Sunday, September 30

Room Full of Missing Women. Prince George art show featuring 50 women who have disappeared

September 30, 2007

Danielle Boudreau was still reeling, two days later.

The Edmonton woman was in Prince George for Thursday’s opening of Room Full of Missing Women, an ambitious show at the Two Rivers Art Gallery.

“It was awesome,” she finally said, after several moments of stammering in search of words. “That doesn’t even capture it. I can’t find an appropriate way to describe it.”

The show, by B.C. artist and social activist Betty Kovacic, depicts 50 women who disappeared off the streets of Vancouver’s gritty Downtown Eastside. One of them was Edmonton’s Georgina Papin, whose accused killer, Robert Pickton, is on trial for first-degree murder for the deaths of six women.

He will be tried for the deaths of 20 more women at a later date.

Kovacic painted each woman’s portrait, gleaned from photos in the media and obtained from some individuals’ families. A local musician also wrote a brief instrumental piece to go along with each of the portraits.

The show also included dozens of mannequins wrapped in black shrouds, which also had written on them the hopes and dreams of local women.

The effect, said Boudreau, was “eerie, but it also gave each of these women a voice of sorts.

They were no longer just nameless victims. It was awesome.”

The sheer number of portraits, which were roughly life-size, had an overwhelming effect, Boudreau added.

Kovacic said she was overwhelmed by the public response. The opening night attracted upwards of 450 people from all segments of the community and media.

“It was very, very good,” she told Sun Media. “ I was amazed. I’m not used to this kind of attention.”

Boudreau, who for the last two years has organized a Valentine’s Day march through the inner city in honour of women who’ve gone missing from our city’s streets, was one of several Edmonton women invited to the opening in Prince George.

So was Kathy King, acting head of the Prostitution Action and Awareness Foundation of Edmonton (PAAFE), which helps local women get out of the sex trade.

They’re both on a committee working to bring Kovacic’s show to Edmonton in 2008.

Kovacic said she began the project in 2002, shortly after the horror began unfolding on Pickton’s Port Coquitlam, B.C. pig farm. Police were unearthing the remains of dozens of women, who had led troubled lives and were all connected to the Downtown Eastside. Many had drug problems or were in some way involved in prostitution.

But the issue of exploited and missing women, Kovacic said, “transcends the east side of Vancouver. It’s an issue right across Canada.”

Since the early 1980s, 28 women living high-risk lifestyles have been slain in the Edmonton area, according to PAAFE.

Copyright © 2007, Canoe Inc. All rights reserved.

A Roomful of Missing Women
Portraits inspired pain
Betty Kovacic and A Roomful of Missing Women

Captain Trevor Greene

Injured soldier 'determined' to walk
Remarkably, Capt. Trevor Greene says he'd return to Afghanistan

Lena Sin
The Province

Sunday, September 30, 2007

For the captain these days, progress is measured in inches.

The miniscule flutter in Capt. Trevor Greene's legs last week may seem infinitesimal, but it's the first sign that the B.C. soldier and former journalist, author and entrepreneur may one day walk again.

"He is so determined," says Debbie Lepore, Greene's fiancée. "His main goal is walking. We're a long, long, long way off from that, but that's his main goal."

It's been a year and a half since an Afghan teen buried an axe deep into Greene's head, leaving him immobile and unable to speak.

Greene was at a meeting with village elders in March 2006 when he took off his helmet and laid down his weapon out of respect. Moments later, a crazed teen leaped out of the crowd and attacked Greene. His fellow soldiers shot the attacker dead.

The brutal blow left Greene with a brain injury that affected his motor skills, but not his cognitive capacity. And it is sheer mental determination that is seeing him through his second mission of recovery.

Last week, friends and family in Vancouver showed their own support by holding a fundraiser to help Greene's family cope with expenses not covered by the military.

Remarkably, in spite of the immobility and the minute-by-minute struggles of daily life, Greene wants Canadians to know that he'd go back in a heartbeat.

"We cannot give in to terrorists," Greene says in a barely audible whisper over the phone from Alberta.

He staunchly believes that success is possible in Afghanistan, that Canada needs to stay the course, but adds that "it's time for another NATO country to step up and take the lead."

As he spoke, Greene was sitting in his sun-drenched room in Ponoka, Alta., with a Superman blanket pulled over his bed -- a gift from Lepore.

In July, the couple and their two-year-old daughter, Grace, left Vancouver for the small town 95 kilometres south of Edmonton so that Greene could receive the best brain-injury care in the country.

For the military reservist who's had a varied career as a journalist, business consultant and author of three books, the victories do not come easily.

But already, there's a number to count: Last October, Greene whispered his first words after months of silence. Today, that voice resembles his pre-injury self at least 20 per cent of the time. Then in December, Greene's feeding tube was taken out and as of March he no longer needed a tracheotomy tube.

There is promising movement again in his left arm and as of last week some very small but definite movement in his legs and torso muscles.

"It's so slow. But that's OK, it's progress, right?" says Lepore. "And all these little things are going to be adding up. He's definitely improved since he's been here at the centre.

"It's exciting to see all these incremental improvements because they will add up to maybe him sitting up on his own or him feeding himself on his own."

At the Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury, Greene's week is packed with therapy as he tries to rewire his brain.

"Everything for him is just repetition and getting better at it and for his brain to reconnect all the things he used to do," says Lepore.

While the military is covering medical costs, friends and family can't help but worry about the couple's financial future.

In order to be by her fiancée's side, Lepore had to quit her part-time accounting job in Vancouver. There is no telling when or if Greene, 42, will achieve his goal of walking again or how long the family will need to stay in Alberta.

Last Wednesday, Greene's Vancouver friend and fellow rugby player Rob Gibbs held a fundraiser at which 200 people turned out and made donations of about $16,000.

"We're just trying to alleviate the pressure," said Gibbs.

Greene and Lepore are thankful for the support and say their first purchase will be a computer so that Greene can practice using a mouse and keyboard as he gains more mobility in his hands.

Gibbs admits it was difficult seeing Greene for the first time in hospital last year.

The man he knew as a humanitarian, who worked as a reporter in Japan for seven years while authoring a book on the homeless -- and who followed that up with a book on Vancouver's missing women in the Downtown Eastside -- was confined to a bed 24 hours a day.

"If he could stand up and walk out of that hospital, the first thing he'd do is put on his army gear and head back to Afghanistan," said Gibbs. "He's just a humanitarian. It's always about somebody else. He's always trying to help somebody else."

In keeping with Greene's social activism, his role in Afghanistan was that of co-operation officer, in which he met with village elders to hear about their problems.

Even today, Greene remains modest.

"I'm just a soldier. I'm not a hero," he says. "The heroes are being scraped off the battlefields."
n Donations to the Trevor Greene trust fund can be made to CIBC account No. 39-31137, bank No. 010 and transit No. 00500.

© The Vancouver Province 2007

Captain Trevor Greene
Author of Closing Bigger & 'The Lost Girls of Vancouver's Low Track

Friday, September 28

Missing women exhibit opens

Friday, 28 September 2007
Citizen Staff
Prince George Citizen

Sherry Lynn Rail. Last seen: November, 1983.

Sarah Jean de Vries. Last seen: April, 1998.

These are but two of the 50 women depicted by Prince George artist Betty Kovacic, whose stunning exhibit, A Roomful of Missing Women, opened Thursday at the Two Rivers Art Gallery. Each portrait shows a woman who disappeared or was murdered at Vancouver's downtown eastside. Most were drug addicts and/or sex trade workers.

