Saturday, December 20

Hales guilty of murder


More than 10 years after the disappearance of Daleen Bosse, Douglas Hales has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of the "caring mother" and aspiring teacher.

Photograph by: Gord Waldner, The StarPhoenix

Douglas Hales is going to prison for the 2004 murder of Daleen Bosse, a crime he didn’t speak about until meeting undercover police officers four years later.

A Saskatoon judge convicted Hales, 36, of second-degree murder in the death of Bosse, a 25-year-old university student and married mother of one child. Hales admitted to burning her body and was also convicted of offering an indignity to a body.

In Court of Queen’s Bench Wednesday, Justice Gerald Allbright sentenced Hales to life in prison with no eligibility of parole for 15 years. Hales’s lawyer said they will appeal the conviction.

Bosse’s loved ones, who were in court nearly every day during the trial earlier this year, quietly celebrated the conviction and sentencing with hugs and tears. They also made sure Bosse is remembered as a loving mother and aspiring educator.

“She was beautiful. She was full of life. She was everything,” Edna Bignell, Bosse’s aunt, told reporters outside court.

“She had happiness, joy. Now she doesn’t have that. It’s gone. He took her life because he figured she was just another Indian woman and she didn’t count. She counted to everybody.”

She said the trial was difficult for the family, but they were glad to see Hales convicted.

“He deserves what he gets. I hope someday he feels the pain we all feel ... He hurt the whole family. He ripped us apart and now we’re trying hard to mend. The pain is like a knife stuck in your chest,” Bignell said.

The Bosse and Muskego families waited, first to see if the young mother would return home after she vanished on May 18, 2004, and then waited for Saskatoon police to treat the case as more than a missing person investigation.

When police charged Hales with murder in Aug. 2008 after an undercover operation during which he led undercover RCMP to Bosse’s remains outside Saskatoon, the family waited to learn what had happened to her.

After numerous delays, the trial start in May and had almost finished when the Supreme Court of Canada released a decision that called into question the admissibility of evidence gathered through “Mr. Big” stings, in which undercover officers pose as members of a criminal organization to gain the trust of a suspect and elicit a confession, as was done in Hales’s case.

The decision caused a further delay in the conclusion of the trial.

“We have been waiting 10 long years for justice for Daleen and her daughter,” said sister-in-law Monica Bosse in a victim impact statement she read before sentencing.

In his decision, Allbright said we might never know exactly what happened the night Bosse died, but he it was likely Hales either strangled her or killed her in the fire, if she hadn’t already died.

“We’ll never know if there was one last breath in Daleen,” Allbright told court.

Crown prosecutor Matthew Miazga said RCMP and Saskatoon police should be commended for setting up the Mr. Big sting.

“Had it not been for their efforts ... this case would probably have never been solved and Daleen may have remained a missing person today,” Miazga told reporters.

He said the decision bolsters the case for continued use of Mr. Big stings.

“As long as you have a good solid set of facts and the police conduct themselves appropriately, I think the Crown and the police can continue to use Mr. Big operations with success,” he said. “Generally, speaking it’s a positive experience for the future of that technique.”

Hales maintained Bosse died of alcohol poisoning and he burned her body in a panic so he wouldn’t be charged with murder. In several recorded conversations with undercover officers and to police after his arrest, Hales said he fatally strangled Bosse after they met at a Saskatoon nightclub where he worked.

Defence lawyer Bob Hrycan said his appeal will likely be based on the Supreme Court’s ruling, which tightened evidence rules for Mr. Big sting cases.

“Basically, he was tried based on a set of rules which were shelved by the Supreme Court of Canada before the verdict on this case was rendered,” Hrycan told reporters.

“That has never happened in my experience, where the playing field changes that dramatically. It happened here, and obviously has effects in terms of the verdict.”

Allbright said in his decision that the new rules were applied and Hales’s confessions are reliable, partly because he led undercover officers to Bosse’s previously undiscovered remains.

A second-degree murder conviction carries a life sentence and minimum 10 years of parole ineligibility, which Allbright bumped to 15 years in part because of the level of violence involved in the crime.

Hales told court before his sentencing that he accepts responsibility.

“I don’t expect anyone to forgive me. I don’t deserve it,” he said.

© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix

Saturday, December 6

Montreal massacre remembrance a bitter reminder of how little has changed

Violence against women again in the public consciousness with attacks on Winnipeg teens, Ghomeshi allegations


Vancouver Mayor Gregor Roberston was among the first to join the YWCA campaign to stop violence against women.

Twenty-five years ago, an armed man walked into Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique, separated the students by gender and then started shooting.

Marc Lepine killed 14 women and injured 10 other women and four men before killing himself. His suicide note was a misogynist rant that blamed feminists for ruining his life.

Among the national debates that it sparked was one about violence against women.

It’s a debate that’s never really gone away. But it has recently flared once more with sexual abuse allegations and then charges laid against former CBC star Jian Ghomeshi, allegations of sexual harassment by members of Parliament and continued calls for a national inquiry into the ongoing murders and disappearances of aboriginal women and girls.

If anything, today’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women provides a bitter reminder of how glacially slow and incredibly difficult it is to change attitudes that have been embedded for centuries.

What’s chilling is that these attitudes remain embedded in the very institutions that should have been leading the change — the national broadcaster, Parliament and the RCMP, which has a raft of civil suits against it from female officers alleging sexual assault and harassment by their male colleagues.

These attitudes pervade other institutions as well, including universities and colleges where female students are now the majority in many faculties (although engineering remains an exception).

Yet it was only two years ago during frosh week, first-year students at several universities across the country were encouraged to sing songs about the rape of young girls. Among other things, it prompted the University of British Columbia to institute an “awareness raising” program as if somehow violence against women was something new.

But what can get lost in this remembrance and the discussions prompted by the recent headlines is that these educated women were supposed to have been the least vulnerable to attack.

And while it’s the murders of 14 women that prompted a national day intended to push for action on violence against women, it’s aboriginal women and girls who are at the greatest risk of violence.

More than 1,180 cases of murdered and missing women have been documented over the last 30 years. Some of those women were victims of serial killer Robert Pickton. Some have disappeared along British Columbia’s Highway of Tears.

Two years ago, the B.C. missing women commission inquiry detailed critical police failures regarding the Pickton investigation.

It also pointed out that there are deeper, systemic issues of gender and race inequality and a lack of services that left women so vulnerable.

The violence goes on and none are at greater risk than girls. A 2011 study by UBC researcher Jody Jacob found that 75 per cent of aboriginal girls under 18 have been sexually abused. Statistics Canada data suggests children are as much as five times more likely to be victims of sexual assault than women.

