Friday, December 31

Damning evidence excluded

Damning evidence excluded

Details supporting 20 more murder charges against Pickton relegated to trial that never happened

This story includes details that may disturb some readers


There was a tremendous amount of damning evidence against Robert (Willie) Pickton that the jurors deciding his fate did not hear during his year-long trial in 2007, including an allegation from a sex-trade worker that he nearly stabbed her to death.

A series of behind-the-scenes legal rulings meant explosive Crown evidence was kept from the jury, which ultimately found Pickton not guilty of first-degree murder in the deaths of six women, but guilty of the lesser charge of second-degree murder.

Publication bans kept this information under wraps until the Supreme Court of Canada quashed Pickton's bid for a new trial, prompting B.C.'s attorney-general to stay 20 additional charges of first-degree murder against Pickton.

At the top of this shocking list of missing evidence was that of a woman who (who can't be named) said Pickton picked her up in the Downtown Eastside and brutally stabbed her on his farm in 1997.

Police found widespread evidence on Pickton's farm linked to the other 20 women he was charged with killing, but those details were kept from the jury because the judge ruled they would be heard during a separate trial, which will not be held now that those charges have been stayed. The excluded evidence includes revelations that:

- The DNA of 10 of the women was found on items in two freezers in Pickton's workshop, where police found the butchered remains of two women he was convicted of killing.

- Also in the freezers were packages of ground meat containing the DNA of victims Inga Hall and Cindy Feliks.

- Cara Ellis's DNA was found on Pickton's jacket and Andrea Borhaven's DNA on his boots -- clothing seized after the 1997 knife attack but forgotten in a police locker for seven years.

- On Pickton's property, police found multiple objects linked to the 20 additional victims, including Jennifer Furminger's DNA on a saw in the slaughterhouse; the DNA of Pickton and Jacqueline McDonell on handcuffs in the accused's bedroom, and Pickton's DNA on two condoms found inside two purses linked to Sarah de Vries and Dianne Rock.

- Wendy Crawford's partial leg bone was found in the cistern of the old piggery, near the remains of two women Pickton was convicted of killing.

There were multiple other bones and teeth buried in Pickton's property, which the Crown privately called the "killing fields," but that information was not shared with the jurors.

The jury also did not hear about an astounding collection of women's belongings that could not be connected by DNA to any of the known victims. For example, on one cluttered shelf in the slaughterhouse -- close to where police found the jewelry of Andrea Joesbury, whom Pickton has been convicted of killing -- there were three necklaces, one pair of earrings and three single earrings, a hair elastic, a cosmetic pencil sharpener, a woman's watch and a woman's watch face, two pendants and lip balm.

The Crown argued a blow-up sex doll bearing Pickton's DNA found in his bedroom closet near items belonging to the victims was relevant because "of the potential sexual nature of Mr. Pickton's dealings" with the women, but the judge agreed with the defence that it would tarnish his character for the jury to hear about the toy.

"The doll in question is rather peculiar and bizarre in appearance. The thought that Mr. Pickton engaged in sexual activity with this item could reasonably be expected to repulse members of the jury. In my view, there is a real concern that admission of the doll would be prejudicial," Williams said in his ruling.

There was another piece of evidence that would surely have tarnished Pickton's character even more, if the jury had ever had a chance to see it.

Immediately after Pickton's Feb. 22, 2002 arrest, he was videotaped in his cell. The jury saw portions of the tape when he was speaking to his cellmate (an undercover officer), but what was edited out was shocking: When the cellmate was briefly removed, Pickton stripped off his clothes and masturbated, despite having been told there was a security camera in the ceiling.

Whether the six murders Pickton was convicted of committing were sex crimes was never debated at the trial because the victims' remains did not provide that evidence.

When prosecutor Michael Petrie told the jury at the end of the prosecution's case on Aug. 13, 2007 he was "satisfied the evidence the Crown should be calling has been called," what he surely meant was he had called the evidence he was allowed, by law, to reveal to the jury.

Some of the information was held from the jury after the judge ruled in 2006 that Pickton should face two separate trials: the first on six counts, and a second on 20 counts.

Even after that ruling, the Crown wanted to tell the jury about the ground meat and the leg bone found in the cistern, as "similar fact evidence."

In his ruling, Williams said he was satisfied "that the DNA material found in the freezers is some part of the remains of Ms Feliks and Ms Hall, that they were murdered and that they were dismembered."

However, Williams ultimately ruled there was no conclusive link between Pickton and the ground meat or the leg bone, that they would not have added much to the Crown's case, and permitting the evidence would have been prejudicial to Pickton and made the trial longer.

The defence was opposed to the jury hearing about all the unidentified women's jewelry and other belongings found scattered throughout the slaughterhouse because the jurors might "improperly" conclude that the items constituted a "trophy" display of possessions of other missing women.