The impact of the exhibit - heightened by 50 shrouded figures, each bearing a black sash expressing childhood dreams - was not lost on the hundreds of viewers who turned out to the opening.

"I think what she's doing is great," Brenda Hawke said. "It brings them back to life somehow. It must have been heart-wrenching for her to do. It's beautifully done and moving, but it's also sad."

Danielle Boudreau of Edmonton, who co-ordinates a memorial march for missing and murdered women that coincides with a similar event on Valentine's Day in Vancouver, made the trip west for Thursday's opening.

"I started it up three years ago because Edmonton suffers the same plight as Vancouver," Boudreau said. "Two of the women that were murdered out there (Vancouver) were friends of mine. Georgina Papin is actually my friend's sister. Two of my friends were up here for the (Robert) Pickton trials. She was actually murdered by Pickton."

Boudreau, in fact, has an even closer personal connection: her youngest sister was stabbed to death two weeks after the first Valentine's Day march in Edmonton.

"Women are dying out there. Bottom line," Boudreau said. "We have so many women that were killed in Edmonton, and so many women who are still missing. It's amazing. We're both suffering here with the same thing going on. Two provinces, and we need to band together to stop it.
That's how I feel.

"We need to realize these women are sisters, mothers, daughters, cousins, aunties, friends. It's got to stop."

A Roomful of Missing Women, which includes short musical vignettes and a series of audio segments, runs until Nov. 25. The exhibit will include several events, beginning with an Oct. 11 panel discussion moderated by Kovacic.

"To me, it (exhibit) feels like I did something in my lifetime I was supposed to do," Kovacic, who started the collaborative project in 2002, said in an address to the crowd.
A Roomful of Missing Women
Portraits inspired pain
Betty Kovacic and A Roomful of Missing Women

Wednesday, September 26

A voice for missing women

By Monisha Martins

Staff Reporter
Maple Ridge News

Sep 26 2007

Barely blinking her almond-shaped eyes, Sandra Gagnon reveals how time has whittled down her family.

Of 10 siblings who grew up in the Nimpkish First Nation near the misty coves of Alert Bay, just three are left.

The one she misses most, her sister Janet Henry, hasn't been seen in 10 years.

One of 62 women missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, Henry's face still remains on a "Missing Women" poster.

Money in her bank account hasn't been withdrawn since June 1997.

"Sometimes I think they'll never find her. I just hope and pray one day we will have answers."
At 58, Gagnon is ready for a new start.

Losing her parents, her son and four sisters over the past decade, and her brother Lance just last year, have taken their toll.

There were times when she didn't want to live anymore.

A deep dimple dots Gagnon's left cheek when she smiles.

Her long, once long and pin-straight, is cut shorter now, framing her high cheeks in a pretty bob.
She says she's taken time to heal and sought help.

"I have positive things in my life," she says.

In a cozy apartment in downtown Maple Ridge, Gagnon points to a stand filled with photographs.

A chubby face surrounded by a feathered head-dress smiles through the frame.

Gagnon says she lives for the happy little boy - Damian, her nine-year-old grandson who also has a deep dimple on the side of his cheek.

"It has taken a long time to be where I'm at. No one is going to pull me down again."

Gagnon will share Janet's story at a Sisters in Spirit vigil on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Oct. 4.
Launched by the Native Women’s Association of Canada, the second annual vigil focuses attention on alarmingly high rates of violence against Aboriginal women in Canada.

The association believes an estimated 500 women from First Nations across the country have disappeared.

"No one pays attention to it," says Gagnon.

She hopes her story will help families whose sisters or daughters are missing. She says she wants to be their voice.

"I am more at peace with my life," Gagnon says.

"I have a purpose."

A Sisters in Spirit vigil will also be held in Vancouver for more information visit

Copyright © 2007 Maple Ridge NewsA Division of Black Press Group Ltd.
Sister still searching

Vigils mark loss of native women

September 25, 2007

A pair of vigils will be held over the next 10 days to remember the women who‘ve mysteriously gone missing or been murdered.

“The purpose is to raise awareness of violence against women, and just how they‘ve been victimized,” said Ann McGuire, the sister of a Thunder Bay woman whose death remains unsolved.

“A lot of these women have families they leave behind, and (their deaths) hurt their kids.”

The third annual Full Moon Memory Walk will be held today on Thunder Bay‘s south side. Beginning at 7 p.m. at the corner of Victoria Avenue and Simpson Street, a procession will head over the Pacific Avenue bridge to the Neebing-McIntyre floodway.

A feast will follow at the Polish Legion hall on Simpson Street, which includes several speakers. One of them is Sharon Johnson, whose 18-year-old sister, Sandra, was killed in 1992.

Along with honouring aboriginal and Metis women who‘ve gone missing or been murdered, the event is also an opportunity for family, friends and the community to heal, Johnson said.

The event is sponsored by the Ontario Native Women‘s Association (ONWA), Beendigen and the NAN United Sisters of Ogden Simpson.

A similar event will take place Oct. 4 at Paterson Park, at the corner of May and Miles streets.

The ONWA is hosting the local Sisters in Spirit Vigil, part of a nation-wide effort to support families who‘ve lost a sister, daughter, mother or grandmother to violence.

McGuire‘s sister, Jamie, died in 1994 during a visit to Winnipeg. Her body was found on the outskirts of the Manitoba capital, near a Hutterite farm. She died of blunt force trauma to the back of the head.

No one has ever been charged in her death.

Jamie McGuire, 20, left behind two children. Her daughter, now 15, is being raised by Ann McGuire. She says she continues to feel the pain of her sister‘s death and frustration that no one‘s been held to account.

“With Jamie‘s case it‘s been 13 years and still we have no answers,” Ann McGuire said.

Copyright © Wednesday, September 26, 2007 All material contained herein is copyrighted by
The Chronicle Journal, a division of Continental Newspapers Canada Ltd.
All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, September 25

Vigil at CRAB PARK

Nationwide Day to Honor Women from Vancouver Downtown East Side to Highway of Tears. All proceeds will go to the Highway of Tears investigation currently underway.
October 4, 2007 Vigil at CRAB PARK 101 E. WATERFRONT ROAD

Slide Show For Highway of Tears Benefit

Go to for complete details

Tony Romeyn

I Am Missing- Missing Persons
Missing Loved Ones
Victim Resource Site
Keeping Families Together
Stop Child AbuseBecause He Cares.......

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Monday, September 24

Mixed reaction to probe


September 24, 2007

A national probe on how best to cope with serial killers has met with applause and skepticism in Winnipeg.

Raven ThunderSky, chair of Sisters in Spirit's Winnipeg chapter, said the probe is a welcome step forward.

"If the government is making this move at least we know somebody's listening," said ThunderSky, who recently called for action on the murders and disappearances of Manitoba women at a Southern Chiefs Organization press conference.

"If people see there is something being done, it sends a strong message."

ThunderSky feels growing public concern over recent deaths in Winnipeg, including the slaying of 17-year-old Fonessa Bruyere have helped "light a fire" that led governments to act.

Winnipeg police have stressed there is no evidence a serial killer is responsible for Bruyere's murder or others.


