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By Slav Kornik
Web Producer Global News
EDMONTON – It’s been 11 years since 21-year-old Maggie Burke vanished from downtown Edmonton.
Police believe foul play was involved in her disappearance, and hope speaking publicly about the cold case will generate tips more than a decade later.
“I’m doing this because my family needs answers,”Maggie’s mother Marie Burke said Wednesday.
“She loved her family and she loved her daughter and she would have never just taken off,” Marie added.
“Something happened to her.”
Maggie was last seen in the area of 95 Street and 118 Avenue, where she had worked in the sex trade. However, police believe the 21-year-old was meeting a friend at the time of her disappearance.
Crime Stoppers put up a billboard with Maggie’s photo this week in the hopes someone will come forward with information.
“Someone, somewhere, must have information about Maggie’s disappearance,” Sgt. Neil Zurawell, with EPS Missing Persons Unit, said.
“We want that key piece of information, that little nugget of information, that will really progress the investigation and help us find some real answers.”
Maggie is described as aboriginal, 5’7″, 125 lbs, brown eyes, with brown hair that had red streaks in it at the time. She also had a marijuana leaf tattoo on her left arm.
Her mother, in speaking publicly for the first time, pleaded for help.
“Please help us find Maggie. She is missed and she is loved.”
Anyone with information about her disappearance is asked to contact Edmonton police at 780-423-4567 or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online.
With files from Vinesh Pratap, Global News
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BY LAURA KANE, THE CANADIAN PRESS SEPTEMBER 27, 2015
VANCOUVER — A brother of one of the women murdered by Robert Pickton says he’s shocked and upset after the City of Vancouver removed plaques honouring three of the killer’s victims.
Bronze plaques bearing the names of Georgina Papin, Brenda Wolfe and Marnie Frey were installed in a sidewalk in the city’s Downtown Eastside in 2012.
George Papin travels to Vancouver once or twice a month to lay tobacco and say a prayer at his sister’s plaque. But about two weeks ago, he discovered it was gone.
“I treasured the memorial as it was a part of me, just like my sister,” he said. “And now they take this away.”
The memorials were part of an unfinished project called “The Living Stones,” which was originally set to lay 62 plaques at the last known locations of missing and murdered women.
The city took over the project in 2013 after the non-profit group that launched it dissolved. Just four plaques had been laid.
A city spokesman said Saturday that staff had been working to “resolve issues” around the project. He said its founders originally indicated it had been endorsed by all the families and the Downtown Eastside community.
“Unfortunately, we later discovered that there was not consensus from the community or from the women’s families regarding this project,” Jason Watson said in a statement.
“Given the lack of consensus, it was determined in spring 2015 that the few plaques that were installed would be removed and no additional ones would be installed.”
He said the city is working to obtain contact details for the families to see if they want the plaques sent to them, adding the non-profit previously refused to provide that information.
Papin, who lives in Pemberton, said city officials had not contacted him. The other women’s families could not immediately be reached, but a woman who identified herself as Wolfe’s daughter Angel said on Facebook that the city had been in touch and was planning to send families the plaques.
Frey’s father Rick was quoted in the Vancouver Sun in 2013 as saying that he didn’t want the plaque in the ground with “people walking over it and spitting on” it.
Pickton is serving a life sentence for the second-degree murders of six women. Twenty other charges against him were not proceeded with — including in the death of Cara Ellis.
A Living Stone plaque laid in another location in Vancouver’s downtown core that honoured Ellis has not yet been removed.
Sean Faludi, the project’s founder, strongly denied the city’s allegations. He said he provided permission letters from all but one of the families and had never refused to hand over contact details.
Faludi said he only learned on Saturday that the stones had been removed.
“What astounds me is the callousness of the way these stones have been treated,” he said. “It’s rather heartbreaking to know that a project that was associated with my name is kind of brushed under the trash can.”
