Sunday, November 29

Vancouver police back missing women public inquiry

By Lindsay Kines, Victoria Times Colonist

November 29, 2009

Robert Pickton was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for murdering six of the women who vanished from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside from 1978 to 2001.

Robert Pickton was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for murdering six of the women who vanished from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside from 1978 to 2001.

VICTORIA — For the first time, the Vancouver Police Department is openly backing calls for a public inquiry into the investigation of the missing women case that began more than a decade ago.

In an e-mail to the sister of one of the missing women, Deputy Chief Doug LePard says that she has the department's support in pressing for a full public inquiry.

"I am responding on behalf of Chief Const. Jim Chu and myself in stating that the Vancouver Police Department does support a public inquiry into the missing women case," LePard writes in the letter, which was made available to the Victoria Times Colonist.

"We believe a public inquiry is clearly in the public interest, and that this inquiry should be held at the earliest opportunity after the criminal matters regarding Robert Pickton are concluded."

Pickton, a Port Coquitlam, B.C., farmer, was found guilty on Dec. 9, 2007, and sentenced to life in prison for murdering six of the women who vanished from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside from 1978 to 2001.

Pickton's lawyers have appealed his second-degree murder convictions to the Supreme Court of Canada. If a new trial is ordered, he could be tried on an additional 20 counts.

Maggie de Vries, who first began calling for an inquiry in 2002, said she was astonished to receive LePard's note Thursday. Her sister Sarah de Vries disappeared in 1998 at the age of 28, and her DNA was found at Pickton's farm in 2002. "I find it amazing," de Vries said. "It's down there in black and white in a formal e-mail that, obviously, he expects not just me to read."

De Vries said she doesn't understand why the police are going public now. "But I'm very encouraged by it."

De Vries received LePard's note after sending a letter to Attorney General Mike de Jong last week, asking him to commit to launching an inquiry as soon as the publication bans related to the Pickton case are lifted. De Vries copied the letter to Premier Gordon Campbell, NDP Leader Carole James and a number of organizations, including Vancouver police, with a covering e-mail asking for their support.

LePard confirmed the department's support for an inquiry in an interview Friday. He said it was adopted "quite some time ago," but there was no reason to make it public earlier.

"We knew that nothing could happen until after the criminal matters were concluded in any case."

However, he said the department has made its position clear in private correspondence over the years with solicitors general John Les and Kash Heed.

LePard, who spent years investigating the department's handling of the case, said his book-length review is finished and will be made available once court proceedings conclude.

The department spoke to Crown counsel about releasing the report prior to the end of court matters, he said. But prosecutors determined the report could violate a number of publication bans that remain in place and possibly jeopardize a new trial, should one be necessary.

LePard said the report contains extensive recommendations for improving policing in B.C. The ones relating to the Vancouver department have all been acted upon, he said.

In her letter, de Vries said she believes LePard's report contains details of where the Vancouver police and RCMP went wrong during the missing-women investigation.

"That report, I understand, contains recommendations that have the power to save lives, but it sits under lock and key, unavailable even to VPD investigators for training purposes," she writes.

Meanwhile, she said, marginalized women continue to disappear and die across the country, while police departments continue to make errors in their investigations.

De Jong was asked about an inquiry following a Supreme Court decision last week. But he gave no indication that government plans to change course and commit to an inquiry.

"At this stage, we are still focusing our efforts and resources on the prosecution of the matter," he said.

© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service


Calls for Public Inquiry through the last 10 + years. Former Vancouver Sun reporter Lindsay Kines with the lastest story on the missing women case and a Public Inquiry.

