VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Inquiry witness was only eight when she began to learn the grotesque details of her mother's death
BY SUZANNE FOURNIER, THE PROVINCE October 27, 2011
Angel Wolfe, an 18-year-old Toronto student, told the Missing Women Commission of InquiryThursday she was only eight years old when police “very coldly” told her they thought her mother’s remains had been found on a pig farm.
Then police “interrogated” her and left her to find out from the media, as a child and then as a teen, all the “grotesque” details of the murder of her mother Brenda Wolfe and other women by serial killer Robert Pickton.
Today Angel is a strong, confident young woman, who read a statement to the inquiry calling for rights and redress for the children of the many missing and murdered women. The inquiry is addressing police handling of the cases between 1997 and 2002, when Pickton was finally arrested when Coquitlam RCMP stumbled over evidence of missing women while searching for firearms at the Pickton farm in Port Coquitlam.
Angel said the trauma of her mother’s disappearance and death was compounded by police “letting this monster” Pickton troll the Downtown Eastside for victims for decades “because my mother and many of the other women were poor, First Nations in the high-risk street sex trade.”
“I didn’t know what happened between when I was six and my mother’s last call to her death,” said Wolfe.
“I felt like I’d been punched in the face,” said Wolfe. “I didn’t know why no one wanted to protect these women.”
Wolfe ran away from an abusive Ontario foster home and at 15 found her own way back to the stepmother she’d lived with as a child, before her father abandoned the family.
Bridget Perrier, Angel’s stepmother, said she and Angel now give a course to social workers and police called “Sex Trade 101,” to gain respect for women forced into prostitution by poverty or addiction.
Angel is also outraged that last July, after Pickton’s life sentence was upheld for the murder of her mother and five other women, she finally got a visit from the Missing Women Task Force. They offered her $10,000 from the B.C. Criminal Injuries Compensation Branch for the death of her mother.
“The fine print though said you had to give up all future legal action and claims,” said Wolfe. She refused to sign, saying “No one can put a price tag on my mother’s death. She’ll never see me graduate, walk down the aisle or give birth.”
Wolfe is now lobbying for First Nations counsellors and other resources such as education benefits for the children of the missing women.
“I had a horrible childhood in some ways but I’m very lucky to live now with Bridget and a family that loves me,” said Wolfe, who is also a teen delegate to the aboriginal Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian residential schools.
Meanwhile, the Missing Women Inquiry is already running out of time and will require government action to extend its timetable.
Families of 18 murdered women who have travelled from other cities and provinces are upset that they will not get a chance to speak to the inquiry. Only four days have been set aside to hear the wrenching testimony of family members, some of whom have never spoken publicly of how, when and why their loved ones vanished and then how they found out those women had been murdered.
The majority of families of 33 murdered women linked by DNA to convicted serial killer Robert Pickton have never even found out details of their loved ones’ deaths, nor have 27 of those cases ever been heard in a court of law.
It will require an order-in-council from the B.C. government to extend the inquiry, slated to halt hearings on Dec. 1. Next week will begin a long roster of VPD and RCMP witnesses, who will take weeks. Some families have been told they may be recalled as witnesses in January, 2012, although Commissioner Wally Oppal had pledged to hand in his report by the end of 2011.
© Copyright (c) The Province
Updated: January 01, 2007