The judge also agreed with arguments by the defence that the jury shouldn't hear about additional guns stashed in the loft of Pickton's workshop because it would make the accused seem like a "gun nut."

Regarding Furminger's DNA being found on an electric saw, Williams said "a reasonably available inference is that it may have been used to dismember human beings." But because the DNA did not belong to any of the six women at the centre of the first trial, its inclusion would be "significantly prejudicial" to Pickton.

He ruled the condoms with Pickton's DNA were admissible, but the fact that they were found in purses belonging to Dianne Rock and Sarah DeVries was not.

"The order for severance ... has resulted, from time to time, in collateral consequences to the Crown's case," he added.

How knowing about this evidence might have affected the jury's decision will never be known because in Canada, jurors cannot be interviewed about how they reached their verdict.

Historic mistreatment - Winnipeg Free Press

Historic mistreatment - Winnipeg Free Press

Solving biggest mystery in Indian country underlines roots of violence against aboriginal women

Wednesday, December 29

The Case of the Serial Killer - TIME

The Case of the Serial Killer - TIME

Vancouver police light up Sister Watch program

Vancouver police light up Sister Watch program

The Vancouver Police Department stepped up its Sister Watch program Wednesday by distributing free disposal lighters at Main and Hastings.

The multi-coloured lighters are stamped with “Sister Watch” and a phone number — 604-215-4777 — and glued to a business card that says, “When you are in trouble, afraid or in danger, call Sisterwatch.”

Vancouver police officers are distributing 3,000 of the lighters free in the Downtown Eastside and on other beats.

The lighters are “like currency” and will be bought, sold and traded and that increases the exposure of the name and number of Sister Watch on the street, which was established months ago, said VPD spokeswoman Jana McGuinness.

“It’s along the lines of Blockwatch for the women (living on the Downtown Eastside) ... especially for the indigenous community,” said Juanita Desjarlais, a member of the Missing Women’s Memorial March committee.

“We all look out for each other, that’s just the way we,” she said.

The Sister Watch number is better than the existing system of 911 calls because the operators are trained to be more compassionate and sensitive, said Desjarlais.

McGuinness said there are no numbers yet on how many calls the program has received since it began but said police have received information they wouldn’t have without the dedicated line.

Tuesday, December 28

YouTube - Morningstar Mercredi

YouTube - Morningstar Mercredi

‘She was decades ahead of her time’ - NovaScotia -

‘She was decades ahead of her time’ - NovaScotia -
Daughter wants Anna Mae Aquash remembered for more than violent way she died

Anna Mae Pictou Aquash’s murder 35 years ago quickly became synonymous with the violent clashes between the American Indian Movement and federal authorities. (AP)
Anna Mae Pictou Aquash’s murder 35 years ago quickly became synonymous with the violent clashes between the American Indian Movement and federal authorities. (AP)

Denise Maloney Pictou, right, and her sister, Debbie Maloney, daughters of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash, talk to reporters earlier this month after John Graham was found guilty in Rapid City, S.D., of felony murder involving a kidnapping in connection with the 1975 slaying of their mother. Graham was fou
Denise Maloney Pictou, right, and her sister, Debbie Maloney, daughters of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash, talk to reporters earlier this month after John Graham was found guilty in Rapid City, S.D., of felony murder involving a kidnapping in connection with the 1975 slaying of their mother. Graham was fou

ANNA MAE Pictou Aquash’s daughter has spent much of the past 35 years looking for answers in her mother’s murder. In the last decade, Denise Maloney Pictou has seen two people charged and convicted of killing Aquash, both of whom were active in the American Indian Movement during the 1970s.

Maloney Pictou recently returned from John Graham’s trial in South Dakota, where the Canadian aboriginal was convicted Dec. 10 of murder in Aquash’s death. Prosecutors told the court the Indian Brook native was killed because AIM activists believed she was an FBI informant. Although Aquash’s body was found in February 1976, it took years until enough witnesses came forward to make a case against those involved.

Maloney Pictou plans to return for Graham’s sentencing in January.

Q: You told a reporter shortly after Graham’s conviction that you felt it was just "a step forward" toward justice. What did you mean by that?

A: This is a 35-year-old (case) that has been going through the court system the last 15 years, and there (are) more people involved. There were actually three people named (who) were involved in her murder. We’ve tried one, Arlo Looking Cloud, and now John Graham and also Arlo named Theda Nelson Clark as being involved in the kidnapping and the whole process of (Aquash’s) murder. For us, it’s always been about exposing the truth.

For many years we were told by those involved in her murder, and also involved in hiding her murder, that it was the FBI that murdered her. So for us, when I say it’s the beginning, it is. Even though it’s a 35-year-old case, it’s only the last 15 years that it’s been in the court system.