The murders of at least 19 Winnipeg sex-trade workers killed in the last 25 years remain unsolved. ThunderSky said her local agency is still planning a reward program for information leading to the conclusion of these cases and a project to fund self-defence classes for young aboriginal women in Winnipeg's inner city.

"We've been silent for too long and as a result we continue to lose our young women to violence," she said.

But Roz Prober, president of the Winnipeg chapter of Beyond Borders, stressed the report could be more effective if it did not focus on serial killers but on the murder of any woman involved -- or child exploited -- in the sex trade.

"It's not necessarily a focus on serial killers, but it's a much broader issue of how to address these murders that go unsolved year after year that aren't necessarily (committed by) serial killers," she said.

Prober said resources would be better spent on drafting new laws and establishing longer sentences for those person convicted of violent sex crimes and those known to target sex-trade workers.

"Without serious legal reform, you are really going backwards," said Prober.
A spokesman for Dave Chomiak, Manitoba's justice minister, said he was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Copyright © 2007, Canoe Inc. All rights reserved.
Justice officials target serial killers, critics urge Ottawa to do more
Murder victim ‘sweet, loving girl,’ says family

Missing women exhibit to open

Monday, 24 September 2007
FRANK PEEBLES Citizen staff

Their lives have been lost but the spirits of 50 women were found at the tip of Betty Kovacic's paintbrush and they can be visited at the Two Rivers Art Gallery.

Room Full of Missing Women is perhaps the most emotionally ambitious project the TRAG has ever been involved with, said curator George Harris. As Kovacic is from Prince George, as are her collaborators on this facility-sized project, TRAG staff have been following and participating in its development for years.

Seeing the pieces coming out of crates - 50 portraits, each one a missing woman from Vancouver's downtown eastside - somehow still caught them off guard. Indeed even the discussions of the artwork with The Citizen caused tears to well up and voices to crack in all those present.

"My own response to this artwork has been difficult to deal with," Harris said. "There are just so many missing women, you know. This isn't about 50 portraits, this is about 50 people we can't find, or we found them because they were dead. This is a shocking, appalling thing. An immense number of lives were lost, and that we could let that happen is what makes it so hard to deal with as a curator."

One of them even grew up in Harris's home town. He wonders if he or his sister might have known her as children.

"It was horrifying and affected me deeply that even one woman had to be so awfully treated," said Kovacic. "As a society we failed these people, though they may have had their own personal failings. I hope this exhibition gives people an opportunity to consider our clear failings as a society so maybe we won't abandon the next woman who comes along in need of help."

Kovacic, one of B.C.'s leading social activist visual artists, spent the past six years studying and painting the lives of these infamously missing women. They came from all over British Columbia and elsewhere. Many were from northern B.C. and many have family in Prince George. At least two family members of the portrayed victims will be at the opening reception Thursday night.

They will witness much more than a mere series of pictures. Portraits are as partial an artistic rendering as faces are a partial aspect of a human. To deepen the soul of the exhibition, Kovacic enlisted the help of composer Broek Bosma who wrote and performed 50 slices of music, one for each woman depicted. He also wrote a full orchestration that was performed by the Prince George Symphony Orchestra as an overarching musical theme. Listeners can hear each piece by using cutting edge, hand-held digital listening equipment available in the gallery.

Also included is poetry and prose written or overseen by former UNBC Vice President and noted women's advocate Deborah Poff.

Still another element is a chilling sexually tinged specter that hangs over the portraits. It is a feature best seen without prior commentary.

"I am somewhat nervous," Kovacic confides, in spite of her many exhibition openings in the past and the years of preparation on this project. "This gallery is such a beautiful space, it is going to be exciting to see it all put into place. In my head I see it and understand it but to have it physically in place still poses some mystery for me. I don't know what it will be like."

Harris and Kovacic needed a lot of money to even finish the paintings, let alone mount it into the TRAG space in its full array. While fundraising is usually the most daunting part of any exhibition, the financial and in-kind supporters lined up to help. The usual ration of 20 per cent support to 80 per cent rejection was completely flipped, they said.

To find A Room Full of Missing Women, come to the opening celebration at the TRAG at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, free of charge (it is ongoing until Nov. 27). Kovacic and others involved in the exhibition will personally discuss the art and its arrangement, and the people whose faces look out from frames on a society who didn't get to meet them in person.


A Roomful of Missing Women
Highway of Tears

Sunday, September 23

Justice officials target serial killers, critics urge Ottawa to do more

The Canadian Press

Sept 23, 2007

OTTAWA - Justice officials across Canada are quietly crafting strategies to protect society's most vulnerable women from serial killers.

The national working group was struck by federal and provincial deputy ministers of justice to study "the effective identification, investigation and prosecution of cases involving serial killers who target persons living a high risk lifestyle," say documents released under the Access to Information Act.

That lifestyle would include but is not limited to "those working in the sex trade," says a heavily censored update prepared for justice ministers.

The working group is comparing "best practices in detecting potential serial murderers, as well as strategies to protect potential victims."

It will report to deputy ministers early next year, said federal Justice Department spokesman Chris Girouard. Until then, discussions are confidential.

The group's findings are expected to guide the next steps through legislation and policies to keep women safe from serial predators. But critics say Ottawa should be doing much more to curb what they say is a full-blown crisis.

Young women, many of them aboriginal, continue to disappear and later turn up dead, their bodies often discovered in so-called "dumping grounds" on the edges of major cities.

Native groups in Manitoba called for a provincial task force earlier this month after the body of Fonessa Bruyere, 17, was found in a field in northwest Winnipeg. She was last seen Aug. 9 getting into a car in the city where she worked in the sex trade.

Her body was the third found in the same area in about six months, and she was the second victim to be identified as a prostitute.

Fonessa's aunt, Carla Bruyere, told a news conference about her family's treatment when it sought help.

"Police were notified but we were greeted with indignance and disrespect to the extent that her grandmother was refused an incident number after reporting her missing."

Winnipeg police said they investigated but described Bruyere as a chronic missing person. Spokesman Sgt. Kelly Dennison said murder cases involving sex-trade workers are notoriously challenging.

"Some of these people that lead this high risk lifestyle don't keep a nine-to-five (job)," he said.
"It's hard to determine their last known whereabouts."

The bodies of two other women were discovered in the same area of Winnipeg in 2002 and 1987. The cases of at least 19 Winnipeg sex-trade workers killed in the last 25 years, including Bruyere's, remain unsolved. Police say there isn't enough evidence to link the deaths to a potential serial killer.

Police in Vancouver and Edmonton have also grappled with unsolved killings involving dozens of women, many of them sex-trade workers, and have revamped their approaches to respond to stinging criticism.

Beverley Jacobs, president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, says more must be done.

She is now halfway through the five-year, $5-million federally funded Sisters in Spirit campaign. Its goals include building a national database and raising awareness about what she estimates are at least 500 cases of murdered or missing aboriginal women countrywide over the last 30 years.

A "huge gap" is the refusal of federal Public Safety officials to take part in the campaign, Jacobs says. The department oversees the RCMP, often the front-line responders for native communities.

Jacobs had hoped a departmental liaison would help build the kind of trust that's often lacking between police and aboriginal people, she said.

Native families are too often told that their missing loved one "probably just wants to go away for awhile," she said. "Or they're asked: 'Is she a prostitute? Maybe she doesn't want you to know what she's doing.' "

Or worse: "All of a sudden, it's turned around and (the families) are the ones being investigated."

