in Jennifer Furminger's photo, her attractive face framed by beautiful dark hair as she tilted her head for the camera with a slight grin. (Furminger disappeared in December 1999 and Pickton has been charged with her death.)

Masik focused on the look of determination on the face of Catherine Knight -- who disappeared in April 1995 and whose whereabouts remain unknown -- as she held her head high in the photo. "She really speaks to me. I see that anger. I see that: 'I give up, but I'm still a strong woman, I'm still here.'"

Tanya Holyk's bright eyes stare out from the canvas, as she flashes a white smile in stark contrast to her black, curly hair. "I see sort of like an innocent girl still, but I see a scared quality in her too," said Masik of Holyk, who disappeared in October 1996 and is another of Pickton's alleged victims.

Words like "mother" and "daughter" are subtly woven into the texture of some of the portraits, while others will have collages of newspaper clippings underneath the paint or symbols from native bands within the artwork, to illustrate something personal about each woman.

While all the portraits started by Masik have presented emotional challenges for various reasons, painting Wendy Allen -- one of the earliest disappearances on the long list -- was especially trying. With her trademark 1970's short haircut, Allen gazes innocently from the black-and-white photo on the poster, which indicates she vanished in 1979 and remains missing.

"I was in tears the entire time because I felt like that was my mother," Masik recalled.

But one of Masik's strongest ties to the portraits may be to the first one she said she intuitively chose to paint: Mona Wilson, the most recent disappearance on the police list.

"This face is determined, sad, angry and strong all at once. And beautiful," Masik said.

All she needs now is an earring to complete the painting.


For more information about the project, visit www.Masik.ca.


- The eight women who disappeared in 2001 will be eight feet wide (2.4 metres) by 10 feet (3 metres) tall.

- The nine women who vanished in 1999 and 2000 will be slightly smaller, measuring eight feet wide (2.4 metres) by 9.5 feet (2.9 metres).

- The 24 women who went missing in 1997 and 1998 will be slightly smaller to illustrate the length of time since they faded away from the public.

- The remaining 28 pictures will be smaller.

Ran with fact box "They're Not Small Paintings", which hasbeen appended to the end of the story.

© The Vancouver Sun 2006

Copyright © 2006 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved.

Friday, November 10

Hundreds prepared to serve as Pickton jurors

Globe and Mail
November 10, 2006

VANCOUVER -- Hundreds of people have notified the court they are prepared to serve on the jury in the first-degree-murder trial of Robert Pickton.

The sensational serial-slaying trial was expected to have trouble finding jurors willing to sit through a year-long court case and listen to allegations of horrific brutality.

However, the sheriff's office now anticipates that as many as 600 people may be available on Dec. 9 at the start of the process to select 12 jurors.

"They do not necessarily want to do it, but they recognize their duty as a citizen," deputy sheriff Marin Debruyn said yesterday in an interview.

Some people are concerned about the nature of the evidence, he said.

"But most people say the same thing -- it's a nice thing to hear. 'It's my duty to do it and I will do it.' It is good for them to step up like that," Mr. Debruyn said.
Anticipating difficulties in finding jurors, the sheriff's office sent out 3,500 summonses in the last week of October. The names were chosen at random from the B.C. voters list for constituencies close to the courthouse.

As expected, many who received a summons did not qualify to serve or applied for an exemption. Jurors must be at least 19 years old, a Canadian citizen and a resident of British Columbia. Lawyers, police officers and certain other occupations are disqualified. Seniors, students, individuals with health problems and those with firm travel plans are among the long list of those who qualify for an exemption.

The sheriff's office has already exempted many people who said they would suffer personal or financial hardship if they had to serve on the Pickton jury, Mr. Debruyn said.

One of the most frequent grounds for an exemption is that the pay to serve on a jury is inadequate.

Jurors receive $20 a day for the first 10 days of a trial, $60 a day for the following 39 days and $100 a day for each day afterward. A juror would receive about $16,500 for a trial that sits four days a week for one year.

Many companies continue to pay employees' salaries while they serve on a jury. "But if they are not paid by their employers, the money the government pays is not enough to support themselves," Mr. Debruyn said.

Those who received a summons cannot exempt themselves, he added. They have to write a letter explaining their circumstances and then the sheriff's office reviews their situation. "We make sure it is a valid application. If it is, we excuse them," he said.

In the normal course of events, the sheriff's office at the New Westminster courthouse would send out 500 summonses every month to bring together enough people for jury trials over a one-month period. Normally, about 20 per cent -- 100 people -- are available for the jury-selection process. The jury pool provides jurors for each scheduled trial during that month. Some months the court may have as many as five jury trials; in other months, only one may be held, Mr. Debruyn said.

The sheriff's office sent out seven times as many summonses for the Pickton trial, anticipating widespread resistance to sitting on the jury. But officials misjudged the response.

"They are still coming in, but we already got plenty of them. We got more than we need. It's not going to be a problem," Mr. Debruyn said.

The court will really not know how many members of the public are in the potential jury pool until the process begins Dec. 9.

"But basically it seems like this is a regular trial. So far, there is nothing really that is unusual about it," Mr. Debruyn said.

Mr. Pickton is on trial for murder in the deaths of 26 women in Vancouver's notorious missing-women case. A trial on six first-degree charges is slated to begin Jan. 8.