How Lindsay Kines and Sun reporters broke missing women story.
One woman's disappearance became a focus. Vancouver Sun reporter Lindsay Kines relentless pursuit of the missing women story.
Could I have done more, ex- 'Tban anguishes. Lindsay Kines interview on the missing women case.
Two former police officers join call for investigation. Former VPD Inspector Detective Kim Rossmo and MacKay Dunn call for public inquiry.
Police inaction merits review. Former VPD Inspector Detective Kim Rossmo.,_20021.htm
Families of missing women infuriated by Vancouver Mayor's comments. Families and friends of 50 missing women flood city hall wanting Public Inquiry.,_2002.htm
Commissioner opens door to missing women inquiry.
Pickton tape given to police in 1998. Deborah Jardine mother Angela calls for public inquiry.,_2002.htm
Police told about farm many times.,_2002.htm B.C. Criminologist John Lowman calls for Public Inquiry.
VPD Chief rules out missing women inquiry.,_2002.htm
Families of Pickton's victims want public inquiry into police handling of case.
Public is critical of investigation.
Chief won't rule out public inquiry.,_2002.htm
Inquiry urged for B.C.'s missing women.
Coleman needs to protect public, not police.
New Vancouver Police Chief flips into controversy.,_2002.htm
Crey laments lack of charges
Police need a new attitude on crimes against Prostitutes.
Missing women, missing answers.,_2002.htm

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Saturday, November 28

Betty Kovacic's 'Portraits Inspired by Pain'

Pickton Appeal Disappointing for Grieving Families
News Release for
Friday, November 27, 2009, 1:09PM
Printed from

Supreme Court of Canada

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is dismayed that the Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to broaden the scope of Robert Pickton’s appeal on six counts of second-degree murder.

Effectively, the decision gives Pickton more grounds to argue that his convictions should be overturned. His trial concluded in 2007 and was one of the most high profile, longest, and expensive in Canadian history. Many of Pickton’s victims were Aboriginal or of Aboriginal descent.

“Robert Pickton was sentenced to life in prison for stealing the lives of six women. Each of these women was a mother, sister, auntie, or friend to someone,” stated NWAC President Jeannette Corbiere Lavell. “We recognize that the ongoing appeals make it extremely difficult for the families to continue forward in their healing journeys.”

NWAC released a report earlier this year, Voices of Our Sisters In Spirit: A Report to Families and Communities, 2nd Edition, documenting 520 Aboriginal women and girls either having gone missing or have been murdered, the majority in the last thirty years. 43 per cent of the murder cases remain unsolved. NWAC’s research indicates that at least one third of the women missing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside are Aboriginal or of Aboriginal descent.

In addition to being convicted of six counts of second-degree murder, Pickton was charged on another 20 counts of first-degree murder. The Crown does not plan to proceed with the additional charges if the first six convictions are upheld. NWAC regards this decision as utter disrespect for the families that have lost loved ones. “Our women deserve dignity and support. If a new trial is needed, it should be for the 20 other victims whose families continue looking for answers,” concluded President Corbiere Lavell. NWAC wishes to offer its condolences and ongoing support for the families of the missing and murdered women.

NWAC’s Sisters In Spirit initiative is a research, education and policy initiative designed to address the disturbing numbers of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. Through the work of the initiative, NWAC works to honour the women and girls who have been lost to violence and remember those who are missing.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of Aboriginal women within the Aboriginal community and Canadian society. In 2009, as we celebrate our 35th year of service, we are proud to continue to speak as a voice for Aboriginal women.

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Friday, November 27

Brother of suspected Pickton victim dies in Victoria drowning

By Richard Watts, Victoria Times Colonist

November 28, 2009 2:02 AM

Katheryn Derksen mother of drowning victim Victor Greek talks about her son at her Victoria home

Katheryn Derksen mother of drowning victim Victor Greek talks about her son at her Victoria home

Photograph by: Bruce Stotesbury, Times Colonist

VICTORIA — For grief-stricken Kathryn Derksen, the news that her son drowned Thursday night in a Victoria waterway was a terrible, double blow, coming just a month after police said serial killer Robert Pickton should be charged with killing her daughter.

The Victoria woman confirmed Friday that her son, Victor Greek, 46, died after a boat he was in with his wife, Eveline Greek, 51, and a 44-year-old unidentified man, flipped a little after 5 p.m.

While Eveline and the man were rescued and taken to hospital, Greek's body was pulled from the water around 9 p.m.

Friday, Derksen struggled with the news that her second child has died.

In 1991, Derksen's daughter Nancy Clark, who had changed her last name from Greek, went missing. The 25-year-old was last seen in Victoria, however, her name has been on the list of missing women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside for many years.

Just a month ago, on Oct. 28, RCMP announced they recommended that Pickton, who was convicted in 2007 of killing six women, be charged in six more deaths — including Clark's.

In a brief interview, an obviously shaken Derksen said that Greek had suffered a blow to the head when he was young that injured him so severely he had to re-learn how to speak and walk.

