Saturday, March 31

26 missing lives

In The Arms Of An Angel
By: Sarah McLachlan

Spend all your time waiting for that second chance
For the break that will make it ok
There's always some reason to feel not good enough
And it's hard at the end of the day
I need some distraction oh beautiful release
Memories seep from my veins
They may be empty and weightless and maybe
I'll find some peace tonight

In the arms of an Angel fly away from here
From this dark, cold hotel room, and the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie
You're in the arms of an Angel; may you find some comfort here

So tired of the straight line, and everywhere you turn
There's vultures and thieves at your back
The storm keeps on twisting, you keep on building the lies
That you make up for all that you lack
It don't make no difference, escaping one last time
It's easier to believe
In this sweet madness, oh this glorious sadness
That brings me to my knees

In the arms of an Angel far away from here
From this dark, cold hotel room, and the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie
In the arms of an Angel; may you find some comfort here

Wednesday, March 28

It's hard to realize how desensitized we are until one day something horrible happens and we notice we don't feel anything.

Children Of Men

By Orato Editor Heather Wallace


It's hard to realize how desensitized we are until one day something horrible happens and we notice we don't feel anything. I used to take the bus everyday through Vancouver's Downtown Eastside - Canada's poorest postal code. I saw many horrible things. It usually put me in a somewhat sour mood, until the bus let me out at my stop, where I could grab a coffee and head into my safe little office niche. Passing by the water cooler, I may tell a co-worker, "I saw a third trimester pregnant woman shooting heroin this morning." Or, riding the elevator with a colleague on my way out for lunch, I may tell him about the mentally handicapped person I saw sitting backwards in her wheelchair, urinating in a street corner. We would shake our heads and ask "Just what is the world coming to?" But we wouldn't cry or shake our hands in the air. Instead, we peruse the newspaper, looking for articles to do the talking for us. And then we're barely surprised when the mainstream media says virtually nothing about these monumental crises.

March has been a depressing month in my little town. Until last Sunday, Vancouver had rain every single day, and as the weeks rolled on without sunsets or chirping birds, I started to ask myself whether I may be suffering from a touch of Seasonal Affective Disorder. The SAD felt most pronounced this past Saturday, when I just couldn't seem to shake the coil of the heavy, wet winter, which persisted despite it being spring.

My boyfriend and I decided to kill the rainy day inside a movie theater. We'd both wanted to see the movie Children Of Men [1], starring Clive Owen and Julianne Moore. Given my frame of mind, I'm not sure why I wanted to see a film about the prospect of human extinction, set in end-of-the-world London in the year 2027, when not a single baby has been born in 20 years.
The plot follows the secret discovery of a miraculously pregnant woman and a frenzied journey to deliver her to safety and restore the Earth's future. As one would expect, given the circumstances, the humankind depicted in Children Of Men is despondent and suicidal.

The movie was pure edge-of-your-seat intensity and Armageddon, chaos and anxiety, violence and death, from beginning to end. There were moments I had to take a deep breath because I was so overwhelmed by what I was seeing. When the movie finally ended, my boyfriend and I walked outside, looked at each other and said, "Holy crap." I was glad to get outside and breathe in reality again, safe in my fertile little 2007 world.

But across the street, a mini-Armageddon was unfolding. We had seen the movie at a Tinseltown on the edge of Vanouver's abyss: The Downtown Eastside, Canada's poorest postal code.

Police and firetrucks were busy cordoning off a city block. An ambulance was parked in the middle of the road and a man was down. Someone passing by us told us the man had been stabbed in the stomach with a large piece of rebar. We walked closer to the scene to get a better look. (It's not everyday a car wreck unfolds before your eyes, and given that we're essentially morbid creatures, we wanted to see it.)

I could see the man, and I saw the long piece of metal beside him. I averted my eyes before I saw the point of the weapon's entry. We stood there a while, watching the reactions of other onlookers, a lone cameraman getting footage and the various emergency response and law enforcement officials milling about their business. The scene was quiet; the man was still. In the alleys behind me, men searched through dumpsters looking like wet rats. One man came around the corner, clutching a hypodermic needle.

Unlike the movie, in which everything moved me, only one thing stood out as unusual to me on the corner of Vancouver's abyss; it was not the gruesome nature of the man's injuries. But just meters from where the injured man lay, I saw two young children standing under an umbrella, which was held by an adult crouching down to talk to them. I pointed it out to my boyfriend and we both said, "Jesus, get those kids out of here." I've thought about those kids a couple times since Saturday. I wonder how this memory will impress itself upon their little psyches. I thought maybe they had witnessed the crime, otherwise someone surely would have ushered them to safety and protected them from this scene.

My boyfriend and I told all our friends about what we'd seen that day, but neither of us heard anything about it on the local news. That is, until last night. I saw the victim's mother speaking out about her son, and I learned he had succumbed to his injuries and died in hospital - from a fatal stab wound to his face. The mother admitted her son had been a drug dealer and had a bad attitude, but said this did not justify his murder.

21-year-old James Mintus had been fighting with a couple on the street, and the couple was with two young children. Mintus apparently shoved a woman after she told him to stop yelling profanities in front of her two children. The woman's boyfriend allegedly responded by stabbing Mintus in the face with an 8-foot metal bar. The suspect is 21-year-old Jairo Barrientos, a refugee from Honduras.

Just like in the movies...but isn't it strange I had a stronger reaction to cinema than to this horror in my hometown? The pictures of Mintus make me feel a bit queasy, but it won't stop me from going back to Tinseltown.
Vancouver's horror show has been going on for so long, and people are so desensitized, that it's easy to understand how more than 60 women could disappear from this neighbourhood like the bat of an eyelash. At the beginning of the Robert Pickton trial, the world stopped and stared, curious about how the car wreck would take shape as this man faced charges of murdering 26 women. A few severed heads and limbs in freezers turned a few heads. But it doesn't really make headlines anymore, nine weeks into the trial that is expected to last a year.

Yesterday, citizen correspondent Trisha Baptie, who is covering the Pickton trial for Orato, came into my office to take care of some administrative business. I asked her how trial has been going. She said last Wednesday was particularly hard. It was confirmed that a syringe was found on the Pickton farm and it contained windshield wiper fluid. When she spoke those words, she teared up and said, "Sorry, I'm going to cry again." She said it was really hard to imagine someone taking a life in such a cold, calculated way.

My initial instinct was to ask Trisha if she wants to take a break from trial. I worry about her mental well-being. But then I realized I was not having an emotional reaction to the news about the syringe, and I thought maybe I should be more worried about the rest of us.

The sun came back on Sunday, so I guess there's hope.

Sunday, March 25

The song "Missing" came out of the tragedy of Andrea Joesbury's death.

MISSING - Tribute

Andrea was 16 when she left her home - she was looking for something and had dreams of marriage and a family with a man she had met through a friend. Andrea's dreams did not come true, she ended up hooked on drugs and was forced to sell her body on the streets of East Vancouver. Andrea went missing in June 2002 and sadly her body was found in February 2003 - she was just 21 years old. This is an edited version of a long and sad story of a child who was lost to her family. While the circumstances of her death are now making the news, they are not lost to her family. While the circumstances of her death are now making the news, they are not the focus of this appeal. Jack and Laila Cummer are Andrea's grandparents and they know that Haven Society is committed to breaking the cycle of violence and abuse in families. They want Andrea's death to make a difference. Jack told us about a friend of Andrea's from the streets who phoned recently. She said 'I did not wake up one day and decide that I wanted to be a drug addict and a prostitute.' Jack and Laila know that Andrea did not decide that either.

The song "Missing" came out of the tragedy of Andrea's death. And while it is a tribute to her, Jack is adamant that it is not about her. It is about missing and abused women and children everywhere. They all have a name and they are daughters, sisters, and granddaughters. Andrea's grandparents have a simple dream, to save even one young life from the degradation of life on the streets. They hope that this will never happen to any other family. To this end they are donating any funds raised from the sale of the CD 'Missing' to Haven Society and its Willow WAI program. (this program is described above) Haven Society is seeking sustainable funding in order to continue this program....and we are grateful to Jack and Laila for their support. Missing is collaboration between Susan Musgrave, who wrote the lyrics, and Brad Prevadoros who composed the beautiful music. Singer, Amber Smith puts 'life' to their efforts in a haunting yet meaningful tribute.