Requests for comment from Public Safety were not answered last week. Spokesman Jean Tessier called Sunday night to say that his department is part of a Sisters in Spirit working group that's examining police training "to improve treatment of aboriginal girls and women.

"The government of Canada is committed to ensuring the safety of all Canadians."

Jacobs stressed that individual police forces and RCMP investigators have been helpful, and that a number of prevention programs are underway.

But there's a gaping void where federal oversight should be to shape national policing guidelines, says Craig Benjamin, a spokesman for Amnesty International.

He praised the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police for moving to help develop protocols for how missing women cases are handled.

But he's baffled by Ottawa's seeming reticence to push such efforts forward. Funding the Sisters in Spirit campaign is a good start, Benjamin said. "But the Native Women's Association are not the police. There are limits to their responsibilities and what they can do.

"There's really a complete failure of federal leadership. We are talking both about individual crimes and a broader social pattern that is a national issue, and is of crisis proportions. Why is there not a response that is of a national scale, that is proportionate to the threat to these women's lives?"

Benjamin blames a lack of public pressure.

"There are certainly people demanding change, but I don't think there are enough yet."

Copyright © 2007 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

The Canadian Press

Native Women's Association of Canada

Vancouver the proposed 'testing ground' for co-op brothel

Group says facility would keep sex workers safe

David Carrigg; With a file from Lena Sin
The Province

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Plans are afoot to open Canada's first co-operative brothel in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

"Vancouver is a testing ground for these sorts of things," said Susan Davis, spokeswoman for Prostitution Alternatives Counselling and Education.

Davis' group will join forces with other sex-workers organizations in B.C. and the Yukon in November to incorporate a group called the B.C. Coalition of Experiential Community.

That organization will then start work implementing several recommendations that came from a City of Vancouver funded project -- the Living in Community Report -- exploring the city's dangerous sex industry.

At least 60 sex workers have disappeared from city streets in the past 20 years and the violence is rampant against the many drug-addicted and mentally ill "survival" sex workers in the Downtown Eastside.

"Action 22 from the report calls for a safe place for sex workers to operate," Davis said.

Other actions call for social enterprises, like art collectives, to be formed to provide sex workers with positive outlets.

Davis said the newly formed organization would operate like a compassion club, in which marijuana is provided to sick people, with the Vancouver police tolerating the activity.

"It's not our intention to violate the law or put the police in a position where they have to arrest us," she said, adding the johns who use the sex workers would also need to be provided amnesty.

"We are treating this like a triage. We have to help those who are dying first." Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan said he is keeping an open mind about any initiative that makes the city safer, although this particular issue needs to be dealt with on the federal level.

Under current federal laws, it is illegal in Canada to operate a bawdy house or live off the avails of prostitution.

"I do understand the status quo is not acceptable, that we do need to change things to ensure all of our citizens can be safe," said Sullivan. "[But] I do believe their focus has to be on the federal level." Davis said that when she came to Vancouver in the early 1990s most Downtown Eastside hotels had rooms set aside where prostitutes could bring their customers at a cost of $20 an hour.

"The city threatened the hotel owners with living off the avails of prostitution and it has become more dangerous ever since," she said.

Davis said the co-operative brothel would keep sex-workers safe, decrease complaints from neighbours and give the workers access to drug treatment and other supports.

The co-operative brothel will likely be opened in the industrial area of the Downtown Eastside.

Tell us by e-mail at, or by fax at 604-605-2223. Please include your name and address.

© The Vancouver Province 2007

Saturday, September 22

Suspect in sex worker's killing facing other charges

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2007
CBC News

The man charged in the July killing of a Winnipeg sex worker also faces charges relating to sexual assaults on other women, police said Tuesday.

The 49-year-old was charged with second-degree murder on Monday in the death of Aynsley Aurora Kinch, a 35-year-old sex-trade worker and mother of three.

The suspect was considered a "person of interest" to police within three days of Kinch's death, police said Tuesday. Investigators believe the man met Kinch at a residence and that she left with him shortly before her death.

"They were recent acquaintances," said Winnipeg Police Const. Jacqueline Chaput. "He did not, for lack of a better word, pick her up on the street. They were at the same residence that evening and that was the nature of their relationship."

Kinch's body was found in a field in northwest Winnipeg on July 15.

The suspect was arrested on July 20 and has remained in custody since, police said. A warrant had been issued for his arrest in 1997 in connection with an assault on a man.

Chaput said it's believed the suspect had left the province for many years, which is why the decade-old warrant had not been served.

He is facing charges in connection with the assault of an 18-year-old sex worker on June 29 and the sexual assault of a 24-year-old woman between June 15 and July 6, police said.

Family has 'mixed feelings'

Kinch's father says her family is relieved there has been an arrest in connection with her death.
"[I'm] happy that they caught him, but there's so much mixed feelings involved here," John Fitch told CBC News.

"The details of the way she was murdered and everything comes out now, because the police couldn't tell us anything before that."

Fitch said the two investigators assigned to his daughter's case put a lot of their own time into the investigation.

"They told us from the start they'll find this guy, and they did," he said.

"They were wonderful, you know, I can't say enough about how hard they worked on this thing, and the results proved it."

Fitch said he is already bracing himself for the difficulty he expects to face as the case proceeds through the courts.

"I just hope it carries through now to the justice system … that's the part that worries me now," he said.

Drug 'epidemic' traps young women

Fitch said drug addiction played a major role in his daughter's death.

"This city is overrun with drugs, there's no escape. These girls get hooked both ways, they can't quit because they need the drugs, and the drugs are keeping them in the business," he said.

"It changes them into thieves, and crooks, and liars and everything, just to get drugs. And they [were] all decent people and good people.

"I never knew how bad it was until this happened and we started digging ourselves," he added.
"It's an epidemic."

Kinch's was the second of three prostitutes' bodies found in the northwest corner of the city in recent years, which led some in Winnipeg to suggest a serial killer might have been stalking prostitutes.

Police said Monday that the suspect charged in Kinch's death had been in custody since mid-July, and therefore could not be responsible for the most recent killing, that of 17-year-old Fonessa Bruyere, whose body was found at the end of August.

Investigators have long said the evidence collected in Bruyere's, Kinch's and the other cases did not lead them to believe the same person was responsible for the deaths.

The cases of at least 19 other Winnipeg sex-trade workers killed in the past 25 years, including Bruyere's, remain unsolved.

CBC News

Pair have reached Spirit River

By Arthur Williams
Free Press
Sept 21, 2007

Audrey and Kyla Auger have crossed a major milestone in their 760 km healing walk from Prince George to the Gift Lake Metis Settlement in Alberta.

The mother and daughter arrived in Spirit River, Alta. Wednesday evening, after travelling over 500 km from their starting point on Highway 16 East, near the Tabor Mountain turnoff.

They started their walk on Aug. 15, at the place where 14-year-old Aielah Saric-Auger’s body was found in February, 2006. Saric-Auger was Audrey’s daughter and Kyla’s little sister, and is the most recent young woman to go missing or be murdered along the ‘Highway of Tears.’

Their walk will end at Saric-Auger’s grave site, in Audrey’s home community.

“It’s been very draining – emotionally, physically and spiritually,” Audrey said. “I lean on my spirituality to get through. My main focus is finding myself out on the highway.”

Audrey said they hope to raise awareness about all 11 unsolved missing and murdered women along Highway 16 during their walk.