Q: You say that you’re still looking for truth. What sort of truth came out for you during the trial?

A: It’s not necessarily looking for the truth — the truth has been there, it was bringing it to the public. Our family has known for a long time that things weren’t right within the movement. We knew when (my mother) came home 35 years ago (and) told family members that she had been interrogated for being an informant at that time. We had family members that actually begged her not to go back, but she had a lot of commitment and belief in the movement and she felt she was able to convince (her interrogators) that she wasn’t the person they were accusing her of being.

As far as the truth being out there, (this) was bringing it to the public and exposing it. This wasn’t about sending a bunch of people to prison, it’s about these people taking responsibility for their actions and admitting to the lies that they’ve hand-fed not just to us but to a whole community of people. Everybody believed . . . that it was the FBI that killed my mother. To find out it was her own group has made a mockery of my mother, (who) she was as a human being and what she was fighting against.

Q: What sort of catharsis did attending the trial provide for you and for your sister Debbie?

A: I never say there’s any kind of release or any kind of closure. Honestly, this isn’t about closure — this is about justice. . . . I don’t want to forget my mother. This isn’t about putting anything behind us. I want people to remember who she was, because the values that she carried in her ethics are something (that) I feel (were) robbed from our family and our community. She was decades ahead of her time in her thought processes, in knowing how valuable education was and how valuable (it was) bringing traditional lifestyles back to our First Nations community. The darkness and the politics that shrouded (my mother’s death) for so many years prevented a lot of people from focusing on (her work). Instead, everybody wanted to focus on the drama, the mystery and the conspiracy.

Q: How do you feel her legacy has affected your family?

A: Growing up without her, we obviously felt the loss, but we had a lot of living family that protected us and kept us on the right track and nurtured us, not necessarily in the way that my mother would, so we always felt her loss. Certain milestones in our life — our marriages, the birth of our children, classic moments (where most people) would look to their mothers — we obviously felt the void. But we were raised by a stepmother who was very loving. My children call her Grammy, but they also know who their maternal grandmother is. They know who Annie Mae is and they’re all very proud of her.

Q: What comes next for you?

A: Well, we have (Graham’s) sentencing coming up now. We always don’t look too far into the future because that’s just the nature of the process. When you’re dealing with people who have lied for 35 years, pulling the truth out into the light is not an easy feat. (The leadership of the American Indian Movement) has had 35 years to do damage control and reinvent themselves through documentaries and books . . . and make themselves look like upstanding citizens of our communities, but I think people need to start asking questions about their involvement and knowledge in my mother’s death and questioning them for not speaking up.


Monday, December 27

Looking for closure amidst the tragedy

owen court

By Tracy Holmes - Peace Arch News
Published: December 27, 2010 4:00 PM
Updated: December 27, 2010 4:24 PM

Of all the pain, suffering and injury that happens around the world, there is none more horrific than that inflicted on humans by humans.

As a coroner, South Surrey’s Owen Court has seen more than enough evidence to make this statement with confidence.

“Every time I say I’ve seen everything, something happens that proves me wrong,” Court said. “I’ve seen a lot of people who didn’t deserve to die the way they did.”

• • •

Court, 37, began determining answers to deaths about a decade ago, and went on to take charge of reviewing all child deaths in B.C.

But it was in 2004 that he took on the role that would prove to be the most important in his career to date: leading the coroner’s side of the Vancouver missing-women investigation.

Spanning nine years, the Robert Pickton file was the largest and most graphic serial-killer investigation in Canada’s history.

Previously, that horrific distinction was held by the Clifford Olson investigation. Olson, now 70, remains in prison after pleading guilty in 1982 to killing 11 B.C. children.

Pickton – who confessed to an undercover officer to the killing of 49 women – is now serving life in prison following convictions on six counts of second-degree murder. He was initially charged in connection with more than two dozen killings, and forensics linked 33 missing women to his Port Coquitlam pig farm, including one whose identity remains a mystery.

“Unfortunately, we’ll never know exactly how many there were,” Court said in an interview. “The evidence says there were 33.”

At the time Pickton was arrested on Feb. 22, 2002, Court was a general-duty officer with Burnaby RCMP.

Court had a taste of coroner’s work before joining the police force, and made the decision to return to the field after 27 months as a Mountie – drawn by the satisfaction he’d found in death investigation and prevention.

At the time, then-Fraser Regional Coroner Kent Stewart had charge of the Pickton file. Court inherited the case after Stewart was appointed chief coroner in Saskatchewan.

Court doesn’t know if he had the option of declining the investigation. It didn’t matter. The thought “never once” occurred to him.