"Missing's" a word that can't begin to describe
the way I miss you more each day
You left to chase the wind on high
and the rain rained down to stay

Will they remember me when I'm gone
you said, when I've kissed goodbye to pain
or will their lives just carry on
in the small hours of the rain.

You may be lost in the eyes of the world -
but how can I set you free
when there's a whole empty world in my aching heart,
You're the missing part of me.

Excerpts from 'Missing' by Susan Musgrave

To order your copy of the CD Click here CD ORDER FORM

Friday, March 23

Harper government ignores housing crisis

Published on Vancouver (

Vancouver NDP MP Libby Davies has three words to describe her reaction to the Conservative government's 2007 federal budget. Speaking to the Georgia Straight by phone from Ottawa, where she represents what is often described as Canada's poorest postal code, the NDP parliamentarian said: "I was stunned."

Davies said that while the Conservatives gave big business "$9 billion in corporate tax cuts", not a single penny was allotted to address the housing needs of the poor. "It was the most glaring omission of a very basic human right," she said. "It's not a lack of fiscal capacity. It's the lack of political commitment."

A former housing activist on the Downtown Eastside, Davies pointed out that the Conservatives are simply following through with what the Liberals started. In 1993, she recalled, then–Liberal finance minister Paul Martin cut the national housing program.

"We've always supported what we call the one-percent solution, which is an additional one percent of the federal budget for housing," she said. "We need to see at least a couple of billion dollars a year."

Davies noted that while the Vancouver Olympics' housing roundtable identified (in a draft report) the need for at least 3,000 new housing units for low-income residents, nothing in the way of federal support was provided in the budget.

Davies said she also found it "astounding" that Prime Minister Stephen Harper didn't consider housing a priority because "presumably he was getting some pressure from Vancouver and they were expecting to see something, especially given the [2010] Olympics."

Vision Vancouver Coun. Raymond Louie said he is disappointed that Mayor Sam Sullivan's trips to Ottawa haven't produced tangible results in support of the city's housing needs. "Sam had been purported to have all this influence in Ottawa," Louie told the Straight. "He has travelled so many times to Ottawa, including for this budget, I understand, and has delivered zero in terms of value for the citizens of Vancouver."

According to Jenny Kwan, the NDP's MLA for Vancouver–Mount Pleasant, the province is faced with a housing crisis. Citing a study by the Greater Vancouver Regional District, she said that homelessness has more than doubled since 2002. The 2005 Greater Vancouver Homeless Count estimated there were 2,174 homeless people in the region.

"We are inviting the whole world to come for 2010 and our homeless crisis is only going to escalate," Kwan told the Straight. She noted that it is not only the federal government that has abdicated its responsibility for housing. Kwan recalled that when the B.C. Liberals assumed power in 2001, they took down the province's housing program.

Former banker Tung Chan told the Straight he is pleased with the federal budget. A former NPA city councillor with ties to the Conservatives, Chan said that the budget provided for increases in educational grants and contributions to educational savings, as well as more money for new-immigrant services.

Asked about housing, Chan said that the federal government could have made mortgage interest payments by homeowners tax-deductible. "That will provide some tax relief just like in the [United] States," he said. "Then there's more disposable incomes for families."

Howard Rotberg, a Vancouver-based developer who has worked on affordable housing, pointed out that it's not only social housing that's lacking in the federal budget.

"The new budget continues our neglect of the urgent need in our big cities to replenish the supply of rental housing, particularly affordable rental housing for our lower-income working people," Rotberg told the Straight. "The necessity to provide inducements to the private sector to re-enter this important enterprise has long been recognized south of the border and in certain provinces, like Ontario."

Writing in last summer's newsletter of the Social Planning and Research Council of B.C., Rotberg noted that some government policies make it "unattractive" for landlords to build new rental housing. For instance, a commercial landlord collects GST on commercial rents and is then able to write this off. However, the landlord of a residential rental building cannot write off GST collected, because residential rents are tax-exempt.

Rotberg also wrote that U.S. developers get tax credits, which help fund affordable rental housing. He claimed there's a need for "specialized mutual funds" in Canada to provide debt and equity funding.

Rotberg told the Straight that it is not sustainable to have cities such as Vancouver building millions of square feet of condos every year and zero square feet of rental accommodation.

Owners of leaky condos were also hoping to get something from the budget, and they were likewise disappointed. Carmen Maretic, president of the Consumer Advocacy and Support for Homeowners Society, told the Straight that there seems to be no indication that Harper will fulfill his election-campaign pledge to aid buyers of defective condominium units. And the B.C. Liberals are of no help either, she added.

"I'm very disgusted with the provincial government's scrutiny of the budget," Maretic said.
"They are upset there wasn't more money for pine beetle [relief], transportation, and the Olympics. It's appalling that they have made a throne speech in 2001 saying that they would seek assistance for fair compensation for leaky-condo owners, and in 2005 during the election they promised to ask the federal government for money, and again we don't hear them asking.
They're breaking their campaign promise to British Columbians, as [are] the Conservatives."

At the very least, Maretic suggested, the federal government should allow these condo owners to write off their repair expenses.

Give law the hook


March 23, 2007

When governments are too cowardly to repeal bad laws, the courts inevitably step in. Just as judges forced change on the medical marijuana issue, they will hopefully repeal our terrible prostitution laws.

Over the past couple of decades, government committees, independent experts and assorted advocacy organizations have recommended that our useless -- and dangerous -- prostitution laws be overturned.

Such diverse voices as the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the HIV/AIDS Legal Network and an RCMP-commissioned report have pleaded for change.

Even public opinion polls have indicated Canadians want prostitution legalized.

On this issue, however, federal politicians have steadfastly kept their heads buried in the sand. The thinking seems to be if the government continues to ignore the problem, it will eventually go away.

Unfortunately, it's impossible to sweep the disappearance and murder of dozens of prostitutes under the rug. When only the occasional sex-trade worker was being killed in the 1970s and early 1980s, it was easy to look the other way.

But with the Robert Pickton case dominating the news and Project Kare investigating the disappearance of scores of Alberta prostitutes, continuing to deny the link between our laws and the danger faced by hookers is absurd.

Still, the government is too lead-footed to act. So York University law professor Alan Young and three former sex-trade workers have launched a constitutional challenge to quash the laws against bawdy houses, communicating for the purpose of prostitution and living on the avails.

Just to be clear, Young doesn't want to strike down the pimping provisions that deal with procuring, exploitation and control. He just wants the section that bans living on the avails of prostitution repealed.

Young would like to see the current laws overturned so the provinces and municipalities can step in and regulate what will, hopefully, be a legal activity.

While the Supreme Court of Canada upheld our prostitution laws in 1990, there has been compelling evidence since then that not only is the law not achieving its objective, it's placing prostitutes in grave danger, says Young.

"You have murder on one side of the ledger and a big question mark on the government side," he says.

"You have to give a sex-trade worker on the street who is exposed to violence . . . legal options. And there are no legal options."

There are some people who are of the view that prostitution is degrading and hookers get what they deserve, he says.

But he suspects there are lots of Canadians who, even if they dislike prostitution, believe the state shouldn't be implementing anti-prostitution laws that endanger so many lives.

Prostitution, itself, is legal in Canada, remember. But our laws, especially the communicating provision enacted in 1985, make it virtually impossible for sex-trade workers to safely go about this supposedly legal activity.

Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks couldn't have dreamed up such legal hypocrisy.

There were few prostitute murders before 1985, notes John Lowman, a Simon Fraser University criminologist who is filing an affidavit in support of Young's constitutional challenge.

But between 1985 and 1994, 46 prostitutes were killed in B.C. He estimates about 50 were killed in that province between 1995 and 1999.

For years, police, politicians and neighhbourhood groups have emphasized the need to get rid of hookers, adds Lowman.

"(The communication law) gave serial killers just more justification to go and do exactly that."

Thursday, March 22

After being used -- or abused -- by lawyers for years,

Ah, yes, the world's oldest discussion.

What to do about the hookers among us.

Let's retire to the St. Lawrence Community Rec Centre on The Esplanade downtown.

Technically, I suppose, the Adult Lounge above the pool is a common bawdy house for an hour or so.

Milling about are hookers, ex-hookers, a dominatrix, lawyers and newshounds. Your basic social lepers.