He lived on a disability pension, and had two sons with Eveline. Greek had owned a boat, moored in the Gorge, for several months. "He loved the boat. He had such big plans," she said.

"He wouldn't hurt a fly," she added.

Friday, a friend of the couple described them as "beautiful, beautiful people."

"They knew what it was like to be loving, giving and kind," said Rich Rico, a folk artist. He said the boat wasn't a live-aboard, rather the Greeks used it regularly for fun.

Victoria police believe the couple and their friend had been on the boat in the afternoon, and were returning to shore in a dinghy, when it capsized. Passersby heard their screams and called 911.

Friday, Victoria police Chief Jamie Graham praised two constables from the police marine response unit who pulled the two survivors from the water. "It goes without saying how proud I am, and the whole department is," said Graham.

Constables Brent Burger and Debbie Wyatt rushed to the scene in a police Zodiac-style boat, and spotted a man and a woman clinging to the skiff. They managed to pull the woman into the boat, but as they were doing so, the man lost his grip, and started to sink beneath the surface of the icy water.

"He let go. He was thrashing in the water for a little bit then he stopped and he had gone under. He wasn't moving anymore," said Wyatt.

With Burger driving the boat, Wyatt jumped in the water, with only a marine survival jacket for protection, and pulled the stricken man to the surface.

However, Wyatt and the man, who was unconscious, had to remain in the water for at least five minutes until a Victoria Fire Department boat could get to them — the side of the police boat was too high for Wyatt and Burger to haul the man out.

"It was cold, very cold," said Wyatt. "For them (the two survivors) to hold on to the rope as long as they were would have been very difficult."

Wyatt said the man was unconscious the whole time she held him up. The woman was conscious but unable to speak.

Because Eveline couldn't speak, rescuers weren't sure there was a third person in the water.

After 3 1/2 hours, members of the police dive team found his body submerged in the water near where the boat overturned.

None of the three people were wearing life jackets, police say.

© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

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Wednesday, November 25

Downtown Eastside serial killer Robert Pickton keeps fighting for appeal

By Suzanne Fournier, The Province

November 25, 2009 10:02 PM

Robert Pickton is seen in his Port Coquitlam home in this undated file video grab. Pickton, a Canadian pig farmer, was convicted on December 9, 2007 of the serial killings of six women whose bodies were butchered like animals in his farm's slaughterhouse.

Robert Pickton is seen in his Port Coquitlam home in this undated file video grab. Pickton, a Canadian pig farmer, was convicted on December 9, 2007 of the serial killings of six women whose bodies were butchered like animals in his farm's slaughterhouse.

Photograph by: Screengrab, REUTERS/Global TV

The Supreme Court of Canada will rule Thursday whether the lawyer for convicted serial killer Robert Pickton can add to his grounds for appeal at a hearing next March.

In 2007, Pickton was convicted of the second-degree murder of six women who disappeared from the Downtown Eastside.

The families of the missing and murdered women have been told nothing about the decision Thursday, or what it means to the fate of Pickton’s conviction, or whether a potential 26 further murder charges may some day proceed.

Of 26 charges originally laid against Pickton, 20 were severed to be tried at a later date.

RCMP Cpl. Annie Linteau said police have recommended another six murder charges should be laid against Pickton.

“The victims’ families have been cut loose to grub around for information on developments like (Thursday's) legal maneuvering at the Supreme Court,” said Ernie Crey, whose sister Dawn Crey is among the six cases RCMP have put forward to Crown counsel for charge approval.

“I am saddened and disappointed by the entire thing.”

B.C. Supreme Court Justice James Williams sentenced Pickton to life in prison with no parole for at least 25 years, the same sentence he would have received if he’d been convicted of first-degree murder.

Pickton appealed, lost and now is appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Gil McKinnon, Pickton’s appeal lawyer, said Wednesday that he has asked Canada’s top court for three additional grounds of appeal, all related to instructions by the judge to the jury on the sixth day of its deliberations.

© Copyright (c) The Province

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Monday, November 16

Supreme Court asked to allow more bail information

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mike De Souza, Canwest News Service Felicity Don/Reuters

OTTAWA -- Lawyers from the Edmonton Journal and other media organizations on Monday asked the Supreme Court of Canada to loosen restrictions on what the public has the right to know about evidence presented at bail hearings.