At times, over the years that followed, the file consumed entire weeks of Court’s life.

And every aspect of it was graphic.

“Nothing’s more horrific than the things that humans do to each other,” he said.

Court described the investigation as massive – from the number of victims and amount of evidence, to the volume of investigators and stakeholders involved.

His greatest challenge, he said, was to provide the families of the missing women with the information they needed, while respecting the sensitive nature of the ongoing criminal investigation.

“Once the case was officially concluded, it was a relief to be able to have frank conversations with the families and finally return the remains of these women.”

Such was his connection to the families, Court was invited in September to attend the funeral of one of the victims. In a career where he has always learned about people through their deaths, it was a rare opportunity to learn, from the woman’s friends and family, who she was in life.

Despite the investigation’s size and graphic nature, Court insists the deaths never followed him home; they took no toll on his personal life.

“This has never been about me. The focus has always been on the victims and their families,” he said. “At the heart of it are still people who’ve lost somebody very close to them. They lost them under horrific circumstances and in some cases, waited 8½ years or longer, to have some type of closure. They’ve been through a lot more than any reasonable person can be expected to. I’d be hard-pressed to think of family members who have endured more.”

In an interview six years ago, Court told Peace Arch News of a case that haunted him; that of a woman in her 30s who collapsed and died at home alone. He was never able to determine – to tell her family – why she died. Such cases don’t happen often, but the Pickton investigation has left Court with yet another unsolved death: that of a woman whose skull was found in Mission in 1995, years before the Pickton investigation got underway.

Seven years later, DNA of two bones uncovered at the pig farm – a rib and a heel – was linked to the skull. To this day, no one knows who she was or how she died.

She has yet to be reported missing.

“That one will sit with me,” Court said. “All the evidence suggests she was the victim of homicide. She’s the only one we haven’t identified… In my mind, there’s no doubt she met the same fate as the others.”

And like all the other women whose final days were inextricably linked to Pickton’s pig farm, Court said she, too, is worth the effort it will take to answer those questions.

“Her case will remain open until we determine her identity and that will be one of my greatest challenges moving forward.

“Everyone deserves to die with a name.”

© Copyright alt. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 20

Ont. deputy police chief to work for B.C. inquiry

Ont. deputy police chief to work for B.C. inquiry
Wally Oppal has requested Jennifer Evans, the deputy chief of Ontario's Peel Regional Police, to help with the B.C. missing women inquiry.

Wally Oppal has requested Jennifer Evans, the deputy chief of Ontario's Peel Regional Police, to help with the B.C. missing women inquiry.

Photograph by: ., .

The deputy chief of Ontario's Peel Regional Police Force has been requested to serve as an expert at a B.C. inquiry into missing-women cases.

Jennifer Evans was requested by commissioner Wally Oppal, a former B.C. attorney general, to provide advice into investigations involving missing women.

The inquiry was established to delve into previous and current investigations in the Vancouver area and provincewide, which have been highlighted by the Robert Pickton case.

Evans has similar experience, having been tasked in the review of the 1996 investigation surrounding Paul Bernardo, and through her work with an Ontario database that links repeat offenders to their crimes.

"I am confident that deputy Chief Evans' experience and expert advice will be invaluable during the examination of these tragic murders," Peel police Chief Mike Metcalf said in a statement released Monday.

Oppal is expected to deliver his final inquiry report by the end of 2011.

Friday, December 10

From the archives: She'll miss the reunion

From the archives: She'll miss the reunion

This column by current Province news editor Erik Rolfsen was originally published in the Vancouver Echo on April 4, 1999:

Her hair was longer than I remember, but her eyes, face and skin colour made it pretty clear. It was her.

Sarah deVries was staring out at me from my computer screen, on the Downtown Eastside Vancouver website. She was hunched over a little bit in the photograph, a red and grey track suit hanging loosely from her shoulders, and she looked considerably less happy than she did on a certain spring day in 1983.

On that day, Sarah invited me and a bunch of our friends to her house for pop and chips after school. I can still remember sitting on her West Side front porch, basking happily in the sunshine and the euphoria of knowing that six more months of it lay ahead. The number-one song from that spring, a lament about lost innocence by The Pretenders called "My City was Gone," reverberated from a tiny ghetto blaster.

Sarah, whom I once considered a peer, is now a drug-addicted prostitute who's missing and presumed dead by most.

I had arrived at the Downtown Eastside Vancouver website after Sarah's name caught my eye while I was reading a newspaper story about the 21 women who have gone missing from the Downtown Eastside since 1995. I almost missed it--I was skimming the story, and had to go back a few paragraphs to double-check. I think I speak for a lot of people when I shamefully admit that newspapers are so full of numbers and so full of bad news about the Downtown Eastside that "21 women missing" sometimes doesn't catch my attention any more than "NDP at 21 per cent in the polls" or "Shareef scores 21 against Dallas."