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By Alannah O'Neill Photography Getty
Leng started www.missingpeople.net, launched a 1-800 number to solicit tips and was eventually contacted by a man with information about his employer, a pig farmer named Robert “Willie” Pickton. “I turned it over to the police, but I didn’t think much of it,” says Leng. That is, until Pickton was arrested – four years later – and charged with the murders of 26 women.
For all the backlash that Serial received, it sparked an international debate about a case no one was talking about and generated enough interest to launch a formal appeals process for Syed. As for Leng, finding the truth has finally given him a sense of peace. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Sarah,” says Leng. “But it does give some measure of closure.”
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Robert Pickton: Movie on victims starts filming in Vancouver next week - CBC News - Latest Canada, World, Entertainment and Business News
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|How do you stop violence against aboriginal women? Start with the hundred other terrible things ...|
Workers sift through debris during major excavation work at Robert Pickton's farm in Port Coquitlam, B.C., Oct. 2, 2002. (Ian Lindsay / Postmedia News).
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Policy change encourages more witnesses, victims to testify in court
BY LORI CULBERT, VANCOUVER SUN JANUARY 6, 2015 7:47 PM
In an artist’s rendering, Gina Houston, left, was the Crown’s first star witness in the trial of serial killer Robert Pickton, right.
Photograph by: GLENN BAGLO, VANCOUVER SUN
There will be more support for vulnerable victims and witnesses at criminal trials under new provincial rules that respond to recommendations from the 2012 Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.
One of the key recommendations from the hefty inquiry report, written by former attorney general Wally Oppal, was for B.C.’s criminal justice system to be less alienating, especially for women who work in the sex trade.
Oppal heard from dozens of witnesses at the inquiry, called to examine the police investigation into Vancouver’s missing women and the prosecution of serial killer Robert (Willie) Pickton in 2007.
More than two years after the release of his report, which made 65 recommendations for change, the criminal justice branch announced policy changes Tuesday designed to encourage more vulnerable people to participate in trials.
“Crown Counsel should keep in mind that vulnerable victims and witnesses may be particularly subject to pressure, intimidation, and interference,” the new policy acknowledges.
Vulnerability can be influenced by a person’s job, ethnicity, sexual orientation, mental health, substance use, language, legal status, poverty and history of abuse, the new policy states.
The attorney general now promises prosecutors, dealing with vulnerable people, will:
• be assigned early to files, have specialized training, provide regular updates, try to get early trial dates, and stay with the case from start to finish;
• pursue publication bans, protective orders and accommodations such as testifying by video or behind a screen when applicable;
• work with vulnerable people’s social supports to try to overcome their reluctance to testify;
• ask for warrants that protect the vulnerable victims/witnesses when an accused is released.
In an interview, Oppal said the changes are necessary because the justice system is very adversarial, with one side challenging the testimony of the other.
“I think all of us in the system need to be more sensitive to victims,” said Oppal, a former B.C. Appeal Court justice. “If the system is going to have any credibility then it has to take into account the effects of the crime on the victim, and particularly the effects on vulnerable women.”
Oppal noted in his report that a vulnerable person’s evidence should not be devalued, as it was in the case of an important Pickton witness — a drug-addicted sex-trade worker — who the Crown dismissed as too unstable.
Many vulnerable women are reluctant to testify, often due to fear for their safety, but some of these new changes will help, said Kate Gibson, executive director of WISH, a Vancouver drop-in centre for sex-trade workers.
“It is hard to keep going back (to the prosecutor’s office) and meeting somebody new every time, but what this focuses on is keeping the file with the same Crown counsel from the beginning,” she said.
“And it is important to have Crown counsel with experience in the area of vulnerable people, and a view of the world that is compassionate.”
Gibson wished, though, that the new policy was more specific about protecting women engaged in the sex trade, as they work in a “criminalized environment.”
Indeed, a lawyer who testified at the inquiry said Crown policy should address “the unique vulnerability of sex-trade workers and the inordinate incidence of violence directed toward them.”
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