In November, a 16-year-old was beaten so badly under a bridge in Winnipeg that she was left for dead by a man who allegedly went on to sexually assault another woman that same night. Taken to hospital in critical condition, she is now recovering.

In August, the battered body of another Winnipeg teen was pulled from another river.

But it’s not just that the violence continues. It’s that there seems to be so little justice.

The YWCA Canada has illustrated the cycle using data pulled from two different Statistics Canada sources.

The highest estimate is that there are 460,000 sexual assaults every year.

Out of every 1,000, only 33 are reported to police. Of those 33, charges are laid in only 12 cases. Of those 12 cases, only six are prosecuted and only three result in convictions.

How can girls and women have faith in the judicial system?

Of course, there have been positive changes.

A quarter of a century ago, it was rare to see male role models like professional athletes speaking out against violence against women.

Yet for three years, the B.C. Lions football team led by quarterback Travis Lulay has been part of the Be More Than a Bystander campaign, which aims to end violence against women by educating coaches, athletes and schoolchildren.

This week, the YWCA in Vancouver began to reach out to find more male allies with its ISayNoTo campaign, challenging high-profile men in the community to post photos of themselves on social media holding signs that say “I say no to violence against women.”

Among the first to sign on were Mayor Gregor Robertson and Police Chief Jim Chu.

Yet it’s almost certain that the majority who mark today’s anniversary of the Montreal massacre will be women.

Violence against women remains a “women’s issue.” Except that it isn’t and really never has been.

It’s a men’s issue. Because when it comes to violence against women, men are the ones who must stop it.

Follow me: @DaphneBramham

Click here to report a typo or visit

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Friday, December 5

B.C. is much safer for vulnerable women than in the predatory days of Pickton, says attorney general


Among the recommendations from Wally Oppal's inquiry into B.C.'s missing women was a shuttle bus along the so-called 'Highway of Tears,' where many women have been murdered or gone missing since the 1970s.

Photograph by: CP files, THE CANADIAN PRESS

VICTORIA — Attorney General Suzanne Anton says British Columbia is a safer place for women compared to when serial killer Robert Pickton was prowling Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

She pointed to a report Thursday that states the Liberal government has taken action on 75 per cent of the recommendations made two years ago after a public inquiry into Pickton’s murders.

“I do believe B.C. is a safer place now than it was 15 years ago when these tragedies were unfolding,” Anton said. “We do have supports for vulnerable women. There’s been very dramatic steps forward.”

Pickton was convicted in 2007 of killing six women and sentenced to life in prison, although he admitted to killing 49 women and the DNA or remains of 33 women were found on his pig farm in Port Coquitlam. Twenty murder charges against Pickton were stayed following his conviction.

Former Liberal cabinet minister Wally Oppal, who headed a public inquiry into the Pickton case, made 63 recommendations in December 2012, including funding a 24-hour centre in the Downtown Eastside for sex workers and starting a transportation service along the so-called Highway of Tears from Prince George to Prince Rupert, where women have gone missing.

Anton said the actions taken by the government since Oppal’s report are protecting vulnerable women. They include legislation that police help find missing people sooner.

She said communication and safety improvements along the Highway of Tears continue to be addressed.

At least 17 women, many of them aboriginal, have vanished or been murdered in the area along Highway 16 and the adjacent Highways 97 and 5 since the 1970s. Most of the cases remain unsolved, though investigators don’t believe a single killer is responsible.

Much of the discussion about the Highway of Tears has focused on a lack of affordable transportation connecting isolated communities, which has led some women to resort to hitchhiking.

In 2006, First Nations leaders released a report recommending a shuttle bus along the highway.

Anton said cellphone service along 160 kilometres of the highway has been expanded and programs to better inform people about transportation options in the area have been improved.

But Opposition New Democrat women’s critic Maurine Karagianis said the Liberals have stalled on providing a dedicated shuttle bus service for the highway, which was one of Oppal’s most urgent recommendations.

“Women are still forced to hitchhike to get to work, to get to the doctor, to get to the social worker, and until that’s resolved the government will have failed,” she said.

Karagianis said Anton’s comments about improvements for women’s services face the grim reality that B.C. is in the midst of one of its deadliest years for domestic violence.

So far, there have been 20 deaths due to domestic violence in B.C., including 18 women, one man and one child — triple last year’s numbers, she said. Another 11 women were seriously injured.

“The reality for women who are fleeing violence is there are very few resources, far too few places to go,” Karagianis said. “We are seeing too many women being forced into homelessness, far too many families that are now homeless. That’s a disgrace in the 21st century.”

Anton said domestic violence is a deep concern of the government, which has often stated it wants a violence-free B.C. where women and children are safe and women have the supports they require.

“It’s top of mind for me,” she said. “It’s a terrible situation when there is domestic violence. It’s terrible for the family. It’s terrible for children. It’s terrible for communities.”

© Copyright (c)

Thursday, December 4

B.C. says action taken on 75 per cent of missing women report recommendations


Highway 16 between Prince Rupert and Prince George, known as The Highway of Tears, where many women have vanished or been found murdered over a period of more than 40 years. B.C.'s government says it has taken action on 75 per cent of the recommendations made two years ago after a public inquiry into the Robert Pickton serial killings.

Photograph by: Ian Smith, Vancouver Sun

VICTORIA - B.C.'s government says it has taken action on 75 per cent of the recommendations made two years ago after a public inquiry into the Robert Pickton serial killings.

Attorney General Suzanne Anton says the actions are helping vulnerable women and include expanding cellphone service along the so-called Highway of Tears, a remote stretch of northern highway where women and girls have disappeared.

Anton says the government has also passed legislation that helps police find missing people sooner and some of the children of missing and murdered women have already received $50,000 compensation payments.

Pickton was convicted in 2007 of the second-degree murders of six women and was sentenced to life in prison, although he admitted to killing 49 women and the DNA or remains of 33 were found on his farm.

A commission of inquiry into the Pickton case made 63 recommendations in December 2012, including funding a 24-hour centre in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside for sex workers and starting a transportation service along the Highway of Tears.

Anton says the government continues to work on improving transportation options along that stretch of highway.

Tuesday, November 25

Canadian documentary ‘The Exhibition’ wins at International Emmy Awards

The feature documentary won in the arts programming category at the gala in New York
CBC News Posted: Nov 25, 2014 4:09 PM ET Last Updated: Nov 25, 2014 4:09 PM ET
the exhibition
Canadians got global recognition at the International Emmy Awards in New York Monday night with the documentary The Exhibition winning the arts programming category.
The feature documentary, directed by Damon Vignale, traces the story of Vancouver artist, Pamela Masik, and the backlash she received while trying to mount a large-scale exhibition of paintings of the victims of serial killer Robert Pickton.