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

Thursday, November 9

Jurors may run for the hills if Pickton trial comes calling

Globe and Mail

November 9, 2006

VANCOUVER -- Garry Gaudet knows what he'd do if he was called for jury duty in the Robert Pickton murder trial: Run for the hills.

Mr. Gaudet has already served on three juries, the last one being a murder trial involving an elderly woman who was stomped to death in Nanaimo. The trial lasted a month.

"The crime scene pictures were horrendous. Honestly, I'm still haunted by them," recalls Mr. Gaudet, who lives in Lantzville on Vancouver Island.

"Being on a trial like that can take a real emotional toll on you. I can't even begin to imagine what the jurors in the Pickton trial are in for. And that's just one reason, I think, that a case like that should be heard by judge alone."

Mr. Gaudet is right. It's time the courts and law makers in this country took a look at what's fair when it comes to asking citizens to give up their day-to-day lives to serve on a jury.

The Pickton trial could last a year or longer. Jurors will be picked next month. The lucky 12 will each be paid $20 a day for the first 10 days, $60 for days 11 to 49 and then $100 a day for each day after. If the Pickton trial averaged three days a week for a year, a juror would be paid just over $13,000. And they're on the hook for supplying their own lunch each day, too. Yes, judges will often take a person's financial situation into account during jury selection and yes, some companies will continue to pay an employee's salary while serving on a jury. But many, many won't. Especially for a trial that lasts months and months.

I know the right to a trial by jury is one of the fundamental cornerstones of our judicial system, one dating back to the beginning of the Commonwealth trial system. So what? Times change. The law has been reformed in other areas since that time. Why not look at the role of juries?

How many people can afford to ditch their jobs for a year? Even six months. Is it fair to ask a juror to take out a loan so he can make his mortgage payments while serving on a trial of exceptional length? Most lawyers you talk to are in favour of keeping juries, regardless of the length of the trial. Gee, I wonder why? They're one of the groups that are exempt from jury duty in Canada.

So are police officers and members of certain government agencies. Those who are wealthy, savvy and well connected can often talk their way out of jury duty as well -- leaving those who can least afford to take time off work to do the job.

Mr. Gaudet asks: "Is it reasonable that the law can, in effect, put blameless people under a form of house arrest for periods of several months to more than a year? Jurors are quite abused by the system. There are awful emotional, intellectual and financial costs to serving on a jury for a trial of a serious offence.

"Jurors' lives are absolutely disrupted and they are paid a pittance for their trouble. What's worse, vastly increased demands have been placed on them since the adoption of the Charter and a Supreme Court decision requiring full disclosure of every scrap of police investigation material instead of a summary of evidence as in the past."

It should come as no surprise that more people than ever are avoiding jury duty in North America. Jury duty evasion is as high as 60 to 80 per cent in some U.S. states. In some districts, jury evasion has been so profound that judges have ordered deputies to round up people off the streets to do the job.

Many states are now trying to sweeten the pot to make jury duty more attractive. Arizona has now established a "lengthy trial fund," which helps address the discrepancy between a juror's court salary and his or her real job.

Even B.C. Attorney-General Wally Oppal agrees that asking people to take a year out of their lives to sit on a jury is unrealistic. He says criminal trials generally take far too long, much longer than they once did, and something needs to be done to shorten them.

Mr. Oppal believes that trials of exceptional length should probably be heard by judge alone.

"I think it's preferable from a convenience perspective and a time perspective," he says, "but right now the Constitution gives the accused the right to have a jury of his peers."

Then the Constitution, as it pertains to the Criminal Code, needs to be amended. Or, as occurred in the lengthy Air-India trial, the Crown and the defence need to agree up front to have the case heard by judge alone.

Right now, a potential juror's only option is to run for the hills.


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

Pickton judge lays out rules for spectators
Leave the children at home, court advises

Globe and Mail

November 9, 2006

VANCOUVER -- The sensational trial of Robert Pickton on charges of murdering drug-dependent women who worked in the sex trade will come with advice for parents: Don't bring your kids.

Deputy sheriffs at the security gate to the courtroom have been instructed to tell adults accompanying children that the trial may be inappropriate for their youngsters.

However, a former co-ordinator at a women's drop-in centre in Vancouver's skid row says the warning may be misplaced. Everyone in Vancouver -- including children -- should spend some time in court during the Pickton trial, Elaine Allan said in an interview yesterday.

"Nothing would make me happier than to have the population of Vancouver go into the courtroom for half an hour or for one day, just to observe the trial and be knowledgeable about it, and to understand this great tragedy happened in our city," Ms. Allan said.

Obviously, very young children probably would not understand what was going on. But if somebody is young, it would be fabulous if they had a mentor or parent or someone who could go with them and be with them while they were there, and debrief with them later, maybe talk about the larger issues that face young people in our world today."

The courtroom may not be appropriate for every child, she also said. "But I think the family should be able to make that determination. Some children are very mature for their age," she said.

Ms. Allan said she still remembers when her mother several years ago took her and her sister to a rape trial at the New Westminster courthouse, the same building in which Mr. Pickton is on trial.

She was in Grade 9.