The case was launched following a publication ban at a hearing in which an Edmonton man accused of killing his pregnant wife was granted bail.

"Keeping the public in the dark, in my opinion, can be a recipe for uninformed speculation, fuelling widely publicized concern in the community [and] a far greater risk to the fair trial rights of the accused and the Crown," said Fred Kozak who is representing CBC, CTV and the Journal.

Mr. Kozak said that the publication ban on details presented at the bail hearing deprived the public from being informed in the media about why the suspect, Michael White, had been granted bail at the time.

"People were outraged when he was released on bail," said Mr. Kozak. "People wanted to know the reason why he was released, distressed neighbours feared for their safety and the safety of their children, and others circulated petitions asking that bail laws be changed."

During a bail hearing, the Crown prosecutor will typically outline the nature of the case and the evidence gathered by police, and in some instances, will refer to the accused person's criminal record.

In deciding whether to grant bail, a judge considers whether the accused is likely to return to court or is a danger to the public. The judge also strives to maintain public confidence in the justice system.

Lawyers for some of the suspects arrested in connection with an alleged terrorism plot in Toronto also supported the media's case, arguing that the media ban in their cases prevented them from publicly countering allegations made by police.

The lawyers, including Paul Schabas, who represented the Toronto Star, said the public would have more confidence in the justice system if judges published reasons for their decisions and as much information as possible. But they recognized that they should still be able to ban specific evidence that would affect an accused's fair trial rights.

Lawyers representing the federal government and provincial attorneys general from Alberta and Ontario argued that the existing laws should be upheld to ensure fair trials in the system. They noted that suspects generally don't have a great deal of information about the evidence or the capacity to respond to allegations at bail hearings which are in the early stages of their case, following an arrest.

Jolaine Antonio, who represented the Alberta government, said society would lose if it allowed excessive pre-trial publicity that could potentially influence a jury prior to its selection.

"The Crown at least, doesn't want to meet that first case, where a fair trial is not available." Ms. Antonio said. "That is a situation to be avoided at all costs."

While the media lawyers argued that juries were selected quickly in high-profile murder cases with extensive pre-trial media coverage, such as those of Robert Pickton and Paul Bernardo, the government lawyers argued that the existing laws were the ones that ensured fair trials.

"The very remedy which these opponents seeks would have made that jury selection substantially more difficult, substantially longer and placed under a substantially crumbling cloud, which thankfully, we don't have," said David Lepofsky, who represented the Ontario government.

© 2009 The National Post Company. All rights reserved. Unauthorized distribution, transmission or republication strictly prohibited.

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Moralizing no safety net for prostitutes


Edmonton Sun

Last Updated: 16th November 2009, 1:22am

Amber O'Hara doesn't mind having prostitutes working the sidewalk outside her apartment building.

"Sex trade workers should have the right to choose where he and she wants to work," the wheelchair-bound great- grandmother said. "It's not prostitution that's killing the women. It's the violence."

O'Hara, who was in Edmonton recently, lives in a seedy Toronto neighborhood she describes as "Crack Central," the Dundas and Sherbourne area.

It's a district in transition. There's lots of poverty, but it's slowly being gentrified and the well-to-do newcomers are pressuring local police to run the prostitutes out.

"Some of the people are outright hateful," she said.

O'Hara doesn't think that will solve anything, other than to push the prostitutes into back alleys, poorly lit industrial areas and other spots that put them at risk.

"It's so different than it was when I worked," the 58-year-old said. "They're so desperate now. It's so much more dangerous and they're so afraid they're going to get busted. There's a different energy out there on the streets than when I was there."

O'Hara, an activist who runs the website, used to call for decriminalization of the sex trade. Nowadays, she's calling for it to be outright legalized.

"It's the only way to ensure their safety," she argues. "They shouldn't be forced to work in an unsafe environment."

The website lists hundreds of women who've gone missing across the country. The Alberta page alone has 70 names.

O'Hara, who has her master's degree in social work, quit the sex trade in 1983 after working the streets across Canada and in some U.S. cities.

"I had other jobs," she said, listing a few off. "I was a waitress. I did medical transcription. I was in social work. But I had mouths to feed so I'd do this too. It's how I put myself through university."