The Forgotten Project - Pamela Masik

Thursday, November 6

Missing: The Documentary [2014] (Directed & Narrated by: Young JIbwe) [AMGVEVO] - YouTube

Missing: The Documentary [2014] (Directed & Narrated by: Young JIbwe) [AMGVEVO] - YouTube:

'via Blog this'

Time for action, not inquiry: Missing Women Commissioner



The head of the B.C. Missing Women Commission of Inquiry says action is needed before the government spends millions of dollars on a national inquiry into murdered and missing indigenous women.

In Wally Oppal's opening remarks at Thursday's Murdered and Missing Women: Lessons Learned workshop in Winnipeg, he said action on poverty, addiction and homelessness issues within the aboriginal community is the real work that needs to be done, instead of an inquiry.

"Let's start dealing those things, we could spend two years and $15 million on another inquiry or we could take that time and the $15 million and go correct all the ills in a particular reserve, (one) that needs running water, that needs homes," he said during a break from the workshop.

Oppal isn't opposed to inquiries; the lawyer, former judge and former B.C Attorney General has worked on five during his decades-long career, including taking the lead on the missing women inquiry into serial killer Robert Pickton in British Columbia.

"I am saying it because of the work that I have done ... my comments are not political, I speak from the heart and I believe this," he said. "I think inquiries are good because it gives people a chance to be heard ... but as far as what has gone on with murdered and missing women, we know what's happened."

He outlined a few areas which he believes could help aboriginal women in a more hands-on manner, including education to better equip them to enter the workforce, adding more resources to aboriginal schools and empowering the women within the schools.

"We know it is through neglect, through society not caring about the poverty and the drug addiction and the homelessness," he said

"The reason I don't think we need another inquiry is that I think it is time for action."

This story will be updated.

Friday, October 3

Canadian Media Can't Say This Alleged Rape Victim's Name, Even Though Her Family Wants Them To

Canadian Media Can't Say This Alleged Rape Victim's Name, Even Though Her Family Wants Them To:

A Canadian law prevents the press from naming Rehtaeh Parsons, the Canadian teen who killed herself after she was cyberbullied following an alleged gang rape. 

Her family says it protects the system - not Rehtaeh

'via Blog this'

Saturday, September 27

As murders and disappearances mount, Canadian women ask: ‘Am I next?’

After 15-year-old Tina Fontaine’s body was pulled from a river, Canadians have confronted a crisis that one judge calls ‘a sociological issue’ surrounding the nation’s aboriginal people

Lyndsie Bourgon, Saturday 27 September 2014

highway 16

Nestled near the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba’s Red River and Assiniboine meet at a point called the Forks, not far from where the body of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine was pulled from the water this August. They found her stuffed inside a plastic bag.

Fontaine was aboriginal, from the Sagkeeng First Nation, and had been living with her aunt and uncle on a reserve before she ran away to downtown Winnipeg to see her mother. The discovery of her body reignited a national conversation about missing and murdered aboriginal women across Canada.

Fontaine’s name has become synonymous with the push for a public inquiry into the astonishing numbers of aboriginal women who are murdered or go missing in Canada each year. In February, Loretta Saunders, a 26-year-old Inuk university student, went missing in Nova Scotia. She had been writing a thesis about violence against aboriginal women – her body was found along a highway median in New Brunswick.

After the recovery of Fontaine’s body, Saunders’ cousin, Holly Jarrett, logged on to Twitter and began using the hashtag #AmINext, in part to advocate for a public inquiry into the fates of the missing women. Soon, thousands of women were sharing photos of themselves holding signs asking “#AmINext”, and Jarrett had received photos and support from some 3,600 women.

Over the past 30 years, 1,200 aboriginal women have been recorded murdered or missing in Canada. Even more have likely vanished unnoticed. Stories of bodies found and loved ones lost have become so commonplace that the public has casually adopted the term “Highway of Tears” to refer to a stretch of Highway 16 between the northern towns of Prince George and Prince Rupert, in British Columbia. Along that road, 18 women (most of them aboriginal) have disappeared, their cases unsolved. The blunt message of the #AmINext campaign is not surprising – for many young women, they really could be.

Maryanne Pearce, a federal civil servant in Ottawa, used her PhD at the University of Ottawa’s law school to create a public database of cases involving missing and murdered women. She says that when she first heard about #AmINext, “it sent a chill down my spine”.

Pearce was immediately reminded of Sarah de Vries, a victim of the serial killer Robert Pickton, who in 2007 was convicted of murdering six women (though accused of murdering close to 50) from Vancouver’s troubled and notorious downtown east side. In 1995, three years before she disappeared, De Vries wrote in a now-public journal entry: “Am I next? Is he watching me now? Stalking me like a predator and its prey. Waiting, waiting for some perfect spot, time or my stupid mistake. How does one choose a victim? Good question. If I knew that, I would never get snuffed.”

Twenty-six of the women accused Robert Pickton is accused of having murdered; Sarah de Vries is in the bottom left of the third row.Fifteen of the 26 women accused Robert Pickton is accused of having murdered; Sarah de Vries is in the bottom left of the third row. Photograph: Reuters

In August, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was on his annual tour of the North when he was asked to respond to the push for an inquiry. He stressed that the death of Tina Fontaine should be considered a criminal matter, as opposed to a “sociological phenomenon”, and therefore no inquiry would be called. Reaction was swift and outraged, further outraged by the fact that the prime minister made his remarks while standing on Inuk land.

“We might sit there and clap because you’re the leader,” Jarrett says. “But that really hit a sore spot.”

In the weeks following, a judge in Prince George sentenced a 25-year-old man to life in prison for killing four women, two of whom were aboriginal. In his sentencing, the judge noted that high numbers of murdered aboriginal women was “a sociological issue – one that arises from, among other things, a high-risk lifestyle. It is something that must be dealt with.”

Canada is no stranger to inquiry when it comes to its treatment of First Nations people. The country only recently undertook the massive task of determining what actually went on in its notorious residential schools for aboriginal children – a long, painful initiative to confront an era that neither the state nor many aboriginal people particularly want to relive. Even Jarrett admits that inquiries are costly in both time and money, and do not always produce satisfactory results.

Those pushing for a formal inquiry into the deaths and disappearances of so many aboriginal women say the process would prove to the government and general public that systemic poverty, crime, abuse and racism form the backbone of violence against the group. But it is also true that over the past 30 years, very little change has followed the dozens of studies compiled. Earlier this month, for example, Public Safety Canada released a study that linked high numbers of aboriginal women in the sex industry to poverty, drug addiction and mental health problems.

“I don’t know that we really need the government to tell us that there’s a tragedy going on,” says Sarah Deer, an aboriginal legal scholar who was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship this year for her work on aboriginal women and domestic abuse. “But it’s sometimes necessary to get reform, to get folks in power to acknowledge something. It’s sad that they won’t just listen, that their stories are not sufficient.”