Then along comes the name of your former science partner and you start paying attention to what you're reading.

I have two memories about Sarah that stick in my mind. The first is the sunny afternoon you've heard about. The other happened about six months later at our Grade 9 Halloween dance.

When I was in school, the summer between Grade 8 and 9 was when you lost people. The sweet kids who came out of elementary school would pretty much stay that way until the end of the first year. If anyone was going to turn into something their parents would prefer they didn't, it would happen after Grade 8. Perhaps it's earlier these days. I don't know.

But I remember that first dance of Grade 9, and the sight of Sarah reeling through the hallway in a significantly altered state, half-screaming, half-crying, with a wild look in her eyes as three friends tried desperately to help her to her feet and get her out of there without detection by the principal. She was wearing a jean-jacket and a Mackinaw--a different style than she had worn the previous spring--and the whole scary incident gave me and my friends the sense that, despite her inclusion in our Grade 8 circle, Sarah was headed for adventures in which our middle-class asses wouldn't be joining her.

Turns out we were right.

Sarah was last seen at the corner of Hastings Street and Princess Avenue on April 14, 1998. She had HIV and hepatitis C. Her two children, ages seven and two, live with their grandmother in Ontario. I learned all this from a newspaper story that quoted Sarah's adoptive mother about six weeks after her daughter's disappearance. It included one quote that made me shudder: "This started when she was 12."

I'm not patting myself on the back for being an astute judge of character at the age of 13. Instead I'm wondering, if the writing was on the wall 17 years before Sarah's disappearance, why was nobody able to erase it?

Read more:

The Man Eating Bookworm: ON THE FARM (Robert William Pickton and the Tragic Story of Vancouver's Missing Women) by Stevie Cameron

The Man Eating Bookworm: ON THE FARM (Robert William Pickton and the Tragic Story of Vancouver's Missing Women) by Stevie Cameron

Wednesday, December 8

21 seek standing at missing women inquiry

21 seek standing at missing women inquiry

Twenty-one groups or people have so far applied for official standing at the provincial missing women inquiry, which is expected to start holding hearings in the New Year.

The applicants, who represent a cross section of community organizations, have first been invited to speak at public hearings in Vancouver on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1.

The presentations will allow the groups to explain why they want to participate in the hearings and will permit organizers to ensure their focus falls within the inquiry's terms of reference, commission counsel Art Vertlieb said in a statement Tuesday.

Former attorney-general Wally Oppal, who will preside over the inquiry, has already granted standing -- based on written applications -- to the federal Department of Justice, which represents the RCMP; the City of Vancouver, which represents Vancouver police; and Crown counsel for B.C., Vertlieb said. A full list of the applicants is to be posted on the Commission's website at,he added.

Two public hearings are also scheduled in January, in Vancouver and Prince George, for family members and friends of the missing women. The province appointed the inquiry to examine police investigations, from Jan. 23, 1997 to Feb. 5, 2002, of women who vanished from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.



Canada NewsWire

VANCOUVER, Dec. 8 /CNW/ - The 2011 shortlist for the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction was announced today by Premier Gordon Campbell and Keith Mitchell, chair of the BC Achievement Foundation. The BC Award is the richest non-fiction book prize in the country and the non-fiction counterpart to the Giller Prize for fiction and the Griffin Poetry Prize.

The finalists for the $40,000 prize are Stevie Cameron for "On the Farm: Robert William Pickton and the Tragic Story of Vancouver's Missing Women," James FitzGerald for "What Disturbs Our Blood: A Son's Quest to Redeem the Past," Charles Foran for "Mordecai: The Life & Times," and John Vaillant for "The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival."

"The finalists for this year's award demonstrate the talent and diversity of non-fiction writing in Canada today," said Premier Campbell, a director of the BC Achievement Foundation. "This award is British Columbia's opportunity to highlight the important contribution Canada's best non-fiction writers make to our nation's culture and discourse."

"We thank the jury members for their painstaking effort and time as they read the 151 submitted books, narrowed the submissions to a list of 10, and decided upon this excellent shortlist," said Mitchell.

The shortlist was chosen by jury members Alma Lee, founder of the Vancouver Writers and Readers Festival and Writers' Union of Canada; Philip Marchand, author, book columnist, and magazine writer; and Noah Richler, award-winning author and broadcaster. Ms. Lee and Mr. Marchand will select the winner that will be announced January 31, 2011 at a special presentation ceremony in Vancouver.

