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Daughter hopes for clues to mom's disappearance

Eight-year-old mystery

Ethan Baron
The Province

Monday, June 27, 2005

Debra Chartier is not like other young women. The 20-year-old has a dark shadow hanging over her, a mystery that traps her in an emotional limbo.

Eight years ago, her mother Janet Henry, a 36-year-old drug addict in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, vanished. She left $115 in a credit union account, and no clues to her fate.

Now, as Robert Pickton stands trial for the murders of 27 of 68 women who disappeared from the eastside, Henry's family hopes the continuing police probe will uncover something to explain her disappearance. "I think I know she's dead, but it's not confirmed," Chartier said. "I'm just kind of waiting to see what happens, waiting to see what I should feel."

On a life-skills level, Chartier has conquered the trauma that followed the disappearance, when she was 12, of her mother. Chartier earned a criminology diploma from the College of New Caledonia in Prince George. She's changed her mind about becoming a police officer, and is working in a Prince George service-sector job and in a call centre to make ends meet while she weighs her options.

"I'm a serious person," Chartier said. "I don't have much of a sense of humour any more. I look at the people I graduated with, and they seem like they're 12 years old."

DNA from some of the 41 unaccounted for missing women has been found on the Pickton property, but none of Henry's was discovered there.

The missing and dead aboriginal women have been memorialized in a labour-intensive artistic work by Gloria Larocque of Surrey.

Larocque, with help from native teen Jamie Ottavi, has nearly completed 100 angel dolls, each with unique clothing but no face, representing native women killed or missing in Canada.

Larocque is putting her dolls on show to raise money for a book instructing young native women in avoiding the pitfalls that can send them on a downward path. She hopes her dolls, and her book, will help connect aboriginal girls with native culture, boosting self-esteem. ebaron@png.canwest.com

 The Vancouver Province 2005

Janet Gail Henry

Janets Wedding Day

 

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Updated: August 21, 2016