Canada’s last federal budget committed $25m over five years to address issues of crime against aboriginal women. That does not include a formal inquiry process, but it does allocate money to creating a national DNA database, which would help police match found bones to missing women. The emphasis on law enforcement, however, does not satisfy those thinking of the scope of crimes past and the apparent pattern of violence.

“We can’t just throw money at justice initiatives,” says Jarrett. “So we let the girls go missing or be murdered and then we’ll put the offenders in jail … and [then] spend more money on keeping them there than we would on an inquiry?”

The intricacies of the issue are so vast that they are hard to ignore – violence and drug use amongst both men and women in Canada’s aboriginal populations is inextricably tied to poverty and oppression. First Nations people in Canada represents about 4% of the population, but about 23% of the prison population is aboriginal. Moreover, the disappearances are not limited by gender; databases have also been set up to track the number of missing aboriginal men.

All the while the human cost grows. Family members cling to paling hopes and police chase fleeting leads. Women, teenagers and girls vanish, and in many cases the only clues comprise bones and bodies clues left behind in woods, rivers and on the side of the road.

Tina Fontaine was cremated. Her ashes were spread over the grave of her father, who was murdered on the Sagkeeng Reserve.

Monday, July 7

Operation Passageway beta test for NamUs

Operation Passageway

Beta Test

Todd Matthews

Todd Matthews

, Yahoo Contributor Network

May 8, 2011

  • Operation Passageway

    - Operation Passageway. Beta test site for NamUs , where volunteers entered the initial missing persons cases. Later used to launch NamUs MP (Missing Persons)

OP was the prototype and initial data source for the current missing persons database. (NamUs)

It launched in August 2007 and completed in December 2008.

List of original team members (all volunteers) that completed the beta trial called Operation Passageway.

Kimberly Bruklis

Jennifer Cook

Terri Cook

Peter Duffy

Ra'Vae Edwards

Tina Glass

Laura Hood

Dillan Matthews

Lori Matthews

Todd Matthews

Wayne Leng

Sue Overton

Silvia Pettem

Kenna Quinet

Rose Sacchetti

Vickie Siedow

Tami Wilkerson

ALABAMA --- Todd Matthews
ALASKA --- Todd Matthews
ARIZONA --- Tina Glass
ARKANSAS -- Laura Hood
CALIFORNIA -- Wayne Leng & Vickie Siedow
COLORADO -- Silvia Pettem
CONNECTICUT -- Todd Matthews
DELAWARE --- Todd Matthews
FLORIDA -- Rose Sacchetti
GEORGIA -- Jennifer Cook

--- Dillan Matthews
IDAHO --- Lori Matthews
ILLINOIS --- Kenna Quinet
INDIANA --- Kenna Quinet

-- Todd Matthews
KANSAS --- Dillan Matthews
KENTUCKY --- Lori Matthews
LOUISIANA -- Todd Matthews

--- Lori Matthews
MARYLAND --- Todd Matthews
MASSACHUSETTS --- Dillan Matthews
MICHIGAN --- Terri Cook
MINNESOTA --- Lori Matthews
MISSISSIPPI --- Todd Matthews
MISSOURI -- Ra'Vae Edwards
MONTANA --- Todd Matthews
NEBRASKA --- Patty Beeken
NEVADA --- Lori Matthews
NEW HAMPSHIRE --- Todd Matthews
NEW JERSEY --- Dillan Matthews
NEW MEXICO -- Jennifer Cook
NEW YORK --- Tami Wilkerson
NORTH CAROLINA - Dillan Matthews
NORTH DAKOTA --- Todd Matthews
OHIO -- Peter Duffy

--- Patty Beeken

-- Terri Cook
PENNSYLVANIA -- - Tami Wilkerson
RHODE ISLAND --- Todd Matthews

-- Dillan Matthews
SOUTH DAKOTA --- Lori Matthews
TENNESSEE --- Todd Matthews
TEXAS --- Todd Matthews
UTAH --- Patty Beeken / Todd Matthews
VERMONT --- Todd Matthews
VIRGINIA --- Todd Matthews
WASHINGTON --- Sue Overton

--- Dillan Matthews
WISCONSIN -- Patty Beeken
WYOMING --- Patty Beeken

Operation Passageway launch message

- August 2007

I have had the honor to consult with www. NamUs .gov

in the past and throughout the next several phases of it's development.

The UDRS (unidentified remains) system part of NamUs is up and running. It will be a bit longer before the missing side of things are up and running on the NamUs system.

In the mean time for the next few month I am co-sponsoring things by helping develop this test page www. OperationPassageway .-

It will begin automatically comparing the missing entered into it to the unidentifieds listed in the UDRS system already up and running at NamUs .

The base system was developed by ORA, the same software company that created UDRS . I just had to help tweak it to meet the specifications for missing rather than the unidentified. The two systems can "talk" to each other.

So I'd love to get as many missing cases listed here as will be a great test of the system and might even kick out some results. The other advantage -- all missing cases entered here, and any other developmental data, will be transferred to the final system when it is up and running on NamUs at some point between late 2008 & 2009.

Operation Passageway will be complete and will cease to exist when the main system goes online, but the data gathered will be safely transferred to the final system. So not only is this a good test run of the UDRS comparative analysis ability, it will help impact the final product once complete. So entering cases on Operation Passageway is like a preregistry to the final national database, a head start on getting cases listed.

Anyone can enter cases into Operation Passageway for the time being. All the data entered is data already out before the public by law enforcement, Once data is entered and validated the system begins the comparative analysis between Operation Passageway and the UDRS component of NamUs . *Unidentified Decedent Reporting System - now known as UP (Unidentified Persons)

This is data entry only. Operation Passageway does not have Area Directors nor does it process any potential matches. It is simply a short term project that tests the real time activity of the UDRS system already in place.

What we do and learn here and now, will indeed effect the final system -- at long last a national database for missing & unidentified persons operated by the federal government.

-Todd Matthews

Published by Todd Matthews

Todd's calling to be a voice for missing and unidentified persons began when he solved the identity of the "Tent Girl" case, Barbara Hackman-Taylor, after a ten-year journey that ended in 1998.  View profile

Ian Mulgrew: MacKay would abolish prostitution, not protect prostitutes

Bill C-36 contains the same flaws as previous legislation


Justice Minister Peter MacKay arrives to testify at a meeting of the Standing Committee of Justice and Human Rights Monday in Ottawa.

Photograph by: Adrian Wyld, THE CANADIAN PRESS

Justice Minister Peter MacKay hasn’t learned from the past and is blithely repeating the mistakes identified by the Supreme Court in the old prostitution law.

