VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Maggie de Vries - Author
Book | 256 pages | ISBN 0143013718 | 14 Aug 2003 | Penguin Canada
On April 14, 1998, Sarah de Vries disappeared from the corner of Princess and Hastings in Vancouver. She became one of the many women who had vanished from the Downtown Eastside, women—most of them prostitutes or drug addicts—whose fate was all but ignored by the authorities. Years went by, women continued to disappear, and there were no answers for their families.
For the women who disappeared did have families. They were loved, they had friends, they had lives that began long before their terrible end. And Maggie de Vries’s sister Sarah was one of them.
Although Sarah and Maggie shared a comfortable, middle-class upbringing, Sarah, adopted as an infant, was black, while the rest of her family was white; and so she alone was the victim of racist taunts and prejudice. As Sarah reached adolescence, her troubles grew. She ran away from home. She became addicted to drugs. She ended up on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. But always she was loved.
Missing Sarah, which incorporates excerpts from Sarah’s journals, is Maggie de Vries’s story of her search for her sister. From those journals, and from the recollections of people who knew Sarah during her 14 years downtown, emerges a portrait of a bright, funny and sensitive woman who found herself trapped in a downward spiral of self-loathing, prostitution, drugs and violence.
From the moment Sarah disappeared, her sister never stopped looking for her. Even after Sarah’s DNA was discovered at Robert Pickton’s farm, and hope was replaced by grim certainty, Maggie continued her search. This time she was looking for answers. Why did so many women have to disappear before the authorities took notice? Was there any way Sarah could have been saved from her life on the streets? And what can we do to help those women who are still trapped, by chance or circumstance, in the same bleak world that Sarah de Vries once inhabited?
Sarah spent much of her time at my home in Vancouver. For Sarah this was her home and refuge from
the downtown eastside. During these times she was able to continue her journaling and sketching in a peaceful
and quiet place. When Sarah disappeared in April of 1998 I began the search to find her and started this website
in her memory. In honor of my missing friend, I personally turned over her many journals and sketches to her sister
Maggie and traveled to Guelph Ontario to give her mother Pat and her children Jeanie and Ben the rest of Sarah's
personal belongings. It was through Sarah's many journals that the book 'Missing Sarah' came to be written.
I am grateful to have been a part of Sarah's life and to have been able to share my feelings for her in
Sarah will live forever in my heart. Peace always, Wayne
Updated: August 21, 2016