She admits to forming a drug habit when she was young, but has been clean and sober for 27 years.

In 1990 she was diagnosed with HIV, which has since developed into full-blown AIDS.

O'Hara knows from getting tested regularly when she contracted the virus that it was the result of a rape.

She says she was attacked while helping bring supplies to the Mohawk protesters at Oka, Quebec.

But despite it all, O'Hara continues to work on behalf of disadvantaged women, especially those in the sex trade. There's no bitterness over the cards life has dealt her.

"I'm at the end stage of my life," she says evenly, without a trace of sentimentality.

She's perfectly happy to co-exist with street prostitution.

"People were complaining about needles and condoms on the sidewalks," she said.

"They didn't have anywhere to put them. I went out and gave them garbage bags and asked them to please use them and they were perfectly happy to."

She takes them soup and offers condoms if they need it.

O'Hara has often opened her home to prostitutes seeking shelter from the cold or trying to get away from a bad date or vindictive pimp.

Sometimes they come to her looking for a way out of the life but see no way out because they're mired in drug addiction. O'Hara helps them get into detox and rehab.

"They're people, like you or me," she says simply. "If I was healthy, I'd go back to it again."

You probably don't agree with O'Hara. But how can you not admire her compassion?


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Women's advocates lobby for voice

Human-rights museum panel seeks advice on issues to highlight

By Andrea Sands, Edmonton Journal

November 16, 2009 7:16 AM

When officials from the Canadian Museum for Human Rights visit Edmonton this week, an Edmonton mother will push for an exhibit to highlight women's rights.

Kathy King, whose daughter, Caralyn, was found dead 12 years ago in a Sherwood Park canola field, has been eagerly awaiting a chance to speak to museum representatives about the human rights of women. She will get that chance on Tuesday when the museum's content advisory committee stops here on its cross-country tour to gather opinions on what the museum should ultimately look like.

"It's so incredibly ambitious, all the things that they're planning, so this is exciting," King said Sunday. "I'm pleased that they're finally coming here. It's something we've been looking forward to for a couple of years."

King will join Kate Quinn, executive director of the Prostitution Awareness and Action Foundation of Edmonton, in urging the museum to permanently display an art exhibition called A Roomful of Missing Women, a multimedia show that features paintings of 50 women from Vancouver's downtown eastside who are missing or have been murdered.

"We have talked about this for a couple of years, ever since I heard they were doing a museum for human rights," King said. "I thought, OK, whose human rights have been violated across history and across the world more than the rights of women? I thought, isn't this a good opportunity to create that awareness at a national level."

The meetings and roundtable talks Tuesday at Grant MacEwan University are part of an effort to gather personal stories to guide the design of the $310-million museum, slated to open in Winnipeg in 2012.

Longtime human-rights activist and educator, Lewis Cardinal, has also been invited to meet with museum officials. Cardinal has won the Alberta Centennial Medal for his work in human rights and diversity. He is on the board of directors for the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights and does work with The Global Youth Assembly. Cardinal also works with numerous advocacy groups and is co-chairman of the Aboriginal Commission on Human Rights and Justice and a founder of Racism-Free Edmonton, a city project to end racism and discrimination.

Cardinal said he wants the museum to include exhibits on aboriginal and treaty rights within Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. It should also address immigrants' rights, such as the rights of temporary foreign workers, many of whom have made their way to Alberta, Cardinal said.

"The museum itself has to be a showcase of our rights and history and the violation of those rights, but also, what is the future of Canada in human rights," he said, noting that designers will bring theatre and art into the space. "It's not a dusty museum of remembrance, but it's a living, dynamic reality, and that's what I want to see in this museum." He described the beautiful spire--the tower of hope--that will crown the building and give a wide view of Winnipeg. "It should inspire, and we should aspire to the values of human rights," Cardinal said. "That's what I like about it."

Angela Cassie, the museum's director of communications and public engagement, said the museum's physical design is meant to empower people to see beyond human rights failures and educate them on how to advance human rights in their communities. "We hope to also be able to inspire them with examples of people who have survived, people who have succeeded, people who have achieved and made a difference," Cassie said.

The museum's content advisory committee --made up of human rights scholars, specialists and leaders--started the public consultation sessions in May, and will visit 18 communities before the tour ends in February.