While he swatted lob-ball questions from party faithful out of the committee room Monday, legal experts from across the country and others continued to pummel Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act.

Listening to MacKay testify at the rare summer session, it was obvious he is driven solely by his passion for “ultimately abolishing (prostitution) to the extent possible.”

He has been on a moral crusade since the high court’s December ruling that declared sections of the anti-prostitution legislation unconstitutional because they endangered sex workers, and gave the government a year to fix them.

MacKay has responded with a bill that contains similar flaws.

That’s why the discussion at the Standing Committee of Justice and Human Rights, which continues through Thursday, is especially important for Metro Vancouver, given the region’s significant number of sex workers and its horrific record of violence against women.

The Robert Pickton serial killings played a key role in the top court’s thinking about how prostitution laws put women at risk.

MacKay won’t reveal the advice he received, but more than 200 of the country’s legal minds said in an open letter this week that his proposed legislation stinks because it perpetuates those dangers.

The Criminal Lawyers’ Association added that it was “bad policy and bad law.”

This issue is a Gordian knot — feminists can’t agree with each other, former sex-workers don’t tell the same story, women’s groups voice different points of view ….

Moreover, there is obviously no quick fix and the government’s promised $20 million in programs to help sex workers exit the trade is far, far too little.

Combating prostitution in reality means coming up with solutions that address, among others, poverty, aboriginal distress, addiction and affordable housing.

Unfortunately, too, there are many different types of prostitution — and then there is sex slavery.

Yet MacKay’s legislation conflates prostitution and human trafficking.

The minister emphatically believes prostitution is always “exploitation:” “No one raises their children to be prostitutes — that’s not something people aspire to.”

He sees sex workers always as victims and, for the most part, his aim is to immunize prostitutes from prosecution in most situations while criminalizing pimps and johns.

“The government maintains that prostitution’s inherent harms and dangers would only grow and be exacerbated in a regime that perpetrates and condones the exploitation of vulnerable individuals through legalized prostitution,” MacKay said.

But some of those who choose to sell sex insist he is denying them autonomy, turning them into objects and trampling their rights — who is he to call them ‘victims’?

Émilie Laliberté, of the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform, argued MacKay should separate those doing it voluntarily and those forced into it: Sex workers might not be acting completely out of free choice but many people end up in jobs they would not freely choose.

Our culture commodifies sex and for some, sexual capital is the only resource they have, in the same way that back-breaking labour is the only “capital” agricultural migrants have.

“This approach is in contradiction with the (Supreme Court) decision because it criminalizes clients as well as our professional and personal relationships and infringes upon our right to personal safety,” Laliberté said.

She complained sex workers would be driven into the shadows where they would be easy prey for the very predators from whom the Supreme Court said they needed protection.

“I see the same legislation as we had before,” Laliberté said.

That’s what’s wrong with MacKay’s approach — he’s running against the spirit of the Supreme Court decision. And, as with much of his law-and-order legislative program, he has little if any data to support the bill.

MacKay has adopted a similar approach as Swedish law reforms in 1999, but there is scant evidence they have done anything more than move the sex trade inside.

John Lowman, a Simon Fraser University criminologist who appeared before the committee by video conference, delivered an impassioned plea for a more evidence-based approach.

“Most women are not trafficked,” he maintained. “That’s what the research literature says. Obviously there are many, many different experiences and some of them are truly awful. But if we want to talk about the nature of prostitution, we need to understand that there are many different kinds of prostitution.”

A specialist who has done studies for the Justice Department and worked with Downtown Eastside women for years, Lowman said prostitution should be decriminalized as it was in New Zealand in 2003.

He pointed out that in the 1990s the Vancouver Police employed a strategy that was much like the approach in the new bill and all it produced was Pickton’s “killing field.”

Lowman urged the government to send the legislation to the Supreme Court for an opinion on its constitutional integrity.

MacKay dismissed that idea.

In doing so he also dismissed sex workers and others who feel this law will put women at greater risk of assault, rape and murder.


© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Monday, June 2

Calls for national inquiry on missing, murdered woman after arrest in slaying


Myrna Letandre is shown in an RCMP Manitoba handout photo. A joint police squad tasked with solving cases of missing and murdered women in Manitoba has arrested a man in the slaying of a woman almost eight years ago.The remains of Myrna Letandre were found in May 2013 in a Winnipeg home. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ HO-RCMP Manitoba

WINNIPEG - A joint police squad tasked with solving cold cases of missing and murdered women in Manitoba has arrested a man in the slaying of a woman almost eight years ago.

The arrest has reignited calls for a national inquiry into why almost 1,200 aboriginal women have disappeared and may have met a similar fate.

The remains of Myrna Letandre were found in May 2013 in a Winnipeg rooming house — almost seven years after she was reported missing by her sister.

Investigators with Project Devote, a unit made up of RCMP and Winnipeg police officers, took Traigo Andretti into custody in British Columbia and charged him with second-degree murder. Police said Monday the 38-year-old, who was convicted in the first-degree murder of his wife in British Columbia in April, was being brought back to Winnipeg to face the charges.

Winnipeg police Supt. Danny Smyth said investigators worked with the Vancouver homicide unit and waited for them to complete their investigation before bringing their own charges in the Manitoba case.

"The charges brought forth here today are a result of careful investigation and the gathering of evidence. The collective efforts of Project Devote team members and really all those involved in the investigation demonstrates a commitment to bring this matter to justice," Smyth said at a news conference.

"Our thoughts go out to Ms. Letandre's family members who have suffered an overwhelming loss."

The RCMP recently released a report estimating there have been 1,181 cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women since 1980.

Grand Chief David Harper, who represents Manitoba's northern First Nations, said an arrest in Letandre's case may bring some closure to her family, but there are still hundreds more looking for answers.

"Where else in the world are there over 1,000 women missing?" Harper asked. "We heard of the missing school girls in Africa and there was a public outcry. Here we have over 1,000 and still no call for a missing and murdered women national inquiry."

Dennis Whitebird, political liaison with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, criticized police who he said don't work in partnership with aboriginal leaders. Derek Nepinak, the assembly's grand chief, was not able to attend Monday's news conference because he wasn't given enough notice, Whitebird said.

"That's the kind of relationship we currently have with law enforcement. We're invited to come and make the report look good," he said.

"In 1492, when Columbus came here, he didn't bring any women. And what happened? Our First Nation women were targets and they're still targets today. I'm getting really angry as I'm speaking and I apologize for that."

Letandre, who was 37, was originally from Pinaymootang (Fairford) First Nation in Manitoba's Interlake area. Police said she was in a relationship with Andretti, also known as Dylan Harold Grubb, before she vanished. They said Andretti was questioned at the time of Letandre's disappearance.