I sit with Wendy Babcock, 27, who earns tuition for feminism studies at George Brown in unconventional ways.

"Lawyers are the worst," she once told me, recounting how a legal eagle tipped her a twoonie, then snatched it back for TTC fare.

There are lawyers on her online "bad date" list.

But they have other uses. Sometimes, they can right wrongs.

Which is why Osgoode law Prof. Alan Young and his motley crew of crusaders have called this press conference.

They are challenging our silly and dangerous laws on prostitution.


But wait, you exclaim. Prostitution is legal, right?

You bet your latex boots it is. Paying to get laid, flayed, or otherwise depraved is perfectly legit.
The trick, pardon the expression, is in Criminal Code edicts on business conduct.

One. Bawdy house law prevents hookers from bedding clients in a regular, safe haven, such as their home.

Two. They can't "communicate for the purpose of prostitution," which means scant screening of clients.

Says Young: "When you get into a car, how do you tell if you're being picked up by the Green River Killer or a customer who will show you respect?"

Three. "Living on the avails" is illegal. Pimps, sure, but also drivers, bodyguards, roommates. The cat?

"Even Mary Poppins couldn't work for a sex trade worker," says Young.

Chim chiminey. Chim chim cher-oo!

What's a hooker to do?

Our law lets her ply her trade, but helps make it perilous.

"There is nothing inherently dangerous about prostitution," says Sex Professionals of Canada director Val Scott.

"The laws force us to operate in totally unsafe conditions."


Scott's name is on the motion filed Tuesday by Young, 50, and a team of student volunteers in Ontario superior court. First date is May 31. All pro bono.

It challenges the three laws as "arbitrary." As in, they do far more harm than good and safety ought to outweigh moral issues.

Co-litigants are Terri Jean Bedford, 47, the famous Bondage Bungalow dominatrix, forced to retire by a liver ailment.

She's in a black suit and mid-thigh boots. Say, what's with the riding crop?

"To punish newsmen."

You'll have to wait in line.

The only place Ms Bedford felt safe was her dungeon, 'til the bawdy house law dragged her out of there by her bootstraps.

She still has a tender back from a client's kick years ago.

Still, she tells us, Toronto is an "S&M and fetish capital of the world." Finally. We're world-class.

The court challenge, aka The Safe Haven Initiative, says Terri, is "a great day for Canadian women everywhere."

Like third litigant, Amy Lebovitch, 28. "We are entitled to work safely with dignity and respect," she says.

I wish someone would save them, and the courts, the trouble. I wish the feds would clean up these goofy, creaky laws.


Analogies abound. Like: Your SUV is legal, but you're not allowed to wear a seatbelt, use turn signals, or park.

Unsafe. Stupid.

"Imagine," says second-year student Ehsan Ghebrai, 24, "having to go to work not knowing if you'll be subjected to some of the most horrific violence imaginable."

In a year of research for this, Ghebrai and a dozen other students found countless tales of rape, assaults and beatings.

And murder, of course. The Pickton case comes to mind. Other cases are brewing in Alberta, in Niagara, and in our own city.

Let's get real. No matter what you think of prostitution, it's here to stay and it's legal.

Let's at least make it safer.

Dead woman's kin still await answers

Body near Aldergrove first ruled 'death by exposure'

Suzanne Fournier
The Province

Thursday, March 22, 2007

C.J. Julian remembers working the Downtown Eastside streets and worrying which of her "street sisters" would disappear next.

"I was afraid to check the poster of missing women to see which one of my friends had gone missing next," said Julian yesterday.

Julian, 38, worked as a prostitute from the age of 12 until she was 33.

"The last time I saw my sister, Norma, at Main and Hastings, she said: 'Go home, baby girl,' three times in a row."

Police visited Julian two months later, in November 1992, to tell her that her sister's body had been found near Aldergrove and that she had died of exposure, although the Missing Women's Task Force now considers the death a homicide.

Julian, appearing at the second annual Indigenous Women's Empowerment Day at the Justice Institute of B.C., said her family is left with "a lot of unanswered questions and a lot of grief."

She now works with the Prostitutes Empowerment, Education and Resource Society (PEERS), which provides support for sex-trade workers who want to get off the streets.

Gloria Larocque, who organized the conference with the Aboriginal Health program of B.C. Women's Hospital, said: "We are holding this conference on the first day of spring to represent big hope and change."

Dr. Elizabeth Whynot, president of B.C. Women's Hospital, said the hospital runs several outreach programs, such as Sheway, which provides services to at-risk pregnant women or young parents.

The hospital also has an Aboriginal Health Program and will have clinic space at a new facility opening in the Downtown Eastside this fall.

Whynot said the goal of the hospital's outreach services "is to empower, educate and support women to take control over their own health."
© The Vancouver Province 2007

Wednesday, March 21

Jurors told no DNA match between Pickton and sex-trade workers found in 1995

680 News
March 21, 2007 - 16:54
NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. (CP) - An unidentified skull bearing the same cut marks as remains found on Robert Pickton's farm remains a mystery to this day, despite police efforts to match it to other cases.

RCMP Cpl. William Birnie testified at Pickton's trial on Wednesday, telling the court about his involvement with the investigation into a partial skull found near Mission, B.C., in 1995. DNA testing ruled out the head as being the remains of a murdered man from Delta, and though there was a tentative match with a missing woman named Jodi Franz, later testing proved the skull wasn't hers.

A man was eventually convicted with her death.

The same year the skull was found, jurors heard, the bodies of three sex trade workers were found on logging roads in the Mission and Agassiz areas.

Victoria Younker, Tammy Pipe and Tracy Olajide all disappeared from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, the same seedy neighbourhood that had been home to the 26 women Pickton is charged with killing.

He is currently on trial for six of those murders.

But though the same male DNA believed to be the killer's was found on two of the bodies, no one was ever charged with their deaths.

And defence lawyer Patrick McGowan brandished a police document in court on Wednesday stating that the DNA was proved not to belong to his client.

Jurors have spent the last two days listening to testimony about the partial skull found off Highway 7 in 1995.

They'd heard earlier in the trial that the skull had similar cut marks to the remains of Andrea Joesbury and Sereena Abotsway found on Pickton's farm.

They are two of the women Pickton is charged with killing.

Both the Crown and defence have agreed that remains of all six women were found on Pickton's Port Coquitlam property, but the defence denies he killed them.

The Crown moved its case later on Tuesday back to the massive search on Pickton's property in 2002 that eventually unearthed the remains.

Jurors heard how RCMP Sgt. James Gallant videotaped and photographed key sections of the huge property in the early days of the search, in some cases walking right by sites that later searches would reveal held remains.

Gallant also photographed a syringe in Pickton's trailer that jurors had earlier heard was filled with blue fluid.

Under cross-examination, the officer agreed to lawyer Marilyn Sandford's assertion that the fluid was later identified to be windshield washer fluid or a substance like that.

In the very early days of the trial, jurors had heard on a videotape that an acquaintance of Pickton, Scott Chubb, said the accused told him a good way to get rid of someone would be to fill a syringe with windshield washer fluid and inject them.

Gallant also worked on a motorhome on Pickton's property that jurors have already heard was spattered with blood the Crown asserts belongs to another woman Pickton is charged with killing, Mona Wilson.

The officer testified the vehicle was "in a state of disrepair" and he found rat excrement throughout.

It was later his unfortunate task, the defence put it, to seize items from the motorhome's septic tank, including condoms that Sandford said were never sent to the lab for analysis.

Gallant said he wasn't aware that was the case.

Gallant also moved beyond Pickton's property on Dominion Avenue to a site nearby on Burns Road.

"The only similarity I found (between the two sites) was that buried in the yard or partly buried was a large amount of women's clothing," Gallant testified.

Among the items seized were women's shoes, purses, panties, perfume bottles and a ball of duct tape with hair in it.

The Burns Road property was the site of a social club run by Pickton and his younger brother Dave.

Though jurors have heard that Dave was investigated by police looking into the disappearances of women from Vancouver, he was never charged with any crime.
Serial Killer in 1995

Sex-trade workers challenge Criminal Code

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 21, 2007 3:08 PM ET
CBC News
Toronto sex-trade workers are spearheading a legal crusade to amend laws they say ndanger Canadians working in the industry.