During their walk they travelled through Prince George, up Highway 97 to Dawson Creek, then on to Spirit River across the border.

Although the journey is two-thirds done and the most challenging terrain is behind them, Audrey said the hardest kilometres are still ahead of them.

“As we get closer to where my daughter is buried... every step is more difficult than when I first started,” she said.

Funding for the walk has been a challenge since the beginning, but has become worse across the border.

“Not many people are aware of the Highway of Tears in Alberta. The support died down as we came out of B.C.,” she said. “We’re on a really tight budget. [But] we’re hoping for the best.”

The Augers intended to start on Aug. 1, but were delayed by a lack of funding and support car drivers.

Throughout the walk they have camped and stayed at women’s shelters to keep costs down, she said.

Donations to the walk can be made though Communities Against the Sexual Exploitation of Youth (CASEY).

For more information, or to make a donation, contact Karen Clayton at 250-564-4422 or stop by the Central Interior Native Health Clinic at 1110 Fourth Ave., Prince George.

All donations not used during the walk will be put towards the hosting costs for a second Highway of Tears symposium.

Copyright © 2007 Prince George Free Press
A Division of
Black Press Group Ltd.

Thursday, September 13

Advocate proposes city brothel

FRANK PEEBLES Citizen staff
Prince George Citizen
September 13, 2007

Prince George needs to establish a modern brothel, according to a former Edmonton sex-trade worker and licensed madam, who is in Prince George today.

Carol-Lynn Strachan is in the city to support the work of the New Hope Society, but she is here in her third official capacity: social advocate.

Strachan is known around Edmonton's survival sex field as Cat and her escort agency Cats is known as much for its social aid as it is for its social engagements.

"Anyone who is against (a modern brothel) only wants to see the women hurt or murdered," Cat said. "They would rather order them out on the street where they get beaten and tortured and murdered and busted by the police, and none of that will stop prostitution or deter the girls, it only endangers them. The bottom line is the health and the safety of these mothers and daughters and sisters. It doesn't matter if you don't like it, don't believe in it, don't want it in your neighbourhood, it is happening and is going to happen. Period. Accept it. Now choose: do you want that girl dead or alive? Those are the choices, not are we going to end prostitution in our community or not? If you want them to live, not die, then build a safe place."

The New Hope Society will unveil the full report on their research project today. Cat intends to be there when it happens.

Cat is well aware of New Hope and has donated cell phones and other items to the fledgling Prince George agency.

Cat will bring her educated opinion on modern brothels when New Hope releases the final report of an in-depth research study on the Prince George survival sex trade.

Part of that report was highlighted in advance in Friday's Citizen.

"You now know that 74 per cent of bad dates are not reported, so are you asking why?" Cat said. "Why would you not report rape, or a beating, or a threat on your life? What would keep you from protecting yourself that way?"

The reality is, no matter what morale stance you take on the fact of prostitution, street workers are targeted for assault, abuse, torture and murder exponentially more than those who work for a licensed agency, Cat said, and she has done both in a decades-long career. She is now retired from that work.

"I sold myself for sex because I chose to," Cat said. "I did not choose to get beaten up or raped and anyone who did that to me should be charged for that and the law put to them. I did not break the law, they did. People need to come to terms with the fact that prostitution is not against the law. What's illegal is the public solicitation or living off the avails of prostitution."

Cat worked the streets of Edmonton for years, until 1996 when Edmonton's municipal government introduced a licensing system for escort agencies. Although their system was punitive in some ways, she said that provision for formal businesses was literally a lifesaver.

"It's called the death walk - it is 1,000 times more dangerous on the street," Cat said. "Girl's bodies are constantly being found dumped out in the fields near Sherwood Park, which we call the dumping ground now. They are trying to eradicate prostitution by getting girls killed one at a time, but it isn't working. In spite of the fear of death, there is never an end of girls doing the work. You're just having someone's daughter, someone's mother coming back from a night's work in a hockey bag."

Cat and her associates deliver sandwiches, water, shampoo, toothpaste, winter coats, condoms and other care items to those girls who are still stuck working the pavement. She said many of them have wept when the simple gifts were given. She wishes they had a place where they could ply their trade in an environment that also supplied some bodily security, basic health care attention, addictions counselling, and resources to exit the trade when they independently decided it was time to do that.

This is her hope for Prince George as well, especially in light of the new data collected by the New Hope Society.

©Copyright 2007 Prince George Citizen

Tuesday, September 11

Native police should hunt serial killer, says Nelson

Move over city cops
Native police should hunt serial killer, says Nelson

By ROSS ROMANIUK, Winnipeg Sun
September 12, 2007

A First Nation leader wants aboriginal police to take over a search for a possible serial killer of Winnipeg native women, charging aboriginals can't wait for city cops to "start caring about our people."

Roseau River Chief Terry Nelson said non-natives may see the move as "taking the law into our own hands," but insists Winnipeg police alone can't be tasked with investigating the slayings and disappearances of aboriginal women during the past several years.

"We could research more than what Winnipeg police can do," Nelson told Sun Media yesterday of his push to have at least one Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council police officer dedicated solely to probing the slayings of 17-year-old Fonessa Bruyere and other aboriginal women -- not only those who worked in Winnipeg's sex trade.

After making the suggestion yesterday in a letter to Grand Chief Morris Shannacappo of Manitoba's Southern Chiefs Organization, Nelson plans to press the issue at a Sept. 20 meeting of DOTC leaders.

In the letter, Nelson -- a controversial chief who frequently makes headlines for clashes with governments -- said a "serial killer" is preying on Winnipeg's native women. And it states aboriginal agencies must put together "a real effort to catch this bastard" soon.

"We need to do this ourselves," he wrote.

"The white man will cry about us taking the law into our own hands but it is obvious that we can't wait for them to start caring about our people."

Nelson's efforts come after Bruyere's body was found on the city's northwest outskirts a couple of weeks ago. City police say the girl was involved in the sex trade, making her the third Winnipeg prostitute to be slain this year.

Sex-trade workers have speculated a serial killer could be behind the slayings of Bruyere and several other women who have disappeared or been murdered over the years -- including at least three other prostitutes who had been dumped in the area of Ritchie Street and Mollard Road.

City police, however, say they have found no evidence to link those slayings. "There are certain similarities, but at this point the investigation is not pointing toward a serial killer," Const. Jacquie Chaput said.

"The investigations have to be complete and thorough before we can even consider that they may be linked."

Chaput added Winnipeg police are willing to talk to the DOTC about its officers becoming involved, though she stressed any investigations they carry out "should be done in conjunction with us."

Shannacappo could not be reached for comment.

A provincial government spokesman said Justice Minister Dave Chomiak will not comment particularly because Nelson's effort doesn't involve a request to the province.

At least 20 sex-trade workers have suffered violent deaths in or around Winnipeg since 1983. Charges have been laid in only two of them, while two appear accidental. These 16 remain unsolved:

Aug. 30 -- Decomposed body of Fonessa Lynne Bruyere, 17, found in a field near Ritchie Street and Mollard Road.

July 15 -- Aynsley Aurora Kinch, 35, discovered in a field near Murray Road and McPhillips Street -- not far from Bruyere's.

April 19 -- Body of Crystal Shannon Saunders, 24, found in a ditch near St. Ambrose just weeks after her release on prostitution charges.

May 9 -- Bloodied body of Tatia (Tess) Ulm, 39, discovered in a dumpster near Stella Avenue and Salter Street.