Andretti was given a mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 25 years in April after admitting to the first-degree murder of his wife, Jennifer McPherson, who was also a longtime Winnipeg resident.

Police discovered the scattered remains of McPherson on a remote island near Alert Bay, off the east coast of Vancouver Island, last spring. She had been reported missing from Hanson Island, B.C., on May 1, 2013.

The couple had been living there as caretakers of a remote fishing resort called the Pacific Outback Resort.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said Andretti was convicted of his wife's murder in May.

Thursday, May 29

Missing women remembered as advocates continue calls for inquiry

by Yolande Cole on May 29, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Every year since her daughter Stephanie Lane’s death, Michele Pineault has marked her birthday in some way.

Often, she would come to CRAB Park with Lane’s son, now 18, who was just eight months old when his mother went missing. Her DNA was later found on Robert Pickton’s Port Coquitlam farm.

Wednesday would have been Lane’s 38th birthday, which was Pineault’s age when she lost her 20-year-old daughter.

“It’s a tough year to know that,” she said in an interview.

Pineault marked the date surrounded by family, supporters and other advocates for missing and murdered women. In a tribute to Lane, community members laid sunflowers at the foot of the memorial rock for the missing and murdered in CRAB Park.

The event was also intended to mark three years since Angeline Pete went missing from North Vancouver.

“Three years of no contact or anything of Angeline,” Molly Dixon, Pete’s mother, told the Straight.

“It’s been really hard, you know, not knowing where she is, or what’s happened. It’s just heartache.”

Dixon said she has put up posters around B.C., hoping for some information about her daughter. In the time that she’s been searching, other aboriginal women have gone missing, she noted.

“I’m really hoping someone comes forward…just so we can have peace of mind,” she said. “If she’s alive or something happened, you know? It’s really hard.”

Lorelei Williams, one of the organizers of the event Wednesday, said she and other advocates want to see a national inquiry into the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women.

Williams is part of a coalition that has urged the provincial government to implement recommendations including improved transit along the Highway of Tears in northern B.C.

“They should be able to put a bus there­—it’s not that hard,” Williams said in an interview. “How many more women have to go missing or be murdered on that Highway of Tears? It’s very upsetting.”

For Pineault, time hasn’t made the loss of her daughter any easier.

“Nothing like losing your child and especially the way I lost her,” she said. “That’s the part I can’t get over.”

But two things that have saved her, she added, have been raising her grandson, and her work as an advocate for missing and murdered women.

“Because I do the work that I do now, it’s made this struggle easier,” she said.

“That’s kind of my life’s work now.”

Source URL:

Friday, May 16

Aboriginal women overrepresentd in murdered and missing statistics

Police worked with Statistics Canada and nearly 300 agencies on national report

CBC News Posted: May 15, 2014 8:32 PM CT Last Updated: May 16, 2014 9:36 AM CT

The RCMP have released what they call their most comprehensive account to date of Canada's missing and murdered aboriginal women, which shows aboriginals are over-represented in stats of missing and murdered women.

The Mounties say they worked with Statistics Canada and almost 300 policing agencies to produce the National Operational Overview on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women, released Friday at RCMP D Division headquarters in Winnipeg.

Since 1980 the rate of women who are victims of homicide has trended down, except in the case of aboriginal women which has increased, the report states.

Earlier this month, officials confirmed that there are 1,181 police-recorded incidents of aboriginal homicides and unresolved missing women investigations over the past three decades — a much higher number than previously thought.

Key findings in the report:

  • Of the 1,181 investigations, 1,017 are aboriginal female homicide victims between 1980 and 2012 and 164 women are considered missing.
  • Currently, there are 225 unsolved cases: 120 are homicides, 105 are missing or foul play suspected.
  • Aboriginal women make up 16 per cent of all murdered women on record, five per cent of all murders on record, 11.3 per cent of all missing women on record.

Aboriginal women most likely to be murdered by an acquaintance (30 per cent), spouse (29 per cent), or family member (24 per cent).

As a whole, more than 90 per cent of indigenous female murder victims knew their killer, RCMP said.

Michèle Audette, president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, was anxious to see the report's recommendations.

She believes the lobbying for a national inquiry prompted the RCMP to begin working on the report.

"And from that, it's going to be a political tool. It's going to help the social movement out there [that] is pushing for justice and equity," she said.

For years, members of Canada's aboriginal community have been raising awareness of the issue and calling on the federal government to hold a national inquiry.

The Conservative government has refused to call an inquiry to date, referring instead to initiatives carried out over the years to combat violence against women and girls.

Derek Nepinak, grand chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, said the RCMP report is a step in the right direction.

"It's not the full step," he said.

"The full step needs to be a full public inquiry. But it is an intermediate step, and it does raise the spectre of concern that, you know, there is a much bigger issue out there."

Missing, murdered aboriginal women: RCMP set to release new report

Police worked with Statistics Canada and nearly 300 agencies on national report

CBC News Posted: May 15, 2014 8:32 PM CT Last Updated: May 16, 2014 7:42 AM CT

The RCMP are releasing what they call their most comprehensive account to date of Canada's missing and murdered aboriginal women on Friday morning.

The Mounties say they worked with Statistics Canada and almost 300 policing agencies to produce the National Operational Overview on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women.

RCMP officials will speak to reporters about the report Friday at 10 a.m. CT (11 a.m. ET) at its D Division headquarters in Winnipeg. will carry a live video stream of the news conference.

The report will include the RCMP's current count of missing and murdered women across the country.

Earlier this month, officials confirmed that there are 1,186 police-recorded incidents of aboriginal homicides and unresolved missing women investigations over the past three decades — a much higher number than previously thought.

The figure includes 1,017 aboriginal women slain between the years of 1980 and 2012, as well as 169 missing women dating back to 1952.

Among those hoping for answers from the RCMP report is Candy Volk, whose 18-year-old niece, Hillary Wilson, was killed almost five years ago.

Wilson's body was found in August 2009 on a dirt path northwest of Winnipeg. RCMP have said her death is a homicide, but the case remains unsolved.

"Hillary was a person. She was loved. She's missed daily," Volk told CBC News late Thursday.

"But she's just another statistic, and as her family we're the only ones who are acknowledging her. So it's really frustrating."

Michèle Audette, president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, said she is anxious to see what recommendations, if any, the RCMP report will have.

She believes the lobbying for a national inquiry has prompted the RCMP to begin working on the report.

"And from that, it's going to be a political tool. It's going to help the social movement out there [that] is pushing for justice and equity," she said.

For years, members of Canada's aboriginal community have been raising awareness of the issue and calling on the federal government to hold a national inquiry.