In a statement released Tuesday, advocates for sex-trade workers announced they will launch a constitutional challenge to three provisions of the federal Criminal Code that they say deprive sex workers of a safe working environment.

Valerie Scott and Amy Lebovitch, members of Sex Professionals of Canada (SPOC) and former dominatrix Terri Jean Bedford will ask the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to strike down the Criminal Code sections that ban bawdy houses, communicating with potential clients and living on avails of prostitution.

In its written statement, SPOC argues that these laws violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by depriving sex workers of their right to liberty and security.

"The act of prostitution itself is legal in Canada, yet the provisions challenged in this application operate to deny sex workers safe legal options for the conducting of legal business," the statement reads.

A primary concern is how these laws place women in greater danger of physical violence.

Rise in violence

Scott, SPOC's executive director, says there is a link between the introduction of the laws and the rise in violence against female sex workers. She points to the communicating law as a direct cause.

"Since it became law on Dec. 21, 1985, there have been between 400 and 500 sex workers either confirmed murdered or missing in Canada. That's an astronomical amount of women gone missing and this is really a direct result of the law," she told CBC News.

"Women are forced to work alone — not in pairs, not in threes, alone — so no one knows what kind of car they're getting into … they are alone with someone and no one knows where they are. As a result of this, the bodies are surfacing."

With accused serial killer Robert Pickton's trial continuing in British Columbia, violence against sex trade workers remains a high-profile issue in Canada. But SPOC says awareness alone will not protect sex trade workers.

"Though the ongoing trial of Robert Pickton has brought worldwide attention to the dangers sex-trade workers are exposed to on the streets, the trial will not in any way address the larger legal and political issue of how to prevent the continuing disappearance and murder of sex trade workers," the group's statement reads.

"As the Pickton trial unfolds, it must be remembered that this horrific story is not an isolated phenomena."

A massive challenge

Striking down three sections of Canada's Criminal Code won't be easy and Scott admits her expectations aren't high.

"It's a massive legal challenge and we'll be lucky of we receive a judgment at the end of this," she said.

However, she said she remains confident that any success will trigger many positive changes for sex-trade workers.

"[The industry] would change dramatically. If sex work were decriminalized in Canada, women could work together and most women would choose to work inside, especially given Canada's climate," she laughed.

"We would have protection under general workplace law and I think it would improve the whole profession dramatically."

Tuesday, March 20

Father and son charged in slaying of teenager

RCMP ask for help tracing truckers that had 'relationships' with young runaways

Glenn Bohn, with files from Chad Skelton
Vancouver Sun

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A father and son who both call themselves Blue have been charged with the murder of 14-year-old Chelsey Acorn, a runaway whose body was discovered in a shallow grave near a Coquihalla Highway exit north of Hope almost one year ago.

Police alleged Monday the 54-year-old father and his 22-year-old-son sought out and befriended troubled teens -- including Acorn, who went missing from a foster home in Abbotsford in June, 2005.

Insp. Wayne Rideout of the RCMP's Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said the two men are suspects only in Acorn's murder.

But Rideout made a public appeal for information on the movements and activities of the father and son during the past several years.

"We are aware that both men have been in contact with youth at risk in the past and have engaged in relationships with young women, runaways, street persons," Rideout said Monday during a news conference in Surrey. "It's very critical to our investigation that we get a further understanding of the scope of that contact."

To that end, police took the unusual step of making public photographs of the two accused -- Jessie Blue West, 54, and his son Dustin Moir, 22, who also uses the name Blue.

They were arrested together in North Vancouver Friday afternoon and are charged with first-degree murder.

West last lived in Victoria and his son last lived in Whistler, but Rideout said they moved around a lot and also lived in Surrey and Abbotsford during the past year.

Rideout said another reason police decided to release photographs is that West used so many aliases. Those false names include: Garry Wayne Vance, Jesse Blue Bizuk, Michael Harrison, John Angus Cameron, Richard Ciouata, Ben Jansen, Alan King and John Ford.

West's last trucking job was with Can-Am West Carriers in Abbotsford, which refused to comment.

Under the Criminal Code of Canada, a murder becomes a first-degree murder if it is "planned and deliberate," but someone can also be convicted of first-degree murder if they kill someone during a sexual assault or a sexual assault with a weapon.

Court records indicate West has been before the courts several times over the past few years.

Last year, West was charged in Surrey with sexual assault and touching a young person for a sexual purpose. West has also been charged three times over the past five years with criminal harassment, more commonly known as stalking. In all three cases, West was fined and released on a peace bond.

West was also convicted in March 2006 of uttering threats, for which he received a suspended sentence and six months probation.

Moir was charged with sexual assault in Abbotsford in 2004 but was acquitted at trial in January 2006.

Two hikers found Acorn's body on April 8, 2006 near the Carolin Mines exit of the Coquihalla.
Through forensic examination, police estimated Acorn's body was put there sometime in the fall of 2005. Police haven't revealed how Acorn died or whether she was sexually assaulted.

Rideout said police would like to talk to others who knew the father and son so they can develop a timeline or history of where they went and who they had relationships with.

"We are interested in any information -- any personal contacts, any personal involvement -- these two individuals had with any person, for any reason," Rideout said.

Anyone with information is asked to call their local police, the IHIT tip line, at 1-866-373-7886, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 if they want to remain anonymous.

Rideout said 16 investigators have been working on the case for the past year and it took that long to gather the evidence needed to lay charges.

West and Moir made their first court appearance on the murder charge on Monday at Provincial Court in Chilliwack. They remain behind bars. They next appear in court March 26.
- - -
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Free to full-week print subscribers or register for a seven-day free trial.

© The Vancouver Sun 2007

Sunday, March 18

Missing Pieces - Text available - Missing "Jessica Louise Foster"

(Please forward to other groups and individuals)

Guest: Glendene Grant
I Have A Missing Daughter...

Mother of missing "Jessica Louise Foster"

Special Thanks to our guest:
Glendene Grant
for volunteering to
transcribe this episode!

Other show's in archives --

The private war of women soldiers

Helen Benedict
The Ottawa Citizen
Sunday, March 18, 2007

Many female soldiers say they are sexually assaulted by their male comrades and can't trust the military to protect them. 'The knife wasn't for the Iraqis,' says one woman. 'It was for the guys on my own side'

As thousands of burned-out soldiers prepare to return to Iraq to fill President George Bush's unwelcome call for at least 20,000 more troops, I can't help wondering what the women among those troops will have to face. And I don't mean only the hardships of war, the killing of civilians, the bombs and mortars, the heat and sleeplessness and fear.

I mean from their own comrades -- the men.

I have talked to more than 20 female veterans of the Iraq war in the past few months, and all said the danger of rape by other soldiers is so widely recognized in Iraq that their officers routinely told them not to go to the latrines or showers without another woman for protection.

The female soldiers who were at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, for example, where U.S. troops go to demobilize, told me they were warned not to go out at night alone.

"They call Camp Arifjan 'generator city' because it's so loud with generators that even if a woman screams she can't be heard," said Abbie Pickett, 24, a specialist with the 229th Combat Support Engineering Company who spent 15 months in Iraq from 2004-05.

Mickiela Montoya, 21, who was in Iraq with the National Guard in 2005, took to carrying a knife at all times. "The knife wasn't for the Iraqis," she told me. "It was for the guys on my own side."

Comprehensive statistics on the sexual assault of female soldiers in Iraq have not been collected, but former Defence Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld ordered a task force in 2004 to investigate.
As a result, the Defence Department put up a website in 2005 designed to clarify that sexual assault is illegal and to help women report it. It also initiated required classes on sexual assault and harassment. The military's definition of sexual assault includes "rape; nonconsensual sodomy; unwanted inappropriate sexual contact or fondling; or attempts to commit these acts."

Unfortunately, with a greater number of women serving in Iraq than ever before, these measures are not keeping women safe. When you add in the high numbers of war-wrecked soldiers being redeployed, and the fact that the military is waiving criminal and violent records for more than one in 10 new Army recruits, the picture for women looks bleak indeed.

Last year, Col. Janis Karpinski caused a stir by publicly reporting that in 2003, three female soldiers had died of dehydration in Iraq because they refused to drink liquids late in the day.
They were afraid of being raped if they walked to the latrines after dark. The Army calls charges unsubstantiated, but Karpinski sticks by them. (Karpinski was demoted from brigadier general for her role as commander of Abu Ghraib. As the highest-ranking official to lose her job over the torture scandal, she claims she was scapegoated, and has become an outspoken critic of the military's treatment of women. In turn, the Army has accused her of sour grapes.)