"I cannot remember the particulars of the rape case, because I was so young," Ms. Allan said. "But there was something about these girls who got inside this guy's vehicle, and then things had gone wrong."

Ms. Allan was in court for only one afternoon. Afterward, her mother told her to remember the rape case if she was ever offered a ride in a stranger's car. "I want you to think about being here today," Ms. Allan said her mother told her.

"I don't know how it played out during my adolescence. But those were her thoughts," Ms. Allan said.

Mr. Pickton has been charged with the murder of 26 women. The murder charges against Mr. Pickton and Vancouver's missing-women's case have attracted international attention. Books and movies based on accounts of events are currently in progress.

A jury is slated to begin hearing evidence on six of the charges on Jan. 8, almost five years after Mr. Pickton was arrested. If convicted on all charges against him, he will be the deadliest serial killer in Canadian history.

Mr. Justice James Williams, of the B.C. Supreme Court, issued instructions that touched on several aspects of courtroom decorum, including standing, sleeping, reading material and gum-chewing.

Mark Jan Vrem, a consultant hired by the court to co-ordinate media coverage of the trial, said the instructions were mostly common sense and applicable to all courtrooms. "But if it is not written down, it cannot be enforced," he said.

Ms. Allan knew several women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside neighbourhood who have gone missing in recent years. She has often come to court during the pretrial proceedings to hear evidence.

She speculated that the judge may have issued the instructions in an effort to do a bit of damage control before the evidence goes before the jury. The judge may be trying to ensure that people coming in are not unnecessarily aggravated at a time when the trial might already be really stressful, she said. Ms. Allan also recalled tense times while she was in the public gallery during the pretrial proceedings.

Rumours circulate about what has and has not been said, Ms. Allan said. "I think that plays on the psyche of anyone who goes into that courtroom."

Sitting in the same facility as Mr. Pickton is "a big deal" for most people, she also said. "It is very stressful for most people who have any ties whatsoever. It is just dreadful. It's my sense the judge is trying to take that into consideration."


THE B.C. Supreme Court has issued instructions that touch several aspects of court room decorum for the Robert Pickton tria. They include



Allowed in Victim Family Room/Media Room only

Gum chewing

Allowed in Victim Family Room/Media Room only.


Allowed in Victim Family Room/Media Room only.



Loud talking

Deputies will initially warn parties that their talking is excessive or too loud.


Allowed in Victim Family Room/Media Room only.


Deputies will initially warn parties that there will be no sleeping in court.

Child disturbances

Deputies will warn caregiver that this trial may be inappropriate for children at search gate.


Not allowed in Courtroom or Victim/Family Room.

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

Wednesday, November 8

RCMP to use new database on Highway of Tears

Prince George Citizen
Wednesday, November 08, 2006

PRINCE GEORGE - RCMP have a new computer database that will allow them to scan unsolved cases such as the Highway of Tears deaths and disappearances for possible connections.

Police say the database will allow them to look for clues beyond the nine specific cases along a stretch Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert, B.C.
RCMP spokesman Sgt. John Ward said police have looked at incorporating all other outstanding homicides from Kamloops northward.

Ward did not know how many homicides that would be.

RCMP Supt. Leon Van De Walle said the first step is to collect all the information in the files and put it into a computer database.

The database will make comparisons from file to file, as well as cases in other jurisdictions.

Since 1974, there have been nine unsolved deaths or disappearances of young women along the stretch of road that has become known as the Highway of Tears.

The victims include: Ramona Wilson, 15, Lana Derrick, 19, Roxanne Thiara, 15, Alishia Germaine, 15, Alberta Williams, 27, Delphine Nikal, 16, Nicole Hoar, 25, Tamara Chipman, 22 and Monica Ignas, who was last seen Dec. 13, 1974 near Terrace.

"We are recruiting specialists in each phase of this (new approach)," said Van De Walle. "And we will have eight skilled investigators dedicated to the Highway of Tears cases. This is all they will do."

Last month, the government hired a co-ordinator to implement recommendations in last June's Highway of Tears Report to improve the safety of women who travel the highway.
Many are aboriginal women hitch-hiking between communities.

Among the 33 recommendations were to set up a shuttle bus service between the Highway 16 communities while another suggested expanding Greyhound's free ride program for those in financial need.
© The Vancouver Sun 2006

Tuesday, November 7

Authorities issue guide to dos and don't when Pickton murder trial begins

Greg Joyce
Canadian Press
Tuesday, November 07, 2006

VANCOUVER (CP) - Drinking a beverage, chewing gum and reading will be allowed in certain court locations during the megatrial that begins next month for accused serial killer Robert Pickton, but sleeping, standing, talking, and bringing a noisy child to the proceedings will get you in trouble with the authorities.

Those are some of the dos and don'ts outlined in a guide sent to reporters recently and available for spectators intending to watch the Pickton trial scheduled to begin Jan. 8 in New Westminster.

With the trial only three months away, the authorities in charge of making sure it is organized properly have been busy with a myriad of details.

Hundreds of spectators and reporters are expected to attend the trial in B.C. Supreme Court, where a main courtroom and an overflow courtroom have been set up.
Already about 250 media have been accredited to cover the trial, including some foreign media outlets such as the New York Times.

To ensure the crowds attending the trial are accommodated as much as possible and the proceedings are conducted properly, the Attorney General's Ministry has issued a media information guide.