Nov. 3 -- Transgendered prostitute David Joseph Boulanger -- also known as Divas B -- found beaten to death in brush about eight kilometres east of Portage la Prairie.

Oct. 2 -- Nicole Hands, 32, dies at Health Sciences Centre after being found unconscious at her Mountain Avenue apartment.

Dec. 15 -- Therena Silva, 35, found frozen in a field at Templeton Avenue and Ritchie Street.

Aug. 15 -- Noreen Taylor, 32, died in hospital after falling out of a moving vehicle in Transcona.

Sept. 29 -- Tania Marsden, 18, found on banks of the Assiniboine River near the Perimeter Highway.

March 20 -- Badly beaten body of Evelyn Stewart, 25, found in a Point Douglas parking lot.

March 17 -- Ice-coated body of Jaime McGuire found in a ditch near St. Francois Xavier.

April 13 -- Susan Holens, 15, found in a ditch near Headingley.

May 23 -- Charlene Orshalak, 17, found in abandoned cemetery near Matlock.

Dec. 5 -- Snowmobiler finds Cheryl Duck, 15, frozen in Maples-area field.

Aug. 6 -- Constance Cameron's decomposed body found near Parker Avenue south of CNR line.

Aug. 15 -- Decayed body of Marie Edith Banks, 18, found in field south of Hydro building on Taylor Avenue.

Winnipeg Sun

Monday, September 10

Resurrect Bear Clan Patrol

Winnipeg Free Press
Mon Sep 10 2007


FONESSA Bruyere, 17, was murdered. Her body was dumped in a field on the outskirts of the city. Police said she was an exploited youth involved in the sex trade.
It's a loss that shouldn't go without action.

Aboriginal women representing four groups -- Mothers of Red Nations, Ka Ni Kanichihk, Southern Chiefs Organization and Sisters in Spirit -- took action last week. They publicly called on governments to create a Manitoba-based task force to deal specifically with murdered and missing women.

It's a reasonable demand governments would be wise to implement. Task forces in British Columbia and Alberta were formed in reaction to their province's increases in murdered women.
Another option that's been around for a few years is creating a red-light district for sex trade workers. A red-light district means an industry that's been around forever can be regulated.
Many believe women in the sex trade will then less likely become victims of violence.

Maybe it's time to put this idea into action; they have them in other countries. But the creation of a red-light district will fall by the wayside again unless there's enough societal and political will over here to push it into existence.

Then there's community action. Let's resurrect the Bear Clan Patrol.

The Bear Clan Patrol was a volunteer group that began the early '90s in Winnipeg's North End.
It was co-founded by two Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre workers -- Larry Morrissette and David Blacksmith.

The idea was to re-ignite part of a traditional clan system that kept social order among the Ojibway people and other nations. It was the Bear Clan people who were in charge of their communities' safety.

The modern day Bear Clan Patrol worked in the North End and Point Douglas. In it's heyday there were about 200 volunteers. 'Wolverine' was one of them.

"Keeping watch, that's what we were trying to bring back," said Wolverine. "Some had vehicles, some had bikes, some were on foot. We tried to keep the peace in the North end."

Volunteers patrolled the community on weekends -- from evening until dawn.

They attended to whatever came up, from house fires to break and enters, and fights.
Sometimes they caught car thieves and held them until police arrived. They tried not to step on any toes -- whether it was the cops or gangs.

Wolverine said back then all they had to worry about as far as weapons was the odd knife. The Bear Clan helped vulnerable people. They would pick up intoxicated people and take them home. They kept records of the make, colour, licence plate number and physical description of 'johns.'

The group had a strong female element. A board of women had to approve of male volunteers. As well, the women volunteers built relationships with "working girls." They kept track of them, and encouraged them to leave the sex trade.

The Bear Clan Patrol wasn't made up of strictly aboriginal people either.

"We were a mixed breed," said Wolverine. "Italian, Mexican, all kinds of people. It was a multicultural thing, where everybody came to help each other out."

Eventually the Bear Clan evolved into a security business called First Peoples' Security. With the volunteer aspect gone, the company went out of business.

Now in his 50s, I asked Wolverine if he was willing to help resurrect Bear Clan, or something like it. He agreed quickly.

The Bear Clan's been gone too long.

Our community needs to take a proactive role in keeping our people safe. The Bear Clan needs volunteers who live here, work here and people who care. We need to do this so kids like Fonessa don't go missing anymore.

If you'd like to volunteer send me an e-mail.

© 2007 Winnipeg Free Press. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, September 8

WEEKEND SPECIAL - Fear of death all in a night's work

WEEKEND SPECIAL - Fear of death all in a night's work; Reporters McIntyre, Giroday spend night in Winnipeg's "low-track"

Mike McIntyre and his colleague, Gabrielle Giroday, spent 12 hours in Winnipeg's "low-track" earlier this week speaking with women in the sex-trade about a spree of unsolved killings which have some believing a serial killer at work.

It's a comprehensive, behind-the-scenes look at what goes on when the sun goes down. Their stories include:

-"Fear of death all in a night's work" - Click HERE to read

-"Victim's friend chases clues to catch killer" - Click HERE to read

-"Dates pay the mortgage, independent call girl Maggie says" - Click HERE to read

-"Woman found way off street, mourns slaying of friend" - Click HERE to read

Mike has also written a personal blog on his experience, and invites you to weigh in with your thoughts on what could/should be done to address the controversial issues surrounding prostitution. Click HERE to read.

Mike will also have plenty more to say on these stories Sunday night during his national "Crime and Punishment" radio show, which is heard 7-9 p.m. across the Corus and Rawlco radio networks.

Mike on Crime

Friday, September 7

Murder victim 'sweet, loving girl,' says family

September 7, 2007


Warm, friendly and caring. That is how the family of Fonessa Lynn Bruyere wants the 17-year-old remembered.

"The family just wants her remembered as a sweet, loving girl who liked to have fun, and for her not to be remembered as a street worker," Fonessa's cousin Chris Bruyere said yesterday in an exclusive interview with Sun Media.

The teen disappeared from Winnipeg's core in early August and her body was discovered in a secluded area of the city near Ritchie Street and Mollard Road last week.

"She was so easy to get along with," Bruyere said, adding Fonessa was very close to her family, including two sisters and a brother.

"She never did anything to anybody. She just started hanging around with the wrong kind of people."

Although Fonessa was friends with women involved in the sex trade, Bruyere said people have jumped to the wrong conclusions about his cousin.

Bruyere emphasized the family has been devastated by the loss, especially the girl's elderly grandmother.

"She (Fonessa) always used to love going to her grandmother's house to visit," he said, noting the grandmother tried diligently to let people know about her missing granddaughter through the police and media, but got little or no response.

During a memorial service held Wednesday night in the place where his cousin was found, the grandmother came close to requiring medical attention after being overwhelmed by grief.

"She is in shock," he said.

However, he added being at that location provided some comfort for family members and gave a small amount of closure to the tragedy.

The family also wanted to thank the Southern Chiefs Organization and Thunderbird House for all the support they have given them in dealing with the tragedy, Bruyere said.
Winnipeg Sun

Wednesday, September 5

Winnipeg's murdered women deserve task force, say aboriginal groups

19 unsolved sex-trade killings on books, say police
September 5, 2007

Aboriginal groups in Manitoba are calling on the province to set up a task force to examine the cases of missing and murdered women in Manitoba.