"I sat right there when the doctor briefing that information said these women had died in their cots," Karpinski told me. "I also heard the deputy commander tell him not to say anything about it because that would bring attention to the problem." The latrines were far away and unlit, she explained, and male soldiers were jumping women who went to them at night, dragging them into the Port-a-Johns, and raping or abusing them. She said the deaths were reported as non-hostile fatalities.

More than 160,500 American female soldiers have served in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East since the war began in 2003, which means one in seven soldiers is a woman. Women make up 15 per cent of active duty forces, four times more than in the 1991 Gulf War. At least 450 women have been wounded in Iraq, and 71 have died. And women are fighting in combat.

Officially, the Pentagon prohibits women from serving in ground combat units such as the infantry, but mention this ban to any female soldier in Iraq and she will scoff. This is a war with no front lines or safe zones, no hiding from in-flying mortars, car and roadside bombs, and not enough soldiers. As a result, women are coming home with missing limbs, mutilating wounds and severe trauma.

Yet, despite the equal risks women are taking, they are still being treated as inferior soldiers and sex toys. As Abbie Pickett told me: "It's like sending three women to live in a frat house."
- - -
Rape, sexual assault and harassment are nothing new to the U.S. military. They were a serious problem in Vietnam, and the rapes and sexual hounding of Navy women at Tailhook in 1991 and of Army women at Aberdeen in 1996 became international news. A 2003 U.S. survey of female veterans from Vietnam through the first Gulf War found that 30 per cent said they were raped in the military. A 2004 study of veterans from Vietnam and all the wars since, who were seeking help for post-traumatic stress disorder, found that 71 per cent of the women said they were sexually assaulted or raped while in the military. And in a study conducted in 1992-93 with female veterans of the Gulf War and earlier wars, 90 per cent said they had been sexually harassed in the military.

"That's one of the things I hated the most," said Caryle Garcia, 24, who served with the Combat Military Police in Baghdad from 2003-04. "You walk into the chow hall and there's a bunch of guys who just stop eating and stare at you. Every time you bend down, somebody will say something. It got to the point where I was afraid to walk past certain people because I didn't want to hear their comments."

Pickett, who refuelled and drove trucks over the bomb-ridden roads in Iraq, was one of 19 women in a 160-troop unit. She said the men imported cases of porn, and talked such filth at the women all the time that she became worn down. "We shouldn't have to think every day, 'How am I going to go out there and deal with being harassed?'"

Pickett herself was sexually attacked when she was training in Nicaragua before being deployed to Iraq. "I was sexually assaulted by a superior officer when I was 19, but I didn't know where to turn, so I never reported it," she told me.

Women told me the military climate is so severe on whistle-blowers that even they regarded the women who reported rape as incapable traitors. You have to handle it on your own and shut up, is how they saw it. Only on their return home, with time and distance, did they become outraged at how much sexual persecution of women goes on.

Military platoons are enclosed, hierarchical societies, riddled with gossip, so any woman who reports a rape has no realistic chance of remaining anonymous. She will have to face her assailant day after day and put up with rumours, resentment and blame from other soldiers.
She runs the risk of being punished by her assailant if he is her superior.

Even the Defence Department has been scrambling to mend the situation, at least for the public eye. It won't go so far as to gather statistics on rape and assault in Iraq (it only counts reported rapes in raw numbers for all combat areas in the Middle East combined), but in 2006 the DOD did finally wake up to the idea that anonymous reporting might help women come forward, and updated its website accordingly.

The website looks good, although some may object that it seems to pay more attention to telling women how to avoid an assault than telling men not to commit one. It defines rape, sexual assault and harassment, and makes clear they are illegal. The site explains that a soldier can report a rape anonymously to a special department, SAPR (Sexual Assault Prevention and Response), without triggering an official investigation -- a procedure called "restricted reporting." And it promises the soldier a victim's advocate and medical care.

On closer scrutiny, however, the picture is less rosy: Only active and federal duty soldiers can go to SAPR for help, which means neither inactive reservists nor veterans are eligible; soldiers are encouraged to report rapes to a chaplain, and chaplains are not trained as rape counsellors; if soldiers tell a friend about an assault, that friend is legally obliged to report it to officials; soldiers must disclose their rank, gender, age, race, service and the date, time and/or location of the assault, which in the closed world of a military unit hardly amounts to anonymity; and, in practice, since most people in the Army are men, the soldier will likely find herself reporting her sexual assault to a man -- something rape counsellors know does not work. Worse, no measures will be taken against the accused assailant unless the victim agrees to stop being anonymous.

The DOD insists on the success of its reforms, the proof being that the number of reported military sexual assaults rose by 1,700 from 2004 to a total of 2,374 in 2005. "The success of the SAPR program is in direct correlation with the increased numbers of reported sexual assaults," Cynthia Smith, a Defence Department spokeswoman, wrote to me in an e-mail.

In fact, as anyone familiar with sexual assault statistics knows, nobody can ever tell whether increases in rape rates are due to more reporting or more rapes.

My own interviewees and advocates on behalf of women veterans say there is a huge gap between what the military promises to do on its website and what it does in practice.

"Are soldiers who report sexual assaults in the military still seen as betraying their comrades?" I asked Smith.

"Our soldiers are being fully trained that sexual assault is the most under-reported crime," she wrote in reply. "In that training, not reporting a sexual assault is the betrayal to their comrades."
- - -
Back in real life, Pickett watched several of her friends try to report sexual harassment and assault since the 2005 reforms. "These women are turning perpetrators in and they're not getting anyone to speak on their behalf," she told me. In the end, she added, it boils down to the woman's word versus the man's, and he is the one with the advocate.

I am not claiming that sexual persecution is universal in the military, or that it is inevitable.
Several soldiers I interviewed told me that if a commander won't tolerate the mistreatment of women, it will not happen, and studies back this up. Jennifer Hogg, 25, who was a sergeant in the Army's National Guard, said her company treated her well because she had a commander who wouldn't permit the mistreatment of women.

While commanders of some units are apparently less vigilant about policing rape, others engage in it themselves, a phenomenon known in the military as "command rape." Because the military is hierarchical, and because soldiers are trained to obey and never question their superiors, men of rank can assault their juniors with impunity. In most cases, women soldiers are the juniors, 18 to 20 years old, and are new to the military and war, thus vulnerable to bullying and exploitation.

Callie Wight, a psychosocial counsellor in women veterans' health in Los Angeles, has been treating women who were sexually assaulted in the military for the past 11 years. She told me she has only seen a handful of cases where a woman reported an assault to her commander with any success in getting the assailant punished. "Most commanders dismiss it," she said. A nine-month study of military rape by the Denver Post in 2003 found that nearly 5,000 accused military sex offenders had avoided prosecution since 1992.

The real attitude in the military is this: If you tell, you are going to get punished. The assailant, meanwhile, will go free.

Which brings up an issue that lies at the core of every soldier's heart: comradeship.
It is for their comrades that soldiers enlist and re-enlist. It is for their "battle buddies" that they risk their lives and put up with all the miseries of sandstorms, polluted water, lack of sanitation and danger. Soldiers go back to Iraq, even if they've turned against the war, so as not to let their buddies down. Comradeship is what gets men through war, and is what has always got men through war. You protect your battle buddy, and your battle buddy protects you.

As an Iraq veteran put it to me: "There's nobody you love like you love a person who's willing to take a bullet for you."

So how does this work for women? A few find buddies among the other women, but for most there are no other women, so their battle buddies are men. Some of these men are trustworthy. Many are not.

How can a man who pressures you for sex every day, who treats you like a prostitute, who threatens or punishes you if you refuse him, or who actually attacks you, be counted on to watch your back in battle?

"Battle buddy bullshit," said Garcia from the military police. "I saw so many girls get screwed over, the sexual harassment. I didn't trust anybody and I still don't."

If this is a result of the way women are treated in the military, where does it leave them when it comes to battle camaraderie? I asked soldier after soldier this, and they all gave me the same answer:

Helen Benedict writes for Salon where a longer version of this article first appeared.