The guide provides the reader with an extensive table of contents and is available on the ministry's website, www.ag.gov.bc.ca/courts/pickton/index.htm
The guide includes a comprehensive page on "courtroom decorum," including Justice James Williams's pronouncements on various behaviours.

Under no circumstances is food allowed in either the main courtroom or the overflow courtroom.

A separate room for members of the victims' families has been established, as well as a separate room for the media who are not in the courtrooms.

Beverages, gum chewing and reading will be allowed in the family and media rooms. But like food, those three activities are prohibited in the courtrooms.

Any reporter who regularly covers court can attest it bears little resemblance to the court proceedings on TV and spectators occasionally fall asleep.

"Deputies will initially warn parties that there will be no sleeping in court," the guide states.

Talking and standing are also banned in court, although standing is allowed in the family and media workroom.

The sheriffs in charge of security and of maintaining decorum are also discouraging anyone from taking children to the trial.

"Deputies will warn adult/caregiver that this trial may be inappropriate for children at search gate," says the guide.

There will be two searches conducted every day: the first one when a person enters the building, the second at the entrance to the courtrooms.

In September, the Crown formally split the charges against accused serial killer Pickton into two cases, committing him to one trial on six murder charges and a second trial on the remaining 20.

Originally, Pickton had been charged on one indictment with murdering 26 women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside over several years.

Pickton's trial began last January and has been hearing arguments by the Crown and defence about what evidence can be put before the jury when it begins listening to witnesses' testimony next January.

© The Canadian Press 2006

Sunday, November 5

Judge in Pickton murder case urges Crown to provide detailed trial plan

Greg Joyce
Canadian Press
Thursday, November 02, 2006

VANCOUVER - The trial of accused serial killer Robert Pickton before a jury is only three months away - an urgency that has prompted the court to require the Crown to produce a trial plan.

"The Crown and defence have been trying to lay out a format for a trial plan and the judge had to get involved because they reached an impasse," Crown spokesman Stan Lowe said Wednesday. "The judge only gave directions. It wasn't an order."

The issue of a trial plan, in which the Crown lays out in fairly detailed form what witnesses it intends to call and what generally they will say, has been an issue for at least a few months.

The defence asked the Crown in court again earlier this week for the plan, prompting the judge to urge the Crown to comply soon.

"The judge gave some guidance as to what he'd expect in a trial plan but left it entirely up to the Crown," said Lowe.

Pickton is charged with 26 counts of first-degree murder of mostly drug-addicted sex-trade workers who lived or worked on the city's Downtown Eastside.

In an earlier ruling this year, Justice James Williams ruled that the first trial would begin in January with six counts; a second trial with the remaining 20 counts would follow.

Lead defence lawyer Peter Ritchie welcomed the judge's comments on a speedy trial plan.

"The defence is trying to do everything we can to get this case sufficiently moving along," said Ritchie. "We're very optimistic that the (trial plan) will assist in getting this case moving along smoothly for everybody."

Although the judge didn't set a trial plan deadline, Ritchie said the two sides are scheduled to be back in court Monday "and I expect he will want to see how we're doing."

Pickton's trial began last January under a publication ban and has been hearing arguments by the Crown and defence about what evidence can be put before the jury when it begins listening to witnesses' testimony early next year.

The six-count indictment to be tried in January charges Pickton, 57, with the deaths of Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Wolfe, Georgina Papin and Marnie Frey.

The jury is to be selected next month.

© The Canadian Press 2006


The National Film Board of Canada presents the Vancouver Premiere of FINDING DAWN 7pm on Thursday, November 2, 2006
Pacific Cinematheque
1131 Howe St, Vancouver BC

From Hanuse Banchi, The NFB (National Film Board)

Media alert November 1, 2006

Opening film sells out before the doors open, second screening added

For the first time in the history of the Amnesty International Film Festival, a screening has sold out in advance of the doors opening. Advance ticket demand for the Vancouver premiere of "Finding Dawn" has prompted the festival to schedule a second screening, on Sunday, November 5, at 11:30 am. Tickets for this screening will be available at the door only, and all seats will be $5 for this Sunday morning screening.
Film description:

Finding Dawn
Dawn Crey, Ramona Wilson, Daleen Kay Bosse – three of an estimated 500 Aboriginal women who have gone missing or been murdered in Canada over the past thirty years. This epic journey into the dark heart of Native women's experience takes us from Vancouver's skid row to the "Highway of Tears" in northern British Columbia, and on to Saskatoon, where murders of Native women remain unresolved. Along the road to honour the dead, acclaimed Métis filmmaker Christine Welsh uncovers inspiring stories of strength, courage and resilience, as communities come together to stem the tide of violence.

Film website: www.nfb.ca/findingdawn

Festival background:

The Amnesty International Film Festival is proud to present its eleventh annual program in Vancouver, November 2-5 at Pacific Cinematheque, 1131 Howe Street. This year's festival features 22 films on important issues facing the global community, including several Canadian and Vancouver premieres and award-winning work by Canadian and foreign filmmakers. This is cinema with a social conscience.