Nahanni Fontaine, director of justice for the Southern Chiefs Organization, made the call at a press conference Wednesday, days after the body of Fonassa Bruyere, 17, was found in a field in northwest Winnipeg.

Bruyere was last seen on the morning of Aug. 9 getting into a car on Aikens Street near Selkirk Avenue, where she worked in the sex trade.

Members of Bruyere's family spoke briefly at the press conference to express disappointment in the police response when they reported Fonassa missing.

"Police were notified but we were greeted with indignance and disrespect to the extent that her grandmother was refused an incident number after reporting her missing," said Carla Bruyere, Fonassa's aunt.

The family took on the search themselves with the help of Child Find Manitoba and an aboriginal organization.

Aboriginal groups in Manitoba are calling on the province to set up a task force to examine the cases of missing and murdered women in Manitoba.

Nahanni Fontaine, director of justice for the Southern Chiefs Organization, made the call at a press conference Wednesday, days after the body of Fonassa Bruyere, 17, was found in a field in northwest Winnipeg.

he body of Fonassa Bruyere, 17, was found in a field in northwest Winnipeg on Aug. 30, three weeks after she was last seen getting into a car in the city's North End neighbourhood.(Child Find)

Bruyere was last seen on the morning of Aug. 9 getting into a car on Aikens Street near Selkirk Avenue, where she worked in the sex trade.

Members of Bruyere's family spoke briefly at the press conference to express disappointment in the police response when they reported Fonassa missing.

"Police were notified but we were greeted with indignance and disrespect to the extent that her grandmother was refused an incident number after reporting her missing," said Carla Bruyere, Fonassa's aunt.

The family took on the search themselves with the help of Child Find Manitoba and an
"We distributed more than 100 posters to try to locate her," she said, breaking down in tears.
"We also made attempts to contact the press to get her picture out there as a missing child, but there was no interest at the time."

'Find our missing youth'

Fontaine said Bruyere's story is not new; she said she knew of dozens of cases of missing or killed aboriginal women in the past two decades that had not been solved.

She called on the Winnipeg police and Manitoba government to establish a special task force to investigate missing and murdered sex trade workers, similar to task forces in Edmonton and Vancouver.

"You didn't do it in B.C, [and] you had 60 missing women by the time they got their stuff together. Are we going to wait until 60 women go missing?" she said.

Fontaine's call was supported by two other aboriginal organizations, the Mothers of Red Nations and Sisters in Spirit's Winnipeg chapter.

Fontaine also wants the city to beef up its missing persons unit, saying the four people who are assigned to the 60 to 150 cases of missing people each year aren't enough.

"I think that they need to pour more resources into that unit and maybe perhaps take it away from some of the other programming that they've got, [like] Operation Clean Sweep, where you're just putting all of our people in jail," Fontaine said, referring to a police program targeting street crime in inner-city neighbourhoods.

"Apply some real resources and find our missing youth and if you can't find our missing youth, find the people that are stealing them. Find the people that are murdering them. Find the people that are raping and mutilating them."

19 unsolved sex-trade killings, say police

Winnipeg police say they did start an investigation when Bruyere disappeared, but they described her as a chronic missing person.

Dennison confirmed Wednesday that Winnipeg Police had 19 unsolved cases involving suspected sex-trade workers — 17 women and two transgendered men — who had been victims of homicides on the books over the past 25 years.

The force is already doing many of the same things other special task forces are doing, Dennison said, they just don't have a special name for their efforts.

"We're going to collect all evidence possible and go where that evidence leads us," he said.

"At this point in time, as I had said yesterday, the evidence that has been collected recently and in the past doesn't lead investigators to believe that these homicides were committed by one specific individual."

Police spokesman Sgt. Kelly Dennison said Tuesday that it can be a challenge for police to investigate cases involving sex-trade workers, noting they don't live a "nine-to-five lifestyle" and sometimes don't contact family and friends for long periods of time.
Victims linked by background, area where their bodies were found

THE bodies of each of these victims were found in northwest Winnipeg and in areas north and west of the city. Only the geographic similarities and the victims' backgrounds link these cases. Police say they have no evidence other than those similarities to suggest any of the slayings were committed by the same person:

* Cheryl Duck, December 1987: Duck, 15, was found face-down in a barren field close to Ritchie Street, near the outskirts of the city. She had been assaulted and left to freeze to death. There was some speculation that she worked as a prostitute, but this was never confirmed by police.

* Jamie McGuire, March 1994: The woman's frozen body was found in a drainage ditch west of St. Francois Xavier. It's not known if she was a sex-trade worker.

* Simon Bloomfield, July 2002: The cross-dressing sex-trade worker died of massive injuries after he was hit by a car on Highway 8. Police do not know how he got there.

* Therena Silva, 35, December 2002: Silva's skeletal remains were found near Templeton Avenue and Ritchie Street. Police believe her body had been there for several months.

*Moira Erb, September 2003: Erb was last seen alive by her family in the city in August. Her decomposed body was found between a set of railway tracks in the northwest corner of the city off Inkster. It's believed she was hit by a train, but police do not know how she got to that area.

* Divas Boulanger, 28, November 2004: Boulanger, a transgendered street prostitute, was found dead in the bushes at a rest stop east of Portage la Prairie. It's believed he was picked up near Martha Street and Higgins Avenue almost a year earlier.

* Crystal Shannon Saunders, 24, April 2007: Saunders' body was found in a ditch north of St. Ambroise near Lake Manitoba.

* Aynsley Aurora Kinch, 36, July 2007: Kinch's body was found in a field off Murray Avenue about one kilometre west of McPhillips Street.

* Fonessa Lynn Bruyere, 17, August 2007: Bruyere is found in a field at Mollard Road and Ritchie Street. She had been missing for almost a month.
Winnipeg Free Press

Tuesday, September 4

Ex-cop says Winnipeg may have a serial killer

Dr. Kim Rossmo

Bruce Owen
Winnipeg Free Press
Tuesday, September 04, 2007

WINNIPEG -- A former police officer who once warned a serial killer was at work in the Vancouver area -- but was ignored -- says the way the body of teen sex-trade worker Fonessa Lynn Bruyere was found dumped on Winnipeg's outskirts points to a possible serial killer at work.

Kim Rossmo, a former officer in the Vancouver Police Department and now an authority on "geographic profiling" at Texas State University, said the spot Bruyere was found may be a "cluster dump" for a serial killer.

"The odds of a different offender picking the same location is highly unlikely," Rossmo said.

The body of Bruyere, 17, was found last week in a field in northwest Winnipeg. Police spokesman Sgt. Kelly Dennison confirmed Bruyere was a street prostitute who was last seen by another prostitute getting into a vehicle early Aug. 9.

The bodies of two other women involved in the city's sex trade have also been dumped in the same area as Bruyere -- the woman were found within metres of one another, five years apart.

Winnipeg police said they are aware of the geographic similarities. But Insp. Tom Legge said there is no evidence the same killer is responsible for the deaths, nor that a serial killer is stalking Winnipeg's sex trade workers.

Nine people connected to the city's city trade have been found dead in the past 20 years in an area north and west of Winnipeg, between the city and Portage La Prairie.

Police have ruled two of the deaths as accidental, but cannot explain how the victims ended up in harm's way; one was hit by a train and the other a car.