© The Ottawa Citizen 2007

Friday, March 16

Murdered woman's family needs answers

Relatives attend trial, travel to farm

By Dana Brown
The Hamilton Spectator
(Mar 16, 2007)

The sorrow hanging in the air at a former Port Coquitlam pig farm was all Lilliane Beaudoin could feel as she stood at the gate.

Through the wire fence that blocked the entrance, all she could see was dirt. The ground had been levelled.

She couldn't see any sign of a structure. No sign of a trailer, animal slaughterhouse or any other building alleged to have played a role in the gruesome deaths of dozens of women.

She couldn't see any sign of where her sister, Dianne (Marin) Rock, might have experienced her final moments. "On the way there, you think to yourself, 'This is her last path. This is the last road she took in her life,'" Beaudoin says. "These were the gateways where she entered the property, where she thought she was going to be safe."

Rock is one of 26 women accused serial killer Robert Pickton is charged with murdering. The petite, pretty, 34-year-old mother of five was last seen Oct. 19, 2001. Pickton was arrested in February 2002.

Police have told Rock's family that her DNA was found on Pickton's British Columbia pig farm. But exactly what that is -- a tooth, a hair strand, or something more substantial -- the family doesn't know.

At the entrance to the former farm, Beaudoin stood firm, arms linked with workers from the Victims' Services and Community Programs agency. They cried and talked for half an hour. She released so much of what had built up in the years since her sister's disappearance.

Her mother, Ella Marin, watched from the car. She did not want to come to the gate.

For Beaudoin, the morning was part of a week-long culmination, which included attending the Pickton trial, in the search for answers about her sister's life and death.

Rock joined the Marin family when she was just six weeks old and was adopted by the time she was four. She was raised in Welland and struggled when she was young, but had been doing well in Vancouver. A rough divorce hit her hard and she backslid into drugs and began working in the sex trade. She was only on the streets a matter of months before she disappeared.

Although Pickton is charged with her death, a decision to sever the cases means Rock's case is not being tried as part of the first six. Hers is one of 20 cases that will be tried at a later date. The decision to sever the cases is one the family has never agreed with.

Late last month, Beaudoin and her mother travelled from Welland to the site of the trial in New Westminster, B.C. to find whatever answers they could and show their support for other families of victims.

They wanted to make sure Rock was not just a name. She had a history and a family who loved her, just like all of the women.

Victims' Services paid for the trip.

For nearly five hours a day, the pair sat in the second row of the courtroom, Pickton less than two metres away, blocked by a glass wall and a see-through prisoner's box.

"Through the whole time, not once did he even give anyone a glance," Beaudoin says.

As she listened to what was found on the farm -- blood spatters, condoms and syringes -- she would think this was somehow part of her sister's story.

Sometimes she would hold her mother's hand, other times she would just ask her if it was too much.

"My purpose was to get the most meaningful (experience) out of this I could," Beaudoin says. "And if that meant for me to sit in that courtroom, to be tortured, day by day, that's what I was going to do."

The pair visited a memorial site dedicated to all of the women who have been murdered. They also took a slow drive down the notorious Hastings Street, where Beaudoin watched girls huddled on corners, tucked in alleyways shooting up or searching for a fix.

She was reminded of Vancouver two days after she came home, when murdered sex trade worker Stephine Isabelle Beck, 29, was found in nearby Vineland.

The discovery scared her, Beaudoin says, and felt like deja vu.

Still, facing the trial, the memorial and the farm have helped Beaudoin start the healing process.
She's calmer now. Even though she doesn't have all the answers, she has some,and she'll continue the fight for more.

"We're a family that needs to know," Beaudoin says.

"We don't need to know the full gruesome details, no. But we still need for them to prove to me my sister was murdered by him on that farm."
The Hamilton Spectator

Tapping into our deepest fears

The Toronto Star
Mar 16, 2007 04:30 AM
Rosie DiManno

Jack the Ripper. Night Stalker. Son of Sam. Boston Strangler. Milwaukee Cannibal. Angel of Death. Moors Murderers. Green River Killer. Boston Strangler. Beltway Sniper. Zodiac.
Here be monsters. The human tendency is to sensationalize the incomprehensible, even cartoon-mock it by slapping lurid nicknames on the perpetrators, tapping into our childlike fascination with the bogeyman.

An invention of tabloid headline writers, most often, except when – as with the Zodiac – serial killers adopt their own media-handy moniker.

"This is the Zodiac speaking,'' the never-apprehended murderer of at least five San Francisco area victims (two others survived their wounds) wrote in letters he sent to newspapers, taunting police for their inability to catch him.

They think themselves very clever, although the "Hannibal the Cannibal'' archetype is, like that fictionalized character, largely a mythical creation. For those who prey particularly on the most vulnerable amongst us, children, or the most expendable, prostitutes and runaways, a high IQ isn't required. Apart from the fact of their atrocities, most lack distinction, making little impression on those who know them.

Exhibit A: Robert "Willie'' Pickton, now on trial in New Westminster, B.C., charged with murdering six women, mostly streetwalkers and drug addicts from Vancouver's derelict Lower East Side. May have killed 49 women, as hinted at in surreptitiously videotaped jailhouse conversations with an undercover officer.

If so, that would make Pickton the most prolific homicidal maniac in North American history, a notch above the Green River Killer, who admitted to stabbing or strangling 48 women as part of a plea agreement that spared him the death penalty.

In fact, neither culprit (or alleged) probably comes close to record levels of murder mayhem. John Henry Lucas claimed to have killed hundreds, though he later recanted his confession. And, since 1993, someone has been savagely mutilating young women working at foreign-owned sweatshop factories in the Mexican city of Juarez – upwards of 300 victims, believed slain by the same person.

Thus far, in evidence heard by the Pickton jury, "biggest'' and "baddest'' killer in the annals of crime makes as much sense as a motivating factor as anything else. But prosecutors don't have to prove motive. Only the rest of us wonder why.

One reason, as for so many who kill and brag, or kill and read their clippings, is celebrity.

If you can't be famous, be infamous.

A member that lingers of the Pickton trial – now nine weeks on – is of the accused, on tape, reading of himself in the local papers, transfixed by the reportage. Repeatedly he professes unhappy astonishment at his newfound fame.

At first, this displeasure strikes the observer as genuine. Upon further consideration, it feels disingenuous.

Investigators and reporters have come away from matters Pickton puzzled by this cipher of a man, who describes himself as a good bloke, generous to prostitutes and others down on their luck, although – he says – they inevitably took advantage of him, stealing and such.

Dim-witted enough, at least in the opinion of his late mother, that a proviso of her will was that Willie's siblings take care of him for life because he couldn't be trusted to his own devices. In the most recent audio tape played for the jury – "Bob's Memoirs,'' recorded for a woman known only as "Victoria'' – Pickton hints self-piteously at the austerity of his existence growing up.

"I had a hard life, I'm telling you, I had a hard life.''

As a child, he says, he wore hand-me-downs or clothes made by his mother, except for one Christmas when he received a brand new outfit.

"I went outside there, my clothes were all full of starch and had never been washed. I said, `It hurts me, it hurts me!'''

He tore off the clothes and ran away.

At another point on the tape, Pickton – a homely fellow, to be kind – claims he was once offered work as a model in Detroit, at $40 an hour, which reeks of fantasy. He talks about wanting to build his own house, with four to six rooms, "a spiral staircase,'' a tennis court and swimming pool. But all he ever did was work the farm, butcher hogs, fix up stolen cars and pick up hookers.

No there, there. Either still waters run deep or it was always just surface scum.

Pickton, obviously, has yet to be found guilty of anything by a jury. But all manner of compulsions drive serial killers – blood-lust, rage, hatred, a perceived sense of having been done wrong, and sexual perversion.

Books have been written about notorious serial killers, movies filmed, most recently Zodiac, which is less about the individual who terrorized a swath of California in the late '60s and more about the frustration of investigators, including the high-profile homicide cop upon whom "Dirty Harry'' was modelled as a cinematic icon. The movie is playing to huge and rapt audiences, many of whom cannot recall a time when police helicopters chaperoned school buses after Zodiac threatened to pick off children.