Titles include Finding Dawn, 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama. Raised to be Heroes, Breaking Ranks, Missing: Sri Lanka's Silent Tsunami, Visioning Tibet, Uganda Rising, Rwanda: The Hills Speak Out, Total Denial, Sex Slaves, Martyr Street, Blind Man, Hate Machine, Independent Intervention, Fields of Mudan, The Shape of Water, The Mushuau Innu: Surviving Canada, Sipakapa is Not For Sale, Borderless, Maquilapolis, Shadow Company, and The Tank Man.

General admission is $8, Matinees, students, seniors, underemployed $6. For film descriptions, showtimes, and advance online ticket sales, please go to www.ticketstonight.ca
Missing Vancouver Women
Vanished Voices-Angela Jardine
Seen Me Lately
Vancouver's missing women group
Holly's Fight for Justice

"Justice Delayed Is Still Justice"

Highway of Tears
Please help find our daughter
Sex Trade Workers of Canada
Missing & unidentified Victim's organization
Outpost for Hope
Missing/Murdered Native Women

Saturday, November 4

Scope is expanded on Highway of Tears

Nov 03, 2006

The RCMP is adding every unsolved murder, suspicious death and suspicious disappearance north of Kamloops to a computer database containing information on murdered and missing women along Highway 16.

The goal is to find out if there is anything in common between any or all of the cases that could eventually lead to an arrest, says RCMP media relations officer Staff Sgt. John Ward.

He did not know how many new cases were being added or over what period of time but said the new computer program being used will enable officers to sift through more information than ever before.

“The decision was that now we have people entering information into the database, we should see what else is out there and group them together,” Ward said.

“You could characterize it as an expanded investigation but it is more of a review of files using new technology to see if there is a commonality,” he said.

“It certainly will be comprehensive,” Ward added of the new effort.

Ward said the new files being added to the Highway16 database come in many forms, some of which are already in an existing sophisticated database called the Violent Crime Linkage Analysis System (ViCLAS).

It contains information on nation-wide solved or unsolved homicides, attempted homicides, sexual assaults, suspicious missing persons cases, still unidentified bodies where homicide is either known or suspected and non-parental abductions or attempted abductions.

Information is entered into ViCLAS using a standardized questionnaire, which then allows investigators to search for links using key words or a combination of key words.

Ward cautioned that people should not assume RCMP have never before looked for connections into missing persons cases or unsolved murders.

In and by itself, the RCMP’s Highway 16 list of missing and murdered women contains nine names, beginning with Monica Ignas, who disappeared outside of Terrace in 1974 to Tamara Chipman, a Terrace resident who was last seen hitchhiking outside of Prince Rupert in September 2005.

The nine cases reach from Prince Rupert to Prince George and that stretch has now been dubbed the Highway of Tears by relatives and others who fear there is a serial killer or killers at work preying on young women.

RCMP first announced a major review of the cases this spring at a Prince George symposium held to discuss what needs to be done to prevent more women from going missing and being murdered. It’s the third such review over the years.

This time RCMP said they were assigning eight investigators to the review under the overall command of Superintendent Leon van de Walle, an experienced homicide investigator who has spent time in the northwest.

Ward said RCMP investigators have never confined themselves to the nine women on the Tears list.

-- Black Press

© Copyright 2006 Prince George Free Press


Friday, November 3

Kate Quinn works tirelessly to end street prostitution in Edmonton

Nick Lees, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Friday, November 03, 2006

Kate Quinn heads the Prostitution Awareness and Action Foundation of Edmonton. Nick Lees, The Journal.

Edmonton has become "the Wal-Mart" of the drug trade and that's one reason why prostitution is on the increase, says Kate Quinn, executive director of the Prostitution Awareness and Action Foundation of Edmonton.

"In 2001, we had figures on the decline and we estimated there were some 250 prostitutes on our streets," she says.

"But then crystal meth began to creep in and it cheapened other drugs. We became the Wal-Mart of the drug trade.

"Drugs and life became cheap. At the same time, fewer police resources meant there were fewer officers on the street dealing with vice. The number of poor and homeless also increased.

"Today, we estimate the number of prostitutes has doubled to 500."
Before the recent resource boom, which has increased figures, Quinn and vice-squad detectives estimated some 10,000 men were cruising city streets looking for sex.

"We must educate them," says Quinn. "We must get the message to them that their behaviour is not acceptable.

"That's why on the main roads between 33rd Street in Beverly and 156th Street on Stony Plain Road, we have signs saying, 'This community does not tolerate prostitution.' "

In between telephone calls to make sure a woman had a safe place to stay, away from the death threats of a "boyfriend" who wanted her to have sex to make him money, Quinn took me back to the place of her formative years.

She was born the eldest of 12 children in Rolla, Mo., to a Catholic family of Irish descent. She moved to Calgary with her geologist father at the age of 12 and later studied linguistics at the University of Calgary.

"I was an idealistic young person in 1976," says Quinn. "At a workshop, I met a priest seeking a couple of women to live in a household on 95th Street. They were to strengthen the McCauley neighborhood by working in it.

"My father wasn't happy dropping me off in McCauley. But I found confronting challenges there was exhilarating work. It gave me energy and set the background for the rest of my life."

She initially lived with a Catholic sister and at night they would light candles.
"A man knocked on our door once, came in and made small talk," says Quinn. "He really liked the sister and eventually said, 'When are we going to get to it?' We wondered what on earth he was talking about until he mentioned the red candle in the window. He thought we were ladies of the night."