The finalists are described in the following citations from the jury:

Stevie Cameron
On the Farm: Robert William Pickton and the Tragic Story of Vancouver's Missing Women
The story of Robert William Pickton and his chilling slaughter of scores of "missing" Vancouver women went unnoticed for so long that it became, beyond a gruesome murder case and the longest and most expensive criminal investigation ever conducted in Canada, a trial that put police authorities on trial for their seeming disinterest in the city's less fortunate.

In On the Farm, Stevie Cameron, one of the best investigative journalists in the country, has applied her keen mind and scrutiny to the Pickton case and fashioned a masterly narrative that brings not only the lives of the victims and sleuthing of investigators to the fore, but also the perpetrator's upbringing—a strange, Deliverance-like childhood that seems of another world. Indeed, there are all sorts of ways in which, without this book, Canadians might have been able to relegate this terrible and upsetting story to another world—and leave it there, rendering the women "missing" a second time. Cameron's book has prevented this.

James FitzGerald
What Disturbs Our Blood: A Son's Quest to Redeem the Past
The emotional chilliness of early twentieth century Toronto is blended with a tragic story of brilliant scientists and physicians doomed to madness, in journalist James FitzGerald's memoir, What Disturbs Our Blood. In this quest, rendered with poetic intensity of feeling, FitzGerald investigates the suicide of his grandfather, a titan of public health in the history of Toronto, and its effect on his father, another distinguished medical man, and on the author himself. Never maudlin or melodramatic, FitzGerald's book is a masterpiece of its genre, the chronicle of family secrets unearthed and healing attained.

Charles Foran
Mordecai: The Life & Times
In the preface to his superb biography, Mordecai: The Life and Times, Charles Foran writes, "Lucky the biographer presented with such complexity in his subject. Luckier still if that character reveals itself with equal force in the work and in the life." Foran indeed is lucky, but the shade of Mordecai Richler, it turns out, is equally happy to have a biographer who knows what to do with his good fortune. Literary journalist and fiction writer Charles Foran has written a lucid, eloquent, judicious book on one of Canada's greatest novelists. It is thoroughly researched, but Foran never allows detail to overwhelm his memorable narrative.

John Vaillant
The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival
The Tiger by John Vaillant is a story that takes place in an ancient and remote part of the world - the Primorye Territory in Russia's Far East. This isolated place is close to the Chinese border and is home to the Arum tiger. There are many human players in this tale but the tiger—especially one that is out for vengeance —is the focus. This is a chilling adventure and Vaillant's description of the locale and the people who live there brings them to life; a life of dire poverty created when logging was closed down in the region. This is a page-turner that in the end brings us to understand the tiger, probably the most intelligent super-predator in the world. Superbly written and highly enlightening, this is a gripping story about man in conflict with nature.

The BC National Award is an annual national prize established by the British Columbia Achievement Foundation, an independent foundation endowed by the Province of British Columbia in 2003 to celebrate excellence in the arts, humanities, enterprise, and community service.

For more information on the award and this year's finalists, please call 604 261-9777 or visit Downloadable images of book covers and authors' photos for this year's shortlist are also available at this URL.

Read more:

Hearings Set for Those Wanting Standing at Missing Women's Inquiry - Opinion 250 - News for Northern and Central Interior of British Columbia, Canada

Hearings Set for Those Wanting Standing at Missing Women's Inquiry - Opinion 250 - News for Northern and Central Interior of British Columbia, Canada

By 250 News

Wednesday, December 08, 2010 01:23 PM

Prince George, B.C.- The Missing Women Inquiry will hold two days of submissions for those who want standing or funding to be part of the inquiry. The hearings are set for January 31st and February 1st and will be held in Vancouver.
Senior Commission Counsel, Art Vertlieb, QC, says 21 applications for standing have been received.
“The applicants, who represent a cross section of community organizations, will now be invited to make oral presentations before Commissioner Wally Oppal,” said Mr. Vertlieb. “This is an important step as the Commission continues its work.”
A list of the applicants has been posted on the Commission’s website –
The hearings will take place at 12th floor, 1125 Howe Street from 10:00 a.m. ‑ 12:30 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. ‑ 4:00 p.m.
Based on written applications, Mr. Oppal has already granted standing to the Department of Justice (representing the RCMP), the City of Vancouver (representing the Vancouver Police Department) and Crown Counsel for the province of British Columbia.
Mr. Vertlieb said the purpose of the oral hearings is to allow interested parties to make further representations in support of their written applications to participate in the inquiry.
“While we want the inquiry to be as inclusive as possible, we need to ensure that participants are connected to the issues we will be examining in a way that will allow them to contribute to our work and help us address our terms of reference,” said Mr. Vertlieb.
The Commission was appointed by the British Columbia provincial government to inquire into the conduct of police investigations of women reported missing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside between January 23, 1997 and February 5, 2002. The Commission’s terms of reference also allow it to inquire into the investigation of missing women and suspected multiple murders throughout the province.
In addition, the Commission will examine the decision by the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch on January 27, 1998 to stop legal proceedings against Robert William Pickton on charges of attempted murder, assault with a weapon, forcible confinement and aggravated assault.
The Commission has already announced it will hold two forums in advance of the actual inquiry.