The Beltway Sniper did that too, although he – actually it was they, an embittered army vet and his teenage proxy, the trigger-boy – actually did shoot an adolescent in the stomach during a three-week rampage around the U.S. capital in 2002. At trial later, it was suggested that John Allen Muhammad, who'd groomed a juvenile Lee Boyd Malvo for the purpose, was more cunning than random, his longer-range plan to kill a despised ex-wife in Baltimore so that her murder would point away from him, to the sniper.

Intrinsic maladjustment renders many loners and losers, though there are always exceptions. Ted Bundy, the preppie who preyed on pretty co-eds, made a name for himself as a rising young star of the local Republican party; John Wayne Gacy was a pillar of the community and successful businessman who devoted himself to charitable causes – when he wasn't torturing and murdering 33 young men. (His last words before execution by lethal injection: "Kiss my ass.'')

They lack all empathy, are generally incapable of love, and feel pity only for themselves, staggeringly narcissistic.

The Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez, put it thusly: "Serial killers have a dead conscience. No morals, no scruples, no conscience.''

Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

The Toronto Star

Thursday, March 15

We Were Not The Savages - The Lion's Story

By Daniel Paul on

I realized the world saw me as dirt when I was just five years old. Today, systemic racism instilled in the majority of Caucasians by colonial demonizing propaganda depicting our ancestors as the ultimate sub-human savage, is still widespread. Interestingly, although both Canada and the United States claim to be compassionate countries with justice for all, neither is making any viable effort to substitute demonizing colonial propaganda with the truth. The media is indifferent too because they’re controlled by white society. This is why I wrote We Were Not The Savages, my small effort to air as much of the truth as possible.

Recently, the Robert Pickton serial killer trial has captured front page headlines. Although many of his alleged victims were First Nations women, I believe he's only a hot story because of the number of white women that were murdered. This is evidenced by another serial killer story - that of John Martin Crawford, who is serving time for torturing, raping and murdering four Cree women. His trial unfolded at the same time that Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka were being tried for killing white women. We all remember Bernardo and Homolka, yet Crawford enjoys relative anonymity in obscurity. Society takes no notice of evils committed against Aboriginal Peoples. It's high time to rock the boat, and rock it hard.

The rest of the story on Orato.
We Were Not The Savages - The Lion's Story, by Daniel Paul

Daniel Paul's website: First Nation's History - We Were Not the Savages'kmaqHistory.html

Documentary traces plight of missing aborginal women

The Edmonton Journal
Thursday, March 15, 2007

On the night of March 8, while the media were pressing up to Stephen Harper, a few blocks away at the Stanley Milner Library a few hundred people settled in to watch the National Film Board documentary, Finding Dawn.

Finding Dawn is not a comfortable film. It drops you into the lives, circumstances and familial relationships of six murdered or missing aboriginal women. One of these stories is Dawn's, whose DNA was discovered on the Pickton farm.

The film puts faces to the names, and it does this with reverence and without exploitation. But it ends up bringing into view the many hundreds of victims too long hidden by our culture's attitudes toward aboriginal women.

While this is a deeply distressing film--- many people wept silently in the dark theatre -- it is full of hope and strength. At its conclusion, we listened to a panel of native women whose own stories reflect possibility and promise.

One panellist was Janice Acoose, who appeared in the film. Janice is a generational victim of the sort of Christian colonialism that was residential schools. While growing up and as a former prostitute, she suffered abuse at the hands of white and native men. It was through remembering her historical traditions that she found the strength to fight her way into and through university. She is now a professor, author and native activist.

Another panellist was Dawn Hodgins, a survivor of the street, a survivor of an attempted murder at the hands of a john, who now channels her own anger into a fiery hope as project co-ordinator for the Prostitution Awareness and Action Foundation of Edmonton (PAAFE).

The third was Margo Pariseau, who with the serenity born of being at peace with herself, quietly weaved her own story of hope through struggle. Margo is now an aboriginal consultant for the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women.

This event exposed my own slow heart and passive attitude. There needed to be more than a handful of white males present. I was disappointed as well that more native men didn't attend.

I'm also angry that on this International Women's Day not one reporter was on hand to cover the event. I'm not dismissing the importance of the prime minister being in town and making announcements on that night. But the media's absence, and our collective absence, seems to confirm our intransigent attitude over the plight of aboriginal women.

Stephen Berg, director of development, Hope Mission, Edmonton

© The Edmonton Journal 2007

Sisters' tenuous bond grows even as a killer separates them

Tuesday, March 13

Sisters' tenuous bond grows even as killer separates them


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

BELLEVUE -- Rosalee Walton, at 44, still wants to know her sister Dawn Crey. This prospect, difficult since childhood, is both easier and harder since Crey's suspected murder in fall 2000.

Walton knows their shared story. It's short: Separated by provincial authorities in British Columbia in 1962 when she was an infant in a home with no dad and an alcoholic mom, Walton (then Crey), her sister and five other siblings ended up scattered among Chilliwack, B.C., foster homes.

Some drifted. Some drank. Rosalee Crey caught a break -- a stable home and loving new family. Today, she's married and lives in a multilevel ranch house in a leafy, middle-class neighborhood with peekaboo views of Lake Washington.

"You can see it right there through the trees," she said, pointing over the koi pond that her husband, Fred Walton, built.

Dawn, four years older, tipped the other way: Bumped between foster families and a stranger to her little sister, she eventually tumbled to Vancouver's Tenderloin, finding heroin, hooking and death. DNA evidence indicates her remains were among those of dozens of prostitutes authorities say perished at the pig farm owned by William Pickton.

Pickton is on trial in Vancouver for Canada's largest-ever serial murder investigation. It began five years ago, before the Green River Killer case concluded. More than 60 women, including Crey, had disappeared over a decade from a four-block area of downtown.
Crey's is among the DNA discovered in 2004 within tons of dirt and debris from the farm analyzed by investigators. Pickton has been formally charged with 26 murders and is on trial in six of them. Police suspect him in many more. He has not been charged in Crey's death.

Walton, who for the past 11 years has lived in the States, catches the news as the trial unfolds. It's no way to get to know your sister.

'We were strangers'

Rosalee was two weeks old when her father died. Family lore has it that he died of heart failure with his head in Dawn's lap. She was 4 at the time.

With seven children to feed and problem drinking in her past, Rosalee's mother, Minnie, returned to the bottle.

"Both my Mom and my Dad had quit drinking and we had been living a pretty stable life," Walton said. "But it was too difficult after he died. She started drinking again. She was unable to look after us."
The Ministry of Children and Family Development arrived and took the children in late 1962 before Rosalee, the youngest, turned a year old. The oldest child, Gordon, 15, was left at home. Authorities took the rest, paired them up (except the infant Rosalee) and placed them in foster homes. Dawn, 4, and Faith, 6, were sent to the first of several homes.
For Rosalee, who was too young to remember any of this, it's a separation that today can't be fully bridged. She ended up in a stable home with family that soon tried to adopt her. But as a Cheam Band member, a part of the indigenous Sto:lo tribe, she could not be adopted by a non-member under Canadian law.

In the end, the adoption became a formal contract for permanent relationship. They became her family. It remains so. Rosalee's childhood stabilized, normalized. She went to grade school, made friends, loved her family.

Chilliwack, on the Frasier River, is a small logging and agricultural town, where chance encounters occur at a rate more often than chance. Rosalee knew she had siblings. She'd see other children around town who looked and talked like her. But they scared her; she didn't want to get to know them.

"We were strangers, except for those who lived together. But we would see each other, we'd make eye contact and we would just know."

Beginning to connect

Sitting in her living room recently, Rosalee Walton wonders if deep down she worried that getting closer to her blood siblings might mean leaving her foster family.

"The whole idea of this other family, it was threatening," she said.

She remembers the silver handrails, the big foyer and the staircase. This is where the children played before and after church. They'd swing under the handrails, run up the stairs. Two girls approached her while she played. She was 5 or 6. They said they were Faith and Dawn. They said they were her sisters.

"I thought, 'How could they be my sisters? I live with my sisters.' I said, 'No you're not.' "

But she always listened for information about her brothers and sisters -- which families they stayed with. She knew Dawn sometimes ran away. Rosalee stored it all away.

In the summer, children in Chilliwack made money picking berries. Rosalee knew Dawn's foster mother was the field boss. One day, picking with her foster mom, Rosalee ended up in the row next to her older sister.