In 1981, Quinn married and went to live near Commonwealth Stadium.

Prostitution was on the increase and a sexually assaulted woman fleeing two men even knocked on their door once. The couple later worked with police on a car count by McCauley elementary school.

"There should have been about 600 to 700 cars a day passing," she says. "But our count showed there were 3,700.

"Men were circling the block. Young girls couldn't get to school safely and women felt they couldn't walk through the neighbourhood without being hit on by these men."
The couple also regularly found condoms on the street outside their home and thought of moving for the well-being of their two children.

But they stayed in a neighbourhood they loved and worked towards improving it by fighting the root causes that created prostitution, poverty, crime and inadequate housing.

They took part in meetings attended by beat officers, parents whose daughters worked the streets and charities that worked with the socially exploited.

A group called Communities for Changing Prostitution was formed and members decided men cruising the streets were their biggest concern.

"We recognized these men had their own issues," says Quinn. "They were lonely, had personal or work problems or were struggling with addictions."

This led to the prostitution offender program and the adoption of the "john school," a San Francisco initiative where women who survived prostitution helped others leave.
In 1996, the city asked Quinn to facilitate the john school. But it wasn't until this October that a law passed three years ago came into effect that allows for johns cruising for prostitutes to have their vehicles seized by police.

"Men charged can get their cars back if they go to school, a one-day session where they hear from prostitutes and learn how prostitution tears families and neighbourhoods apart," says Quinn.

The non-profit foundation was formed along the way to be accountable for the $400 that johns pay for the seminar.

"The money goes straight into helping get women off the street," says Quinn.
"A little cash can make a huge difference in someone's life. It can help with bus tickets, food, clothes for children and other basic needs."

She adds: "The average age of someone pulled into prostitution is about 14. We can help them get out.

"Everyone has the right to food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services."

To mark the 10th anniversary of the john's school this year, the foundation launched a men of honour awards program and tied it to a fundraising breakfast.

"We seek to recognize unsung male leaders who are role models our younger men can look up to," says Quinn.

"Respect yourself, women and children, is the message. Put your energies into helping build our city."

She adds: "There are many men of honour. But it's the men who hurt women who make the headlines.

"Exploited women are being murdered on our streets and this is helping make Edmonton the murder capital of Canada. I believe we can bring change and eventually stop prostitution."

© The Edmonton Journal 2006

Thursday, November 2


The National Film Board of Canada presents the Vancouver Premiere of FINDING DAWN 7pm on Thursday, November 2, 2006

Pacific Cinematheque
1131 Howe St, Vancouver BC

Dawn Crey. Ramona Wilson. Daleen Kay Bosse. These are just three of the estimated 500 Aboriginal women who have gone missing or been murdered in Canada over the past thirty years. In Finding Dawn, acclaimed Métis filmmaker Christine Welsh takes us on an epic journey into the dark heart of Native women’s experience in this country from Vancouver’s skid row to the “Highway of Tears” in northern British Columbia, and onward to Saskatoon, where the murders of Native women remain unresolved. Along the road to honour those who have passed, she uncovers inspiring stories of strength, courage and resilience, as communities come together to stem the tide of violence.

For tickets: www.ticketstonight.ca phone 604.684.2787
Filmmaker will be in attendance

Official Selection of the San Francisco Annual American Indian Film Festival and the ImagineNative Film + Media Arts Festival.


Film goes beyond missing woman's case

Debuting at the 11th annual Amnesty International film festival, NFB documentary examines violence against native women

Kevin Griffin Vancouver Sun

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Of the 60 missing women from the Downtown Eastside, almost half were native. Number 23 was Dawn Crey, one of the People of the River, the Sto:lo from the upper Fraser Valley around Chilliwack. Her remains were found on Robert Pickton's farm but there wasn't enough DNA to include Crey as one of 26 women he's charged with killing.

In the National Film Board documentary Finding Dawn, Crey becomes much more than a number. She becomes a daughter and a sister who was on methadone and trying to turn her life around when she disappeared.

But as her brother, Ernie, says, Dawn didn't live in a tony west-side neighbourhood with political connections. Because she lived in one of the country's poorest urban areas, he says, Dawn's disappearance along with the other missing women wasn't given the attention by police that they deserved.

"These are not powerful people in this society," said Ernie Crey, a policy adviser for the Sto:lo Tribal Council.

"We cannot pretend that police are equally responsive to different parts of society."

Finding Dawn receives its local premiere this evening at 7 p.m. when it opens the 11th annual Amnesty International Film Festival at Pacific Cinematheque. Due to demand, the festival has added a second screening of Finding Dawn on Sunday at 11:30 a.m.

Metis filmmaker Christine Welsh takes Dawn's story as a starting point for a journey into the native women who have gone missing or been murdered in Western Canada in communities such as Saskatoon or along Highway 16, the Yellowhead in northern B.C. Welsh, who narrates the film, never uses the "r" word as the cause, although she easily could have to describe what's happened to native women. Instead, Welsh interviews the relatives and friends who not only talk about never forgetting those who have been murdered, but of changing attitudes that treat native women as marginalized and disposable.