In Edmonton, approximately 50 people and groups so far have registered to participate, Cassie said. Museum officials will also hold public roundtables from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

"Whether it be issues of religion, whether it be issues of gender or orientation or language or economic and poverty issues--those are all topics that fall under the umbrella of human rights," Cassie said.

The 47,000 square-foot museum is the first national museum established in more than 40 years, and the first to be located outside the National Capital Region. The project will include exhibits related to Indian residential schools, Japanese internment camps and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Cassie said. Migration, as well as challenges for people with disabilities are other human-rights topics that have been raised across the country, she said.

© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal

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Tuesday, November 10

How Angel found her wings

November 07, 2009

Diane Flacks


Angel Wolfe, 16, has found that lost lives are given dignity when they are understood in all their complexity.


Angel Wolfe is only 16 but her life has already been marked by tragedy. Eight years ago, she learned that her mother was one of the victims of serial killer Robert Pickton.

Brenda Wolfe's remains were discovered on Pickton's pig farm, her jawbone stuck in mud in a pigsty.

Now her daughter is trying to go beyond the shallowness of notoriety, to appreciate the complexity of the lives that were lost, and to ease the burden of the other relatives of Pickton's victims.

Angel was 5 when she last saw her mother.

At age 8, after three years living with a foster family in Vancouver, police brusquely took a sample of Angel's DNA in order to help identify her dead mother. The encounter with authorities left her shocked and scared.

"It added a rough layer to me – on the outside," Angel says. "On the inside, a huge anger toward my mom grew."

Today, she has transformed that anger into a desire to effect change. In a whirlwind few months starting in August, she began connecting with her mother's native roots and then participated in a Truth and Reconciliation workshop with Governor General Michaëlle Jean.

This meeting inspired Angel to tell her story, to help other native women and youth to avoid her mother's path.

"I want to work toward making an awareness about native women and the stereotypes – `Oh, they're on the streets' – that go with them."

A Grade 11 student who now lives in Toronto, Angel has a steady voice as she speaks candidly about being the daughter of a well-known murder victim and how she has come to love the mother she became reacquainted with second hand.

"Today was my mother's 41st birthday," she says in a phone interview, "so this is a bit emotional."

When asked where she got the fortitude to move beyond her anger, she credits Brenda. "She's on my shoulder giving me the strength she had."

But when the news first broke, she judged her mother harshly. Pickton's victims were on the margins of society – described as drug-addicted denizens of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside sex trade. Many were aboriginal.

Angel feels the view was that they were "disposable" – and so were their relatives. That explains why authorities treated her so badly – as a part of a police investigation, not as a grieving 8-year-old.

Among the haunting pictures of the dozens of missing women that police suspected Pickton of murdering is one of Brenda Wolfe. She is looking at the camera with her head tilted back, wary. The resemblance to her daughter is obvious. "It drove me nuts," Angel says of the initial publicity. "People were calling me – mothers of my friends, `Is Angel's mom in the newspaper?'"

She suffered depression and was given medication. That made her wonder if her mother had an undiagnosed mental illness and perhaps was self-medicating on the streets.

This and other questions provoked Angel to discover who her mother was before addiction took her away. "I started talking to my grandma. I saw these old, old pictures of my mom. She always had this great smile."

The pictures triggered flashes of memory: Brenda loved the ocean and jazz music. She liked to dance and had long, beautiful, curly hair. There were dark memories, too: of Brenda being addicted to over-the-counter pills; of "a man with a tattoo on his neck" offering heroin.

"It all went downhill from there," Angel recalls.

As she learned more about her mother, she began to feel compassion. "An addiction will make you forget who you are," she says. "My mom forgot where she could have gone. All she had were her drugs."

Angel kept a scrapbook of all the newspaper clippings that mentioned her mother. "With me, I cannot heal without knowing all of the truth before I can get my own opinion," she explains.

When she finally burned it, "it was my own version of getting rid of the negative and turning it to ashes."

Angel now feels she was lucky in that Pickton was convicted of second-degree murder in her mother's death.

He faced murder charges regarding 26 missing women, but most of those cases were not resolved.

"I got my closure with the trial. I know who took my mother's life," Angel says. "So many people, they don't know who took their sister or mother or aunt. More needs to be done to find them so their families can move on and make a difference."