At 16, Dawn was cute with jet-black hair. She already had a 1-year-old who was in the field with her. "I didn't want to talk to her. I was so nervous. I was afraid of the situation. My mom talked to her. She asked her all sorts of questions about my family."

Rosalee played with Dawn's son. She looked at him, who looked like Dawn, who looked like her. And she began to feel the connection.

"I don't think any family can teach you about a biological connection. It's so innate. I think through my nephew, I began to connect."

But Dawn had begun to unravel.

A prostitute disappears

Through her sister Lorraine, Rosalee kept track of Dawn. Dawn did the same with her.

Then in 1988, Rosalee became a Walton and moved to Edmonton, where the couple lived for 10 years. She grew closer to her brother Bruce, but drifted from contact with Dawn.

"The last time I saw her was in the 1980s," Walton said.

With better job prospects for her husband (a program manager) in the States, the couple settled first in Renton, then Bellevue. In the late 1990s she saw the horrific news reports of the conditions in east downtown Vancouver, near the corner of Main and Hastings -- an intersection thick with prostitutes and addicts nicknamed "Pain and Wastings." She knew Dawn lived there.
In 2000, Rosalee and Lorraine talked about spending Christmas together. She asked about Dawn. She wondered if Dawn would like to talk, to join them. Lorraine, excited, said "absolutely." Lorraine called the last place she knew Dawn was living to arrange a meeting. She left a message.

The sisters didn't want to wait. They drove to Vancouver's Balmoral Hotel, at the time a moldering single-room occupancy hotel. The manager said he hadn't seen Dawn for weeks and that he had some of her stuff. She still owed for rent, he said.

The sisters canvassed downtown. Other people had seen Dawn but all said it had been roughly three weeks since.

For all of her problems, Dawn never moved without telling Lorraine. They checked the methadone clinic. Dawn's caseworker hadn't seen her in a month. It was Dec. 21, 2000.

Learning about Dawn

Over the next three years, knowledge arrived like a series of earthquakes. The sisters and brothers who had begun to reconnect learned that 60 women, like Dawn, had disappeared from that four-block neighborhood over the past 15 years.

They learned the police refused to believe there might be a serial killer. They talked to Dawn's friends and learned about her life on the streets, her kindness to the people around her even as she abused herself in the hours between johns.

Rosalee learned that Dawn, like her, loved books and read voraciously. She learned that Dawn was tough and smart to have lasted in east downtown for 20 years.

But the cops weren't talking. And a transient neighborhood's memory is short. The information began to dry up.

Then came the call.

It was her brother. Ernie said police had raided a farm west of Vancouver. There were rumors of body parts, recovered purses and parties with prostitutes that some never returned from.

"When I heard the arrest of Pickton -- my brother called me to tell me to watch the news -- I had been wondering if it was (Gary) Ridgway."

Dawn had been missing three years at that point.

As the Royal Canadian Mounted Police deepened their investigation, they began to collect DNA. They contacted relatives of women who had been reported missing for comparable DNA samples. Lorraine and Ernie provided swabs.

They found a match.

Now Rosalee Walton follows the trial, spending more time immersed in Dawn's life than she had before her sister's death. She's close to her siblings now and they try to vacation together.

And even now, she learns more about her sister, through a Canadian documentary, "Finding Dawn." Lorraine and Ernie were interviewed for the film.

Filmmaker Christine Welch, a part-time teacher at the University of Victoria, said Dawn's story was compelling because she represents Canadian women lost to violence, the prostitutes who disappeared for years unnoticed (except by their families) and the social fallout of a government policy that once sought to scatter First Nation siblings from each other and their culture.

"What I sense from Rosalee is that she was learning about Dawn, as I was," Welch said. "She's gotten behind the film in a big way. I get the sense that it's her chance to explore how she feels about Dawn and about her family."

Walton doesn't argue the point. Take their lives, distill the sisters' time in the same room together, and it's less than a year. But some bonds are not only formed on contact, she said.

It's strange, she said, looking around at the house, how the same fragmented DNA that connects Dawn to that farm also connects her to her sister.

It's strange, Walton said, how strong an invisible relationship can be.


To learn more about the documentary, visit

P-I reporter Mike Lewis can be reached at 206-448-8140 or

© 1998-2007 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Missing People Net

Sunday, March 11

Unit attempts to put a human face on street prostitutes in T.O.

Toronto Sun
March 11, 2007

During the final months of 2006, the Toronto Police sex-crime squad added a special victims' unit as a pilot project and, in an informal survey of the sex-trade strolls in four downtown police divisions, it identified and catalogued 572 street prostitutes -- the ones who congregate at the bottom rung of the sex-trade ladder, and who will sell whatever they can sell to feed their addictions, primarily their need for crack cocaine.

In the sex-for-sale business, they are the flotsam.

They get used. They get abused, and they get tossed away.

And few are given a second thought.

They are, after all, nothing but crack whores in the public's mind's eye.

They are not human beings.

And this, of course, is not the case.


In mid-January of this year, what was once a pilot project became a full-time unit, a special victims' unit aimed at convincing the street prostitutes and even the homeless -- the young, and the not-so-young -- that the police are not their enemy and that, if they are abused or threatened, or treated inhumanely, there is now a tipline to call, even if that call is placed anonymously.

Det. Wendy Leaver has been a member of the sex-crime unit for almost 10 years and now, with Det. George Schuurman, Det. Jackie O'Keefe, and Det. Ed Dizon, there is now a four-person squad dedicated to breaking down the barrier of cultural mistrust between the cops and the sex-trade workers whose downmarket office is usually a street corner.

"I was giving a presentation at john school recently," Leaver said. "And I asked the men who were there because they had been arrested, what they thought of street prostitutes.

"And it was always the same. They're sluts. They're this, or they're that."

"But never were they given a human dimension."

A few years ago, long before anyone had ever heard of a British Columbia pig farmer named Robert Pickton, the Toronto Police sex-crime unit initiated the "Bad Date" telephone line, and began handing out cards to street workers with information on how to phone in -- even anonymously -- information which could stop an abusive client from abusing again.

It was a slow go.

Today, however, the newly-formed special victims unit has the public support of many of the agencies where such unfortunates turn when they run out of room to run -- like Streetlight, Street Health, the Yonge Street Mission, the Evergreen Youth Centre, Sanctuary Ministries, and the Sex Professionals of Canada organization that even maintains its own web site highlighting bad-client scenarios, complete with identifications of the offender when identifications appear to be solid.

With the endorsement of the aforementioned groups for a police initiative comes something that is vital.

And that something is street cred.


"Our goal is to build bridges," said Det. Jackie O'Keefe. "We are not here to be adversarial or judgmental.

"We are here to make the streets safer -- and that means safer for everyone."

Example of an all-too-typical scenario:

"Pro (professional sex worker) got into white 4-door car. Bad Date drove pro to secluded location and, while she was doing oral, the bad date said he liked rough sex. He choked pro till she blacked out briefly and smashed her head against door a few times. Pulled a pole out of back seat and said he was going to use it ... on her since she was a 'f------ whore.' Pro kicked windows out of car and managed to escape. Another sex worker claims to have been assaulted by the same man.

"Description: Male, white, approximately 60 years old, name may be Serge. Grey hair, says he runs a limo service.

"Vehicle description: White 4-door car newer model (could be a Grand Prix), flag behind driver's seat next to clothes hook (could be a Polish flag), had a beer keg on the seat and offered pro a drink, licence plate numbers include 453."

Location: Parkdale around Queen and Jameson Sts."

According to Det. Wendy Leaver, anonymous callers play a vital role in the building of an intelligence file on suspected abusers.

"With anonymous callers, we may not have a victim, at least one that has a name. And we may not have a suspect, at least one that has a name. But you build up information as you go," she said.

"And, sooner or later, the pieces will fit."


Over time, Leaver and her newly-minted special victims unit would dearly like to see the day when their unit is so trusted that their growing intelligence book contains photographs of the street workers -- all voluntarily given.

"I never want to see a (Robert) Pickton in this city," she said. "What I want to see is the day that we get a call and a sex-trade workers says to us, 'I haven't seen so-and-so in three weeks,' and we actually know who that so-and-so is.

"It's all about knowing who's out there," Leaver added.

"And actually caring."

(The Toronto Police Sex Crimes Tipline is 416-808-0000. Collect calls are accepted.)
Toronto Sun: