VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Police confirm ID of 'missing' woman
CRIME I Linda Louise Grant, living in the U.S. since 1983, taken off Downtown Eastside list
Saturday, June 10, 2006
The police tally of women who vanished from the Downtown Eastside dropped to 67 names Friday after the RCMP officially removed Linda Louise Grant from the missing women list.
CREDIT: Ian Lindsay, Vancouver Sun
Dawn Grant is on her way Monday to meet her mother Linda (left) who now lives in Oklahoma and was listed as missing in Vancouver since October of 1984. Dawn's flight is being paid by a local businessman.
The Vancouver Sun reported Wednesday that Grant was living in the southern U.S., despite being listed on the police poster as missing since 1984.
A RCMP investigation has confirmed Grant's identity, and her picture will be taken off the missing women poster when it is next reprinted, said RCMP Cpl. Tom Seaman.
"Any time somebody has been reported missing for some time and they turn up alive and well, that's a good conclusion," Seaman said.
When contacted earlier this week by The Sun, Linda Grant said she didn't know her family had reported her missing after she left Canada in 1983. She said she didn't realize her name had been added to the poster in 2002 and desperately wanted it removed.
Now she can celebrate with her daughter Dawn Grant, of Surrey, who is planning to fly to the U.S. to see her mother for the first time in 23 years.
"I can't wait. There will be a lot of tears," said Dawn Grant, 28. "I just want to hug her."
When Linda Grant surfaced last week after remaining silent for more than two decades, her daughter wanted nothing more than to see her mother again. But Dawn Grant, a telemarketer and the mother of a young son, couldn't afford the airfare to the southern U.S. city where Linda Grant lives.
When Eli Gershkovitch, president of the popular Steamworks Brewing Co., read about the young woman's plight, he immediately offered to arrange her flight.
"I think he's an angel. I can't believe somebody can be that nice out there," an emotional Dawn Grant said.
In an interview last week, Linda Grant said she left behind a troubled life in Canada in 1983 after losing custody of her two young daughters, Dawn and her oldest daughter.
She said she was rebuffed when she made one attempt to re-connect with a family member in 1984, and since then has built a new life for herself in the U.S. She remarried, had three more daughters, and owned her own business.
Living in an area where Canadian news is scarce, she just recently heard about Port Coquitlam pig farmer Robert (Willy) Pickton, who is charged with killing 26 of the women listed as missing from the Downtown Eastside.
Because she is originally from Port Moody, Linda Grant surfed the web Monday to learn more about Pickton. What she discovered was her own face on the police poster of missing women.
That revelation led her to a missing women website where Dawn Grant had posted notes looking for more information about her mother. Over the past five days, Linda Grant has also begun to communicate again with her siblings, father, and another daughter Briana, whom she gave up for adoption before fleeing to the U.S.
And now Gershkovitch has arranged a flight for Dawn Grant to meet her mother face-to-face for the first time since she was a young girl of five or six.
"Her story just connected with me on a very personal level, that I could imagine how she would feel. I could truly empathize with her need and desire to meet her mom," Gershkovitch said.
The businessman has accumulated so many points for airline travel that he can't use them all. After booking a ticket for Dawn, he said he was inspired to help more people in need under special circumstances.
So, he has now created the Steamworks Wings of Hope Foundation, through which people can e-mail him at email@example.com and ask for assistance if they desperately need to fly somewhere for a worthy cause but can't afford it.
Gershkovitch, who has supported other charitable and community initiatives, hopes his private foundation will "inspire others to be equally creative in doing good works."
It is not just her mother with whom Dawn Grant is thrilled to be re-connecting, but she also can't wait to meet her three teenage half-sisters.
"My sisters are so excited to see me, and my mother is very emotional," she said. "I'm still in shock."
Dawn Grant -- who said she wondered as a child where her mother could be, and feared as an adult that she had been killed, like some of the other missing women -- found letters this week that she wrote to her mother years ago.
"Now I finally get to give them to her," she said.
(She has asked The Sun, for privacy reasons, not to publish details of when she is flying to see her mother, or the U.S. city where Linda Grant lives. Other members of the Grant family also request privacy as they make arrangements for reunification with Linda Grant, the RCMP said.)
Dawn Grant said she is not bitter about 23 lost years, but instead is looking forward to getting to know her mother again.
"I'm a grown-up. I don't care about what happened in the past. I care about the future," she said.
The list of women missing from the Downtown Eastside climbed in recent years to 69 names. In May 2005 Tammy Fairbairn was removed after police discovered she was living in central Canada. The removal of Linda Grant puts the tally at 67 names.
Pickton has been charged with murdering 26 of those women. The whereabouts of the remaining 41, who were reported missing between 1978 and 2001, are unknown, but their cases are still under investigation, the RCMP say.
However, whether any more are living elsewhere unbeknown to police is pure speculation at this time, said Seaman.
"We always hope for more positive outcomes like this," he added.
It is difficult for police to track down missing people, he said, if they don't want to be found because they have left behind a troubled life.
"In some cases that is part of the problem. You can understand where some of these women are coming from, but if they know they have been reported missing it would be beneficial if they let us know that they're okay," Seaman said.
© The Vancouver Sun 2006
Woman who vanished found alive in U.S. - June 7, 2006
Updated: January 01, 2007