A community engagement forum is set to take place in Prince George Friday, January 21. The forums have been called to hear from residents of B.C. who have been impacted by the tragedy of the missing and murdered women. The Prince George Forum will be held from 4:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. at the Prince George Civic Centre. The Vancouver forum is set for January 19th and will be held from 4:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. at the Japanese Language School, 487 Alexander Street in Vancouver.

Tuesday, December 7

B.C. missing women inquiry to hear applications from 21 groups - The Globe and Mail

B.C. missing women inquiry to hear applications from 21 groups - The Globe and Mail
Vancouver— The Canadian Press

Monday, December 6

Vancouver police launch program to combat violence against women - The Globe and Mail

Vancouver police launch program to combat violence against women - The Globe and Mail

Calls for aboriginal woman to lead B.C. missing women inquiry dominate public forum | Vancouver, Canada |

Calls for aboriginal woman to lead B.C. missing women inquiry dominate public forum | Vancouver, Canada |
By Yolande Cole,

Calls for an aboriginal woman to lead the upcoming provincial inquiry into missing women dominated a public forum in Vancouver today (December 5).

Audience members at a forum on violence against women in the Downtown Eastside voiced concerns about next year’s missing women commission of inquiry, to be led by former B.C. attorney-general Wally Oppal.

“We’re concerned about a couple of things,” Fay Blaney of the Aboriginal Women’s Action Network told the Straight following the event. “One is that Oppal is heading it – that’s a serious concern because we see it as a conflict of interest. This is a guy that didn’t want any inquiry to happen, and now he’s in there, and the second concern is the absolute lack of consultation with the aboriginal community on what the inquiry should be looking at.”

Vancouver activist and Walk4Justice organizer Gladys Radek said families should be included in the inquiry process.

“Right now at this time, we feel that the families are not being included in any of the decision-making for this public inquiry,” Radek told audience members at the forum.

“We feel that it’s important that the families are the ones that we’re speaking about.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, the president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, supported calls from several speakers at the forum for an aboriginal woman to lead the inquiry.

“We have to remove Oppal as quickly as possible, and replace him with somebody more appropriate, and we have to broaden the terms of the reference, and it has to be through a consultation process that never happened”, Phillip told the Straight. “It’s got to happen soon.”

Oppal, who also attended the forum at the Aboriginal Friendship Centre, defended the inquiry process in an interview with the Straight following the event.

“The families are involved in a major way,” he said. “We’ve had a number of lawyers who have come to us – they’re going to seek standing on behalf of the families, and I want the families to get involved.”

Oppal dismissed claims that he was originally against an inquiry.

“The only time I opposed the inquiry was when the trial was going on,” he added. “You cannot have a trial under our law and an inquiry at the same time.”

The forum was hosted by MP Libby Davies, MLA Jenny Kwan and Vancouver city councillor Ellen Woodsworth.

“There has been so much grief and tragedy in this neighbourhood, about what’s happened to the missing women, about how the situation was ignored for so long,” Davies said. “For too long it’s been swept under the rug and ignored.”

Speakers at the event also called for the causes of violence against women to be addressed, and for the abolition of prostitution.

“It seems like the inquiry is going to be looking at largely the police...and there isn’t really any looking at the root causes that bring aboriginal women into being in the Downtown Eastside, being in situations of dire poverty. And people here spoke about child apprehension and our experiences in residential school – all of those things are not going to be even considered,” Blaney told the Straight

“We need abolition of prostitution first and foremost, and to look at our circumstance and how aboriginal women are such vulnerable citizens in a rich country like Canada.”

Sunday, December 5

Economic hard times cast shadow over women -

Economic hard times cast shadow over women -

December 06, 2010

Eileen Morrow


Dean Rohrer Dec. 6. 2010

Dean Rohrer/Newsart

Today is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada. Typically on this day each year, there is a lot of remembrance. Action is another matter.

Fears are that this trend may continue, if not increase, now that governments are flagging austerity at every level. That would be dangerous because research and experience show that violence against women rises during tough economic times.

The observance of that terrible day in 1989 when Marc Lepine stalked and murdered 14 women at Montreal’s l’École Polytechnique is, regrettably, an opportunity to keep ongoing violence against women on the public policy agenda.

Political representatives countywide wear the symbolic rose button or white ribbon to show their support, but they don’t often announce significant public funding or action to mirror the anger and angst of the vigils or the everyday reality of violence in the lives of women and girls.