One of the many powerful native women interviewed in Welsh's documentary is Mattie Wilson, mother of Daleen, who was murdered on Highway 16. She's part of a group that holds a three-km walk every year from where Daleen was last seen to where her body was found.

"I will let people know we will never forget the loved ones killed along Highway 16, the Highway of Tears," Wilson says.

When Wilson speaks, her voice sounds soft and small. But when you listen, you hear the power of her love for her daughter in every word.

Finding Dawn is more about the living than the dead and how native women are organizing to combat violence against native women. Going way beyond media stereotypes of native women as victims, it presents the real stories of native women who are actively engaged in making changes on and off reserve.

The AI Film Festival is showing 21 films about human rights during the next four days. Other films being screened include:

Visioning Tibet: Ophthalmologist Marc Lieberman, founder of Tibet Vision Project, hopes to end preventable blindness in Tibet, which has the highest rate of cataract blindness in the world. Isaac Solotaroff's documentary follows Karma and Lhasang who travel to a remote clinic where they hope doctors can restore their sight using equipment and training provided by Lieberman. Visioning Tibet is on Friday at 9:30 p.m. following Missing: Sri Lanka's Silent Tsunami.

Total Denial: Five years in the making, Total Denial is about Ka Hsaw Wa's battle on behalf of the Karen people of Burma to gather information on human rights abuses and environmental damage that resulted in a lawsuit against two multinational law companies: Total of France and Unocal of the U.S.

It screens Saturday at 3:25 p.m.

The Tank Man: In June 1988, the world watched a lone man staring down a procession of tanks in Tiananmen Square. In the process of trying to find the story of the courageous man, the producers of this Frontline documentary discover a continuing fight between the communist government and those who want a more open society.

The last film in the festival, it will be shown on Sunday at 9:35 p.m. There's no charge for admission to this special presentation.

A full list of the films is available at www.amnesty.ca/filmfest . Tickets are available through ticketstonight.ca


© The Vancouver Sun 2006

More on this:

Wednesday, November 1

Ex-prostitute shares story


Wednesday, November 01, 2006 - 09:00

Local News - In a few years, Travis Barton hopes to be sitting in the driver's seat of an RCMP cruiser and he's well aware he could have a prostitute in the back seat.

After what he heard yesterday at Fleming College from a woman who spent a third of her life in the sex trade, he said he's much better equipped to handle the situation.

"I'll look at it hugely different than I would have otherwise," said the 22-year-old second-year police foundations student after yesterday's lecture.

"I couldn't stop listening to her."

He was one of about 200 students who heard the story of Natasha Falle, now a court diversion counsellor with the Toronto outreach program StreetLight.

There was no sugar-coating.

Falle told students she turned her first "trick" when she was 14 on a musty mattress in a little room above a restaurant in Calgary's Chinatown.

Then she went home and washed in Dettol, an industrial antiseptic similar to Lysol. That's what she washed with every night after work for the next 12 years, she said.

The $100 she made that night was empowering, she said.

Falle had many of the risk factors for prostitution that she now lists for clients: physical abuse, emotional unavailability of parents, a witness to abuse of her mother and divorced parents.

The world she entered that night, intrigued by a collection of promises, swallowed her up, Falle said.

Later, she would sometimes make as much as $1,000 in a night, she told students, bluntly reciting her rate card as if she'd used it as recently as yesterday.

The average age for a child to start prostituting in Canada is between 13 and 16, and prostitution is on the rise in this country, Falle said - city police Deputy Chief Ken Jackman said that is also the case in Peterborough .

In August, he told The Examiner city police were aware of a rise in reports of women offering to perform sex acts.

"That's absolutely related to crack cocaine," Jackman said at the time.

Yet Falle said prostitution most often comes first - the drugs come later.

She spent 10 years in the sex trade before touching drugs and when she did, she said it was to escape pain of physical and emotional abuse she was receiving almost every other day at the hand of her pimp, whom she had eventually married.

Finally, she made a break from that life.

It was one of those she'd feared most who stuck his foot in the door to a new world and kept it propped open, Falle said.

A police officer who had been particularly harsh with her on legal matters was one of the first to believe in her, even when she was turned away from a treatment centre.

Her talked convinced the college students. Jocelyn Armstrong said she has a whole new perspective after yesterday's talk.

Dustin Jackson agreed.

"I just sat through it all and just stared. I can't believe she went through it," said Ryan Unsworth, 19. "I have a sense how I can relate to prostitutes now," he said. "I have a new take on things. You can hear it from teachers, but firsthand is real. They've been there - they've lived it."
2006 , Osprey Media.

Missing Vancouver Women
Vanished Voices-Angela Jardine
Seen Me Lately
Vancouver's missing women group
Holly's Fight for Justice

"Justice Delayed Is Still Justice"

Highway of Tears
Please help find our daughter
Sex Trade Workers of Canada
Missing & unidentified Victim's organization
Outpost for Hope
Missing/Murdered Native Women

'What happened to her?' Gina Smith, a troubled mother and prostitute

'What happened to her?'

Gina Smith, a troubled mother and prostitute, has been missing for almost two years. With the recent discovery of bones in the Rideau Canal, her loved ones fear the worst

Andrew Seymour The Ottawa Citizen

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Three months before Gina Smith was to testify against a former boss and lover accused of threatening to bash her head in with a hammer, she disappeared.