What has raised the spectre of a serial killer in some minds is that Bruyere and two other known prostitutes were found dead in a small area in northwest Winnipeg. The body of Aynsley Kinch was found in July in a field just a short distance east of where Bruyere was found, which was within metres of where the remains of Therena Silva were found almost five years earlier.

Legge said women involved in the city's sex trade are extremely vulnerable, as they are addicted to drugs. Many prefer to sell sex close to a drug supplier, but will agree to go to remote locations unknown to them in exchange for money.

"They'll put themselves at a great deal of risk to get that $20," Legge said.

Police have also pinpointed how Bruyere died, but will not release that information as it is something only the killer or killers know.

Rossmo said if police get enough evidence to point towards a single killer, they will have to issue a public warning, even if it jeopardizes their investigation by releasing too much information.

"Ultimately, police are responsible for public safety," he said.

Dr. Kim Rossmo - Texas State University

Two former police officers join call for investigation

Monday, September 3

Building a brothel

Jody Paterson
The Victoria Times-Colonist

Monday, September 03, 2007

I've been trying to pin down the moment when I got so caught up in the issues of the sex trade.

The kick in the butt that got me moving was an interview 10 years ago with former sex worker Cherry Kingsley. She blew me away with stories from her tough, sad life.

But even in my fledgling newspaper days I was prowling the streets of Kamloops trying to find sex workers to talk to. So maybe it's just always been my particular fascination.

In those days, I was adamantly against the sex trade, and for all the reasons you hear in any discussion of it -- exploitation, victimization, terrible violence, suffering.

A lifetime of movies, news stories and documentaries about desperate, drugged-out women eking out a mean living on the streets had left their mark on me. I'd heard countless stories from women whose abusive childhoods had primed them to fall into the trade as adolescents, and assumed that all sex workers were victims in need of rescue.

But my views changed over my three years heading up Victoria's Prostitutes Empowerment Education and Resource Society (PEERS).

Given the rare opportunity to learn about the industry directly from women in the trade, I came to see that our need to take a moral position against prostitution is in fact a major reason for why aspects of the trade are so dangerous and exploitive.

And now I find myself launching into the planning of a co-op brothel. Who'd have thought?
I'm working on the social enterprise with another former director of PEERS, Lauren Casey. She and I made it relatively unscathed through our intense 15 minutes of fame this week after news broke of our plans.

I think the B.C. media were all a little disappointed to discover there's nothing concrete to talk about yet, other than that the time has come. But planning for any successful business -- let alone one centred on the rather incendiary proposition that there are happy, healthy, adult sex workers out there -- simply has to proceed at a slow and painstaking pace.

What's the dream? A terrific work place for sex workers who are in the industry by choice, in which all profits beyond the cost of running the business are mandated to go to social causes.

We want the money to help fund the work PEERS does supporting disadvantaged sex workers wanting to leave the street trade. Street prostitution makes up just 10 to 20 per cent of the total trade, but that group of people are in desperate need of housing, drug detox and treatment, mental-health support, and any number of other services.

What the workplace will look like will depend on what we hear from sex workers when we get to that stage of the plan, but we've got a few ideas we'd like to test.

Like salaries instead of 100-per-cent commission work. Vacation pay. Medical leave.
Employment Insurance benefits. Workers' compensation coverage. Fair shifts, and regular time off.

Some have condemned our plan as a dangerous "normalization" of prostitution. I understand that concern. But sex is a legal commodity in Canada -- and like it or not, the industry is thriving. We've done nothing to curb the demand that fuels the sex trade, and much to make it even more secretive, stigmatized and dangerous for the tens of thousands of Canadians who work in it. It's the height of hypocrisy that we buy sex with alacrity but take no responsibility for ensuring workers are fairly paid and well-treated.

Hundreds of functioning brothels are operating discreetly across the country. Some already provide a safe, fair work environment. But it's far from a given. Our need to deny the existence of the sex trade pushes workers into a twilight zone of wink-wink, nudge-nudge pretence that none of it is happening.

As for the money Lauren and I hope to make from our brothel project, even my younger, more black-and-white self couldn't have quibbled with the concept of using profits from the customers of the sex trade to fund programs and services for disadvantaged workers wanting to change their lives.

My time at PEERS underlined for me how very difficult it is to find money for that work. A person can only rage for so long at public and government indifference before looking for new ways around the problem. I don't know how we'll make this brothel happen. But Lauren and I are both of a type to just keep slogging until things work out.

I think we'll find good people to help us. Work is already underway on similar fronts: Planning a co-op brothel in Vancouver, legal challenges going forward both nationally and in B.C. around the lack of safe, legal work places for sex workers.

So we'll begin, and see what happens. This country's done nothing for long enough.

Jody Paterson is a columnist with the Victoria Times-Colonist.

© The Ottawa Citizen 2007
A Closer Look - Jody's Blog
The Ottawa Citizen

Sunday, September 2

The would-be madam of Victoria

Jody Paterson used to write about prostitutes; now she plans to build a brothel, run by its workers

Sept 2, 2007


VICTORIA–She's run a newsroom at a daily newspaper but now she wants to build a co-op brothel, run by and for prostitutes.

Jody Paterson chuckles when she considers the career change from managing editor to madam of Victoria. But she says it was the people and stories she encountered on the news beat that ultimately led her to help the people she considers society's classic underdogs, sex workers.

Paterson, who also wrote a regular column for the Victoria Times-Colonist, admits many of the stories she wrote, especially ones about sex-trade workers, touched her personally.

She said she heard things she hadn't expected to hear that her life had not exposed her to previously. And she just couldn't ignore them.

So she quit her city column at the newspaper and joined a prostitute support group in Victoria.

It was during her time as executive director at the Prostitutes Empowerment Education and Resource Society – PEERS – that the idea to open a brothel was hatched.

"Initially, I was against prostitution," said Paterson, 50, and the mother of three grown children. "I was in favour of eliminating it. I felt it was exploitative of women."

But, after working with women at PEERS, she said she discovered many prostitutes are more interested in safe and healthy workplaces than debating putting an end to prostitution, she said.

"I met people who challenged my assumptions and I learned that I was wrong," Paterson said.

It was then that she and a colleague at PEERS, Lauren Casey, decided to tackle the brothel project.

"The time has passed for moralizing about why men buy sex and why people sell it," Paterson said. "Let's step forward and into the reality of it and have a safe, fair, good workplace for it."

She said the brothel opening is at least one year away.

Paterson said she and Casey are volunteering their time and effort to develop the brothel project. She said she won't be paid when it opens.

"Our aim is to listen to the people in the industry and say, `What do you want?'" she said.

There are several brothels currently operating in Victoria as escort agencies, Paterson said, adding her brothel will likely be registered as an escort agency, too.

"What's different about this one is the mandate for the profits is for social good," Paterson said.
"It's a co-op brothel. The women have participated in developing it, participated in the running of it and are empowered to make it a good workplace."

The profits from the brothel will go to PEERS, which will use the money to help prostitutes with issues ranging from drug detox and counselling to aiding them to leave the sex trade, she said.

At PEERS, support workers Alicia Koorn and Allison Scott say support for the co-op brothel is huge among sex-trade workers.

John McLaren, a member of the Trudeau-era Fraser Committee on prostitution and pornography, said he backs the co-op brothel concept.

"In principle, I would be in favour of such an experiment," said the retired University of Victoria law professor.

McLaren said none of the legal solutions to prostitution have been successful.

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