As her understanding grew, Angel formed a desire to create a legacy for them all.

So, this summer, despite having little connection with her native heritage (her foster family are non-native) and having never even been fond of camping, Angel literally jumped into the water.

A friend referred her to the Canadian Roots Exchange, an agency created to connect native and non-native youth to native traditions. Angel joined them on a six-day canoe trip through Algonquin Park, to the Silver Lake Pow Wow.

She says she felt a kinship and a sense of pride where before there had been fury and secrets.

Then, in October, she and five other youth from Canadian Roots were invited to meet the Governor General.

"One of the things she told us was that even though she was just talking with a small group of kids, it will make a huge difference for tomorrow in eliminating that gap between non-native and native youth today," Angel says.

She felt she had found a mission, to show native youth that people care, there are options, services, hope.

"I am living proof that you can reach out for help and community, find it and keep your head up high, and good things will happen."

Angel hopes that by speaking out as Brenda Wolfe's daughter, she will also be able to offer optimism to the families of all the missing women.

"Let my mother rest in peace with the truth, and have those other women rest in peace or be found with the truth....They really do deserve some dignity and respect."

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Captain Trevor Greene

Josh Wingrove

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail Published on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009 10:39PM EST Last updated on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009 10:49PM EST

In a room of dignitaries and political leaders gathered for a black-tie gala to benefit the families of fallen soldiers, a Cape Breton boy stole the show.

Three years after an Afghan insurgent attacked him with an axe, leaving him close to death, Captain Trevor Greene was an honoured guest at the fundraiser in downtown Toronto Tuesday night, and called on the crowd to support the families of troops who are injured or killed.

“They need money. The wounded soldiers and the families need help,” he said in halting, soft speech, the hand of his fiancée on his shoulder and a microphone close to his mouth. Applause broke out after each careful, determined sentence. He recalled getting a new assignment from his general after his devastating injury.

“He said, ‘Get better, we'll help you. We make these Canadian Forces, and walk shoulder to shoulder with me all the way,' ” Capt. Greene said, as the Chief of Defence Staff, General Walter Natynczyk, looked on.

“General, it's my intent to walk into your office some day, shake your hand, and say mission accomplished, sir.”

After its heartfelt conclusion, the speech – which came before addresses from dignitaries such as Prince Charles (a recorded video address) and Prime Minister Stephen Harper – was met with a standing ovation.

“When he paused in there, you could hear a pin drop,” said Captain Kevin Schamuhn, who led Capt. Greene's platoon on the day of the attack and joined him on stage last night. “There's a weird emotional awe around him. ... He is the real deal.”

Capt. Greene, who was born in Sydney, N.S., spoke at the inaugural gala for the True Patriot Love Foundation, which supports the families of Canadian soldiers through the Military Families Fund, founded two years ago by former chief of defence staff Rick Hillier.

Outside, Capt. Greene, 44, admitted he was a bit jittery in front of the well-heeled crowd, but was there on business.

“I want to convince them of the need of the combat troops that are injured, the desperation of the family,” he told The Globe and Mail. “Families need help.”

In March, 2006, Capt. Greene was in a community meeting with village elders, at which he and a colleague removed their helmets as a sign of respect. A villager stormed in and attacked the group, splitting Capt. Greene's head open with an axe.

It's a story he's recounted several times, including to his 4 1/2-year-old daughter, Grace.

“She wanted to know about the bad man who hit me, [asking] over and over,” he said. A year ago, he and his fiancée, Debbie Lepore, decided to tell her. “A bad man hit me on the head. He was confused,” Capt. Greene, still anxious to help the Afghan people, told his daughter.

His rehabilitation continues – “I call it a marathon of baby steps” – as he and Ms. Lepore, who met in 2001, prepare to get married next July. In the meantime, he's been busy, having accepted a medal on Monday from Governor General Michaëlle Jean, whom he found “warm and compassionate.” Today, he'll speak to high school students in west Toronto.

He and Capt. Schamuhn said they hope the True Patriot Love Foundation, which raised $2-million Tuesday night, will succeed in supporting the families of injured soldiers, and both were happy to share their stories.

“I've always found it therapeutic to get the message out there,” Capt. Schamuhn said, adding with a grin: “It helps when your audience is like the one out there.”

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