During a recession, the fear is that violence against women will rise while meaningful action on the issue will fall. That worry is well-placed.

The media have already reported increasing calls by women to crisis lines and police. Catholic Family Services in Durham region reported a 24 per cent increase in referrals for domestic violence in the last three months of 2008. The Canadian Mental Health Association in London reported a rise in domestic violence in the spring of 2009. Brockville reported a 100 per cent increase in domestic violence calls to police during that period.

In the spring of 2009, stories about a stunning increase in calls to shelters in Calgary, where the recession hit hard, were reported in newspapers across Canada — a 200 per cent increase in one year; a 300 per cent increase in the month before the stories ran.

A spot survey just conducted by the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses bears out the continuing trend toward increasing calls for help, despite predictions that the economic outlook is positive and recovery has started.

A comparison of service delivery in the years 2007 and 2010 in 15 women’s shelters across the province shows that requests for support have increased, albeit not as dramatically has those of Alberta.

Crisis calls increased by almost 15 per cent between the two years; admissions of women and children increased by 20 per cent. Shelters had to “turn away” 44 per cent more women and children in 2010 than in 2007 because they were full. In smaller towns with fewer services, the shelters faced double the demand of larger cities.

Each year, the women’s shelter association gathers the names of women and children murdered in situations where an intimate partner is either charged or commits suicide. In 2008 and 2009, the total was 16 for each year. In 2010 (up to the present) it is 21.

Admittedly, the numbers are not scientific and cannot be decisively linked to the recession, but they are troubling. Still more troubling, however, is the possibility that governments will overlook the need to increase support for women rather than to freeze or lower to meet the demands of austerity.

We have been there.

In the Mike Harris era of the mid-90s, cuts to women’s services and broad social programs such as social assistance and housing, forced many women to stay in abusive relationships. Murders of women increased in Canada, primarily in Ontario. Services in Ontario are still struggling to recover.

The mid-90s was a time of growing government restraint both federally and provincially, somewhat like today but far less acute. The global economy had not yet failed.

Nationally, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been clear that national priorities are fixed on cost-cutting and reducing the $45.4 billion federal deficit. The Province of Ontario also has an $18.7 billion dollar deficit to address.

Both federally and provincially, all political parties are in election campaign mode. The timing of the federal election is a guessing game; some are guessing spring of next year. The Ontario election is fixed for Oct. 6, 2011.

As a result, no one knows which political party will be responsible for ultimately guiding the country and the province back to economic stability. What is clear, however, is that right now is the time to raise issues of women’s human and equity rights, not when an election is finally called.

In the noise of election campaigning that is now a daily exercise for politicians, it is hard for women and children to be heard above the din. It seems harder still, sadly, to make the case that their lives should trump the HST, hydro billing or gasoline prices in the political and public discourse.

Public policy that primarily serves cost-cutting and austerity, however, may ultimately result in more violence against women and their children at a time when government should protect the human and equity rights threatened by massive economic shifts.

For Dec. 6 to be truly meaningful, it must be observed not just with remembering women, but with promising not to forget them when governments divvy up the tax dollars paid by women and men for the programs and equality measures needed to stop violence against women.

VPD deputy chief clarifies his comments

VPD deputy chief clarifies his comments

Re: Lead Pickton investigator breaks silence, Nov. 27

I am writing to support Inspector Don Adam's defence of the extraordinary work of his Missing Women Task Force (Evenhanded) and to clarify comments attributed to me that give the appearance of conflict between my report on behalf of the VPD and the work of the team Inspector Adam led.

As I said upon the release of the VPD report into the Missing Woman/Pickton investigation, "While [the Review] includes the involvement of the RCMP during those years, it does not deal with the joint investigation called Project Evenhanded that took over the Pickton investigation.

" . . . The Team Commander of Project Evenhanded, Inspector Don Adam, was one of very few people anywhere in Canada who could have led that incredibly complex and large investigation to its successful conclusion.

"Not only did he have the very onerous responsibility as leader, he stepped in to the interrogation chair to obtain key admissions from Pickton. That team's work was extraordinary."

The story in The Vancouver Sun suggests that I was critical of the work of Project Evenhanded because I had written, "The investigation of Pickton before February 2002 was inadequate and a failure of major case management."

That sentence was clearly directed toward the Coquitlam RCMP's failings after the summer of 1999, not Evenhanded, which wasn't formed until 2001 and didn't investigate Pickton until 2002.

The VPD looks forward to clarification of these and related issues at the Public Inquiry, and to the release of the RCMP's official internal review to complement ours, so that police in B.C. and elsewhere can learn from previous errors to improve our collective practices, and so that such tragic circumstances are not repeated.

Doug LePard

Deputy chief constable,

Vancouver Police Department