The Conservative government has refused to call an inquiry to date, referring instead to initiatives carried out over the years to combat violence against women and girls.

Derek Nepinak, grand chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, said the RCMP report will be a partial step in the right direction.

"It's not the full step," he said.

"The full step needs to be a full public inquiry. But it is an intermediate step, and it does raise the spectre of concern that, you know, there is a much bigger issue out there."

Media Advisory: RCMP Releases National Operational Overview on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women - Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Media Advisory: RCMP Releases National Operational Overview on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women - Royal Canadian Mounted Police:

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Thursday, April 10

Police work to identify human remains in Kamloops

By: Andrea Klassen in Law & Order, News, Police April 9, 2014

Kamloops RCMP say remains found in a remote are west of the city’s wastewater-treatment plant on Mission Flats Road were skeletal.

However, beyond that fact, police have released few new details about how they came to be on private ranch land.

At a press conference on Wednesday, April 9, Cpl. Cheryl Bush said specialists from the BC Coroners Service had been called in to help determine the identity of the individual found on Tuesday, April 8.

The specialists will also work with members of the Kamloops RCMP serious-crimes unit to determine how the remains came to be in that location.

Bush said it’s too early for police to release any information on the person  found or what circumstances led to the death.

“I think once we further examine the scene with the coroners service, we’ll be better able to comment on that,” she said.

“I think that, at this point, it would be too early to speculate how the remains ended up at that site.”

While police aren’t saying if the remains are linked to missing women Cassandra Wilson or Samantha Paul, Bush said RCMP are aware families of the women will be watching the investigation closely.

“We do have empathy for that and we do understand the importance of identifying the individual as quickly as possible for their family and any other families of missing persons,” Bush said.

“This will be done as quickly as possible while also protecting the integrity of the scene in the event that this is determined to be a homicide investigation.”

Wilson, 41, disappeared from downtown Kamloops on April 6, 2012. Paul was last seen on Sept. 9, 2013.

While Paul’s disappearance led to information that had investigators making inquiries in the Lower Mainland and Calgary, she remains missing.

Police have said they believe Wilson had been murdered since she was last seen on surveillance video walking through the parking lot of the downtown 7-Eleven store after midnight on April 6, 2012.

Wilson was fighting addiction issues and was working as a prostitute when she vanished.

Bob Hughes of the ASK Wellness Centre said the Mission Flats area is frequented by johns and prostitutes, but noted the property where the remains were found is farther down the road than most people would travel.

“Usually it’s just right out past the pulp mill into the pullout right there,” he said.

“That’s a common spot for both male and female sex exchange, but not that far out.”

Hughes said the roughness of the road past the pulp mill would likely deter anyone buying or selling sex from going much further.

Hughes said while the remains could be one of the two missing women, he’s also aware they could be decades old.

But, for the families of Wilson and Paul, he thinks a positive identification of the remains could be better than no answer at all.

“No news is the worst news,” Hughes said. “There’s never any closure. You’re never able to properly grieve to say, ‘We know this is what happened.’ Even if it’s horrendous, at least you can say you have some answers.”

A large swath of the Mission Flats property remains cordoned off as the investigation continues.

“Until we know exactly what we’re looking at, we don’t want to make it too small of an area and miss something,” Bush said, adding she is not aware of any previous police investigations on the property.

The ranch owner is co-operating with the investigation.

The location of the human remains is in the same general area where the body of a Kamloops woman was found on March 23, 2004.

Shana Lee Labatte, a 30-year-old prostitute fighting addiction issues, was murdered and her body left on Mission Flats.

Her murder remains unsolved, as does the slaying of fellow prostitute Sherri Lee Hiltz.

The body of the 44-year-old woman was found on April 9, 2005, in a backyard in the 800-block of Surrey Avenue, near Eighth Street, in North Kamloops.

Monday, March 17

B.C. and Vancouver to pay $50,000 settlements to children of Pickton victims

by TRAVIS LUPICK on MAR 17, 2014 at 2:07 PM


MORE THAN ONE year after the commissioner of the B.C. missing women inquiry recommended that children of Robert Pickton’s victims receive monetary compensation, payments are finally on the way.

Lawyers representing 13 families in lawsuits against the City of Vancouver and the province say they are prepared to accept settlements in 12 of those cases. Victims’ children will receive $50,000 each plus legal costs.

Michelle Pineault, of one of the 12 families and whose daughter Stephanie Lane's DNA was found on the Pickton farm, told theStraight that she’s pleased with the amount that her grandson will receive, but that it’s been a “long time coming”.

“There’s no perfect resolution,” Pineault said. “There is no amount of money that will ever bring any of these women back. But this is the end of another chapter in our lives.”

Jason Gratl, one of the lawyers representing the victims’ families, told the Straight that he is satisfied with the settlement.

“It’s not compensation for the loss of a mother, but it represents an opportunity to try and make up for some of the disadvantage suffered from the loss of a mother,” he added.

The lawsuit was launched in May 2013 and claims that the Crown and police failed to adequately protect women in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

Gratl said that when the case returns to court on March 18, attention will turn to Pickton’s brothers.

“Our clients intend to advocate for changes to wrongful death laws to allow for punitive damage awards in cases of intentional homicide,” he said. “That’s the focus from here.”

A compensation fund for the children of missing and murdered women was one of 63 recommendations outlined in Wally Oppal’sReport of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, which was issued in December 2012.

On March 13, 2013, the B.C. Ministry of Justice pledged $5 millionto take further action on the implementation of those recommendations.

Among other initiatives, the provincial government has promised more than $845,000 to 12 different organizations that are positioned to support the prevention of violence against women.

Sunday, March 16

Pickton lawsuit: B.C. to pay $50K per child

By David P. Ball, 24 hours Vancouver

Sunday, March 16, 2014 10:00:04 PDT PM

B.C. and Vancouver plan to settle a civil case this week from children of missing women whose DNA was found on serial killer Robert Pickton’s farm, sources told 24 hours. (FILE PHOTO)

B.C. and Vancouver plan to settle a civil case this week from children of missing women whose DNA was found on serial killer Robert Pickton’s farm, sources told 24 hours. (FILE PHOTO)

The province and Vancouver are poised to settle their portion of a lawsuit with 13 children whose mothers' DNA was found on serial killer Robert Pickton's farm, 24 hours has learned. Each of the children will receive $50,000 plus legal costs.

In addition, sources from the victims’ families revealed the province also plans to announce a $50,000 compensation package for at least 80 other children of moms linked to the Pickton case.

“We're generally pleased with the settlement,” said Neil Chantler, one of three lawyers who launched the civil case. “Nobody is suggesting that $50,000 is adequate compensation for the loss of their mothers but this settlement is in accordance with the law in this province, and our clients are happy to put this behind them.”

