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A brother's memory

Georgina Papin's sibling deals with the pain

By ANDREW HANON, SUN MEDIA

July 15, 2007

After nearly six months in the hole, Rick Papin is reacquainting himself with human contact.

“I’m only now getting used to having people around me,” the 44-year-old confessed last week, days after coming out of 23-hour lock-up at the Edmonton Remand Centre.

But Papin is grateful for the time alone.

It gave him time to come to grips with the horrific details emerging from the New Westminster, B.C. courtroom where accused serial killer Robert Pickton is on trial for the murder of his sister, Georgina, and five other women.

“If I hadn’t been locked up, I would have taken my anger out on anybody around me,” he said. “I needed time to accept the news and deal with my own emotions. I thought at one time I would be prepared to hear anything imaginable. I wasn’t.”

He’s still easing back into the general population, continuing to spend most of his time alone in his cell.

Papin last spoke with his little sister a decade ago, but he vividly remembers the grimly prophetic conversation.

“I had to go to court the week after and I was going to jail for a while,” Papin recalled. “My visit with my sister was to touch base and let her know I was okay.”

Childhood friends

Georgina was living in Mission, a small city nestled against the mountains in B.C.’s Fraser Valley, about an hour east of Vancouver’s grimy Downtown Eastside.

Papin had come out from Edmonton to see Georgina once more before being locked up. She was the only one of his eight siblings that he knew in childhood.

Oddly, their talk turned to death.

“For some reason, she said, ‘Ricky, do you know the elders say we are safe in the mountains and closer to the creator? When the time comes, this is where I want to be,’” Papin said. “I’ve always wondered if she knew her time was close.”

Georgina vanished from the face of the Earth in the spring of 1999.

Three years later, Georgina’s remains were found among the dozens of other human body parts discovered on Pickton’s notorious 17-acre pig farm in Port Coquitlam.

Pickton is currently on trial for six counts of first degree murder and will face 20 more charges at a later date.

Members of the Papin clan were fixtures at the New Westminster courthouse in the opening days of the Pickton trial back in January. But Rick, who knew his sister better than anyone, was again behind bars in Edmonton on new drug charges.

Media reports his sisters death

After spending their entire childhood protecting his sister in sometimes abusive foster homes, Papin was tormented by media reports of Georgina’s unspeakably gruesome death. Despite the anguish it caused, he was driven to learn as much as he could about what was happening in the courtroom.

Papin says it soon drove him to an emotional breakdown. Unable to control his rage, he wound up in lockdown.

Papin and Georgina went into the child welfare system while still toddlers. He’s not sure why, but assumes it’s because his mother, a member of the Ermineskin native band in Hobbema and his father, from Enoch, both struggled with addiction.

Their first years were spent in a group home on a farm, a time Papin remembers fondly.

“Our time there was pretty normal and we never really thought of our parents as we were led to believe that they were gone and one day we were going to a new mom and dad.”

When he was six and Georgina five, the pair were sent to a foster home. One day, Papin said, he came home from school to find his foster father in bed with Georgina.

As soon as he could, Papin ran away with Georgina in tow, only to be picked up a day later by police.

“From elementary to our pre-teens, we would be shuffled from home to home or run away,” he said. Abuse and neglect, he said, was commonplace.

Time passes and people drift

“My sister was very pretty,” he said. “She told me not ask what had happened to her at times.”

For the next two decades, they drifted in and out of each other’s lives, with Rick staying here in Edmonton and Georgina spending time in Las Vegas and Vancouver.

Both became embroiled in drugs and the streets, with Papin drifting in and out of jail and Georgina falling into the sex trade. Her final days were spent in the Downtown Eastside.

Eventually they learned they had seven siblings, and the family spent its first - and only - Christmas together in 1986.

But Rick and Georgina always remained close.

“She was the person I talked to,” he said.

Papin doubts he will ever get over his sister’s death.

“People think that this case before the courts will bring closure. Not for me, ever.”

andrewhanon@sunmedia.ca

Edmonton Sun

 

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Updated: August 21, 2016