Aboriginal leaders call for public inquiry
Last Updated: Saturday, February 14, 2009 | 5:51 PM PT
of people marched through Vancouver's notorious Downtown Eastside on Saturday to
remember the dozens of women who were slain or have gone missing in B.C.
Marlene George, one of the organizers of the 18th annual Women's Memorial
March, said the event is for women all over the country.
"We aren't going to tolerate people coming in from outside the community and
murdering women from the Downtown Eastside or anywhere, so we're holding this
march for all women," she said.
Many were there to mourn the six women whom Robert William Pickton has been
convicted of killing and the 20 others he is still accused of slaying.
Other people were there to draw attention to the 18 women who've gone missing
along the western stretch of Highway 16, the so-called highway of tears, across
northern British Columbia.
And there are other missing women, including more than 30 still on the
Vancouver Police Department's list of missing persons from the Downtown
Aboriginal leaders demand inquiry
Leaders in B.C.'s aboriginal community used the opportunity to call for a
public inquiry into the deaths of the slain and missing women.
B.C. Attorney General Wally Oppal has said any talk of a potential inquiry
must wait until Pickton's legal saga comes to an end.
Pickton is appealing his murder convictions, and Crown prosecutors have said
there are no plans to push forward with Pickton's 20 outstanding charges if his
earlier second-degree murder convictions are upheld.
However, David Dennis of the United Native Nations, who spoke at the march,
said it's unfair to have the women's families wait that long for justice.
"Women continue to go missing along the Highway of Tears and the Downtown
Eastside. The Vancouver Police and the RCMP have not yet satisfied the
aboriginal community or the larger community that they have addressed the errors
of the past comprehensively," Dennis said.
The First Nations Summit, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs and the
Assembly of First Nations are all demanding answers from the province, he said.
They have sent a letter to the premier and the attorney general requesting a
meeting about a public inquiry.
Families still grieving
Jason Fluery, whose sister Mona Wilson is among the women Pickton was
convicted of murdering, told a packed room at a community centre before the
march that police and politicians have turned a "blind eye" to the missing
"My sister was a person with a heart and skin and blood like everybody else
in this room," said Fluery.
"It goes on everywhere down here, because nobody cares. Our people are dying
every day because of it."
Ernie Crey's younger sister, Dawn Crey, disappeared in December 2000 at age
43. Her DNA was found on Pickton's farm in 2004, although he was never charged
in her death.
Crey said if the legal process stops, the families of the women who were
connected to the Pickton farm but for whom no one was convicted or even charged
may never know what happened.
"It causes me anxiety and anguish," said Crey.
"My concern is that that is where it will all end. This leaves a question
mark for a family like mine."
Rallies and marches were also planned in Victoria, Calgary and Winnipeg.
With files from the Canadian Press
Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2009/02/14/van-missing-womens-march.html#ixzz0fZne5pPS