The lawsuits were launched last May against Pickton, his brother Dave and sister Linda, the governments of Vancouver and B.C. – representing their respective police forces – and several individually named officers. The civil case returns to court Tuesday, but will now focus only on the two Pickton brothers. Chantler said Vancouver and Pickton’s sister have been dropped from the suit.

Until now, several family members had been worried the province was ignoring Wally Oppal's 2012 recommendation to pay the children after his Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.

But not all of the families are happy with B.C.'s offer. Bridget Perrier is the stepmother of Angel Wolfe — whose birth mother Brenda's remains were found on Pickton's farm.

“As someone who's raised a child that is an orphan due to the systemic racism that went on within the province of B.C. and within the VPD, this is disgusting,” Perrier said.

Lorelei Williams lost her cousin Tanya Holyk — whose remains were found on the farm — but wasn't part of the lawsuit.

“No amount of money replaces a mother,” she said. “But at least it's something. Wally Oppal said they should do this, but we've had to push and fight for it ever since.”

A lawyer who asked not to be named said while the settlements accord with what the children might have received in court, they shine a “spotlight on the woefully inadequate wrongful death law” in this province.

On Thursday B.C.'s justice ministry announced $5 million for Oppal's recommendations. A spokesperson wouldn't comment on a lawsuit settlement except to say it's moving forward with a compensation fund.

Tuesday, March 4

B.C.’s director of police services to get new powers on cold cases

Government will appoint external forces to review unsolved homicides, cold cases


Giving the director of police services power to assign external investigators was one of the recommendations made by Missing Women Commissioner Wally Oppal, above, in a 2012 report.

Photograph by: Ian Smith, PNG

The B.C. government will appoint outside police forces to audit missing women files, unsolved homicides and other serious police investigations that turn into cold cases, under new legislation introduced Monday.

Justice Minister Suzanne Anton said her government’s director of police services, Clayton Pecknold, will be given new powers to assign external police investigators to review cases that are stalled or left to go cold within other police departments.

The change was one of the recommendations made by Missing Women Commissioner Wally Oppal in a 2012 report.

“There were many different problems identified by commissioner Oppal but one of them was missing person’s files had been allowed to languish,” said Anton.

“My head of police services here can (now) order an audit of files that have gone to sleep.”

The decision on which cases to audit will be largely driven by public complaints, she added.

“Certainly in the case of the missing women … there was evidence that families along the way would say, ‘Look you haven’t done anything,’” recalled Anton.

Oppal, a former B.C. Court of Appeal justice, heard from 85 witnesses over 93 days and collected 150,000 pages of evidence as his inquiry examined why it took so long for the Vancouver police and RCMP to identify Robert Pickton as a serial killer, despite warnings he was preying on sex workers in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

In December 2012 — two years after the $8-million inquiry was struck — Oppal released a voluminous report with 65 recommendations for change, including some big items that have not been acted upon, such as regional policing.

Pickton’s victims disappeared from Vancouver police territory, but he did his killing at his home in Port Coquitlam, which is policed by the RCMP. Oppal’s report said there was a “systemic failure” by the two agencies to deal with those cross-jurisdictional issues.

Oppal said Monday that while there is still more work to be done to address all 65 recommendations, he was happy to see the government follow through on his suggestion to increase the power of the director of police services.

The justice ministry said it also planned to create new standards for missing person and other major investigations, as well as to promote “bias-free policing.”

Oppal said such charges are crucial, as his report concluded police agencies had discriminated against Pickton’s victims.

“That was my finding that the police were biased. Had any of those women come from Kerrisdale or the university district, you can imagine that the reaction of the police would be quite different,” Oppal said.

Neither the RCMP nor Vancouver police would comment on the proposed legislation, referring all questions to the Justice Ministry.

Jason Gratl, a Vancouver lawyer who represented Downtown Eastside communities at the inquiry, said it’s good that this legislation gives the director of police services a bit more power to act when a cold case isn’t solved.

However, he said testimony at the inquiry made it clear that legislative changes alone won’t protect vulnerable women unless police take such cases more seriously.

“The officers simply didn’t investigate. It wasn’t for lack of power, it was for lack of will,” Gratl said.

He added it is crucial for police officers to be unbiased toward victims, so that every case gets the same treatment regardless of the background of the victims. Since the high-profile inquiry, Gratl said he has witnessed slow improvements in how the justice system treats disenfranchised women.

Anton said her government has been working on fulfilling the “majority of the themes” from Oppal’s report, but perhaps not every recommendation.

“We may not be doing every single individual item in the missing person’s report but we are definitely meeting all of the themes identified in the report,” she said.

Rather than amalgamate Greater Vancouver’s many police forces, for example, Anton said the province is pushing for integrated police teams.

But Opposition NDP critic Kathy Corrigan said the province continues to have a “very weak” response to Oppal’s recommendations.

He had suggested the cold case audits be mandatory, she noted, and the proposed changes leave it up to the discretion of government. “That’s a bit of a watering down of the recommendation,” Corrigan said.

There has also been little action on a recommendation for a shuttle bus on the so-called Highway of Tears in northern B.C., she said,

The outside audit of cold cases would occur in files where no investigative steps have been taken for one year, and in cases where criminal charges against an accused person were recommended but not approved by Crown and the case subsequently went cold for a year, according to the bill tabled in the legislature.

The law, if approved, would also force police chiefs to order an internal review of every major case investigation within 60 days of it becoming inactive, and submit a report to the government.

Outside police investigators appointed by government would review evidence, records, and investigative steps, and would not require warrants to obtain access to the police departments and any records they require, according to the bill.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Wednesday, February 19

Gone but not forgotten: Documenting Canada’s missing and murdered aboriginal women

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

There's outrage here at home among those in the midst of documenting the facts and circumstances around so many missing and murdered women and girls in Canada. Today we hear from two women looking for answers, one heartbreaking name at a time.

"The brutality of these murders is what stands out. It's almost as if there's a need to obliterate these women. Picton was not an anomaly."

Documentary maker Audrey Huntley

Last Friday, in a number of Canadian cities, people gathered by the dozens - sometimes the hundreds - to remember Canada's murdered and missing aboriginal women. Human Rights Watch, the United Nations, and even Canada's own premiers demand more action on the issue. But a call for an inquiry was dismissed by Ottawa last year.

Estimates of how many women are missing or murdered varies.

But one woman's work has gone a long way in determining a reliable number. Maryanne Pearce completed a doctorate in law at the University of Ottawa. As part of her thesis, she spent seven years making a database of the names of missing and murdered women. Some of the cases date back to the 1950s, but the overwhelming majority are since 1990.

** A word of warning, the content of this conversation is disturbing, and sometimes graphic. **