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Daughter of one of Robert Picktons' victims brings Missing Women inquiry to tears

BY NEAL HALL, VANCOUVER SUN  October 27, 2011

Brenda Wolfe, who was murdered by serial killer Robert Pickton

Photograph by: Handout, ...

VANCOUVER -- The 18-year-old daughter of Brenda Wolfe, who was murdered by serial killer Robert Pickton, brought many spectators to tears Thursday at the Missing Women inquiry.

Angel Wolfe testified she was only six when her mother vanished in Vancouver.

"I talked to her regularly and suddenly the calls stopped," she recalled.

She added her stepmother, Bridget Perrier, immediately knew something was wrong at the time.

Two years later, Angel was visited by two police officers who told her: "We may have found your mother's remains at the pig farm."

She was eight years old at the time.

Angel recalled police asking her questions and wanting a DNA sample, which she found overwhelming.

She still remembers the black binder put in front of her that contained photos of Pickton's farm in Port Coquitlam.

At the time, Angel added, she was being raised by a rich Jewish family and when friends found out about what happened to her mother they didn't want to hang out with her anymore.

"I've been through a lot because of my mother's passing," recalled the young woman, who now lives in Toronto.

Before that, she said, she only had happy memories of her mother.

"She was a very happy person who loved music and dancing," the daughter told the inquiry.

And she hated the stories she read about her mother in the media.

"There were many untrue stories about my mother," she said.

"It was like I was being punched in the face."

She also became confused about her identity and wished she would have had an aboriginal counsellor to help her through those difficult times.

She began crying as she read out a poem about her mother.

"He took you from me forever," Angel said of her mother.

"I wish she was here with me."

She recalled she was offered $10,000 compensation by the crime victims unit for the loss of her mother.

"For them to put a price on my mother hurts me," she said.

She said police ignored the problem of women such as her mother, who disappeared in 1999, going missing for two decades.

The same has happened across Canada as police continue to ignore other missing first nations women, which she called "genocide."

She told inquiry Commissioner Wally Oppal that there needs to be more detox beds and treatment centres for those with addictions.

Wolfe said she and her stepmother have founded a group, Sex Work 101, which advocates decriminalizing street prostitution and viable ways out of the sex trade for women.

"I admire you for your courage and for what you are doing," Oppal told the young women after finishing her testimony.

Earlier in the day, the inquiry was told the deep-seated fear of the RCMP among first nations people stems from the role the Mounties played in rounding up children and sending them off to Indian residential schools.

"It was called the Indian kid fall roundup," Ernie Crey testified at the inquiry.

"Children were rounded up and put in cattle cars and sent off to residential schools," recalled Crey, a prominent first nations leader whose sister Dawn disappeared in 2000 and was a victim of Pickton.

Crey became choked up as he explained that when aboriginal kids were loaded into cattle cars, their parents and grandparents would climb on the cars to hold the hands of children.

He said the Mounties would use truncheons to break the hands of mothers and grandmothers.

"This wasn't so long ago," said Crey, 62, whose father was put in an Indian residential school.

The schools, he said, were designed to "kill the Indian in the child" to try to assimilate aboriginal kids into the mainstream culture.

The schools meted out beatings for children who spoke their native language or expressed loyalties to their aboriginal communities, Crey said

He was explaining to the inquiry why it's important for police to have sensitivity training and cross-cultural workshops to allow police to understand how aboriginal people have cultural and historical differences.

Crey pointed out that there still exists a crisis among aboriginal children in B.C. because there are now more aboriginal kids in foster care than were in residential schools, the last of which were closed in the 1980s.

He said police forces such as the RCMP and Vancouver police still need to hire more first nations officers and promote them into the senior ranks in order to instill a sense of confidence among the aboriginal community.

"I think the aboriginal community would be very pleased," Crey testified, "and very proud."

The inquiry is probing some of the systemic problems in the police investigations that failed to catch Pickton sooner.

Pickton wasn't arrested until February 2000, despite tips to police in 1998 that Pickton was a serial killer responsible for the disappearance of dozens of women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

A high proportion of the missing women were drug addicts involved in "survival sex," a term used to describe addicts working the streets to pay for drugs.

During an exhaustive search of Pickton's farm in Port Coquitlam, police found the DNA of 33 women, including Dawn Crey.

Pickton confessed to an undercover officer that he killed 49 women and planned to kill more.

Pickton was charged with 27 counts of first-degree murder, which were divided into two trials.

The first trial ended in 2007 with Pickton convicted on six murder counts.

He is serving six life sentences.

The Crown chose not to proceed on the second trial involving 20 murders.

The reasons for that decision will be examined later by the inquiry, now in its third week.

It will also probe why the Crown chose to drop an attempted murder charge in 1998 against Pickton.

The charge stemmed from a knife attack on a prostitute who ran naked and bleeding from Pickton's farm and was picked up on the street by a passing motorist.

Crey said a day earlier that he feels his sister -- and 17 other women killed by Pickton after the 1997 attack -- might still be alive today if the killer had been put in jail then.

Dawn Crey would have turned 53 this week, had she lived.

Her sister, Lorraine Crey, testified today about searching for her sister for three weeks before Christmas in 2000.

She recalled her sister said during the last conversation she had with Lorraine that she was afraid of a man.

She didn't elaborate.

nhall@vancouversun.com

 

Email: wleng#missingpeople.net 

Missing Women Tip Line: 1-877-687-3377

Updated: August 21, 2016