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MISSING EASTSIDE WOMEN 8

A $100,000 reward is being offered by the city and province for information on foul play involved in the disappearances of the women.

It is this wish for some sort of resolution – and an abiding anger toward Vancouver’s foot-dragging Mayor Owen – that propelled Maggie deVries, a Vancouver elementary schoolteacher and Sarah’s older sister, to begin this past spring organizing a memorial tribute for the missing women. Maggie was nine when her parents, both white, adopted a one-year-old black baby and named her Sarah. Sarah grew up amid affluence in Vancouver’s upscale West Point Grey district. Her father was a professor at the University of British Columbia; her mother would become head nurse at Vancouver General Hospital. Sarah attended Queen Mary Elementary School and University Hill Secondary but couldn’t escape the subtle racism, the taunts and teasings of being a black kid in a white neighbourhood. In a world of high achievers, being a poor student didn’t help. She was inclined instead toward poetry and filling sketchbooks with drawings of butterflies and princesses.

Her parents separated in acrimony when she was nine. Her world fell apart. At 13, she began running away and within two years had turned her first trick on Vancouver’s original High Track, located then along residential Davie Street. But the politicians and police had soon chased the prostitutes out of this area, and deVries fell in with the city’s dealers and pimps on Hastings Street’s dismal Low Track. By the time she was 17, she had a $500-a-day habit.

It got worse. At age 20, she gave birth to a heroin-addicted daughter, Jeanie. At age 21, she was sentenced to six months in prison for robbing a john, and she promised herself and her sister during her incarceration that she’d straighten out, get an education, be a good mom. With-in hours of her release, however, she was back fixing heroin. A few years later, shortly after she gave birth to her second addicted child, a boy named Ben, she learned she was HIV positive. DeVries was 27, extraordinarily beautiful, and her life was in ruins. She wrote in her diary: “Will they miss me when I’m gone or will their lives just carry on.”

ELM STREET-Vancouver's Missing Prostitutes
ELM STREET- P2
ELM STREET- P3
ELM STREET ARTICLE- P4
ELM STREET article P5
ELM STREET article P6
ELM STREET article P7
ELM STREET article P9

 

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Updated: August 21, 2016