A crack addict and prostitute, Gina had been investigated countless times for everything from theft to fraud to public mischief.

So it was easy to chalk up her missed court date to intransigence: she wasn't the kind to do the courts any favours.

It has been nearly 20 months since the 41-year-old mother of two vanished without a trace on Feb. 22, 2005. And those closest to her now have a growing fear that the woman who once hung out with outlaw bikers, starred in porno movies and sold her body to feed her cocaine addiction met a violent end -- but no one knows why or by whom.

Their anxiety has been heightened by the discovery last week of the remains of a middle-aged woman. The woman's bones had been stuffed into a bag in the Rideau Canal near Bronson Avenue and Dow's Lake.

There is no evidence yet to say the bones are Gina's, but the find has sent a chill through those who love her and always worried about her high-risk lifestyle.

"I don't have much hope," says her mother, Herma Hughes, who adopted Gina at eight months old and last spoke to her two years ago on Christmas Day. "She said, 'tell the children I love them.' And then the next news was that she was a missing person," says the 79-year-old from her home in Victoria, B.C.

Mrs. Hughes doesn't know her daughter as Gina, but rather as Deborah Johanne, the name she was given when she was adopted.

"Over the years, I was always there to help her. The only thing I wish now to know is what happened to her," says Mrs. Hughes.

Gina's case has caused barely a ripple in a city that has lived through the trauma of Jennifer Teague and Ardeth Wood, two vibrant young women who disappeared after conducting the most normal of activities: walking home from work; cycling on a hot summer's day. Two men now face first-degree murder charges in their slayings.

Sandwiched between those two homicides, Gina's disappearance occurred without so much as a press release to signify that she was gone.

This is the story of a woman who lived on the margins of society, a woman many people considered disposable. It's the story of a woman who desperately sought normalcy -- a family, a place to belong -- but ultimately fell victim to drugs and to the life of the street.

She was, in many ways, lost before she disappeared.

Lost before she disappeared: See story on Pages E7-10

© The Ottawa Citizen 2006

Missing Vancouver Women
Vanished Voices-Angela Jardine
Seen Me Lately
Vancouver's missing women group
Holly's Fight for Justice

"Justice Delayed Is Still Justice"

Highway of Tears
Please help find our daughter
Sex Trade Workers of Canada
Missing & unidentified Victim's organization
Outpost for Hope
Missing/Murdered Native Women

Marcella Chester, Advocate Against Sexual Violence

Check out the Carnival Against Sexual Violence in respect to Missing and Murdered Women!
Marcella included one of the posts in the Carnival,
Thank you Marcella for understanding and bringing awareness to violence against women.

abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open: Carnival Against Sexual Violence 10

Local flavour to disturbing new book on serial killings

By Janis Warren
The Tri-City News
Nov 01, 2006

Clifford Olson and Robert Pickton figure in non-fiction book by an Alberta writer

A new book recounting the stories of Canada's worst serial killers highlights two cases involving Tri-City residents.

The book, called Canadian Crime Investigations: Hunting Down Serial Killers (Folklore Publishing), was penned by Peter Boer, an assistant editor of the St. Albert Gazette, near Edmonton.

Boer, who has a degree in psychology, starts his book with Burquitlam resident Clifford Olson, who admitted to killing 11 Lower Mainland children in the 1980s, and ends with Robert Pickton of Port Coquitlam, accused of 26 counts of first-degree murder. (Pickton stands trial in January on six of the charges.)

In both of the cases, like the other six in his book, murder is not the only link - sex is also a driving force to the killings, Boer suggests.

"There is a sexual element to each murder that is difficult, if impossible, to comprehend," he told The Tri-City News. "In all of these cases, the victims were essentially helpless."

For Olson, Boer points out, no attempt was ever made to rehabilitate him, though he spent years in jail before his crime spree.

Boer also comments on the way police handled the missing persons' files. Olson's young victims had a history of running away from home while Pickton's alleged victims were sex-trade workers. As a result, the cases were often neglected until it was clear a serial murderer may be at work.

Boer suggests the police tell the public - sooner rather than later -when they have a possible mass murderer on the loose.

"Obviously," he said, "there are limits to put on that but in cases such as Olson's... and Pickton's, the biggest breaks came after the police acknowledged they were likely looking for a serial killer.

"The public is better served by being informed and prepared than by being kept in the dark of a misplaced fear of a public panic," Boer said.

The subject of Canada's serial killers and the Pickton case piqued Boer's interest while he covered Project KARE, a police operation in Edmonton investigating the murders of 21 women, most of them sex-trade workers.

"As each body was uncovered," Boer said, "a story about the victim would always follow in the local press. Each one was heartbreaking because of the incredible toll violent crime takes on the community. The cliché that every victim is someone's son/daughter/mother/friend, etc. just seemed to hold so true."

But in his research and writing, Boer said he "didn't want to re-victimize anyone. I didn't want to open any old wounds and I didn't want to provide any forum to justify any of the actions of the people I wrote about."

As a result, his book is a quick read of the criminal investigations themselves. "This meant glossing over some of the more human and personal qualities of the victims but that was never the point of the book to begin with. The idea was simply to tell the story of what had happened," he said.