VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Where Have 31 Vancouver Women Gone?
Courtesy of CTV Canada AM, May 2, 2001
And with us from Vancouver: Sandra Gagnon and Ernie Crey, both of whose sisters are on that list.
Hi, you two.
CREY: Good morning.
PRINGLE: Ernie, your sister Dawn's name was one of the three just placed on that list. Tell me about her and what happened to her.
CREY: My sister Dawn was 42 years of age and she was reported in late November-early December as missing. A doctor that she regularly received prescriptions from in the East End took note that she wasn't coming in for her prescription on a regular basis. And I suppose he had his suspicions. And I take it that he reported Dawn as potentially missing to the Vancouver city police and then they started an enquiry and made contact with other members of my family.
And now, obviously, they have confirmed that she has gone missing. And no one in the family or anyone who knows her has seen her or heard from her in these many months.
PRINGLE: How did you feel about her name being added to that list?
CREY: Well, it has affected me deeply as it has our entire family. She has seven brothers and sisters and we all care very deeply about her. She has lived a difficult life on the streets and sometimes we lost contact with her. But she has had a regular contact with some of my younger brothers and sisters. And they are very troubled by this and very upset and very concerned and hopeful that we will get word about her sometime in the near future.
We're also happy to learn that the RCMP are now involved and are coordinating -- apparently coordinating -- some efforts with the Vancouver city police in a broader investigation into the disappearance of not only my sister but the many other women who have gone missing from the East End of Vancouver.
PRINGLE: Well, Sandra, your sister has been gone for such a long time -- since '97. She has been on the list for a while.
GAGNON: Yeah, actually, it's really hard to believe. I was just saying to Ernie that it is going to be four years June 25 that she has been missing. But I will never give up trying to find out what happened to her or who is responsible for taking her.
PRINGLE: And her daughter is now 16 years old?
GAGNON: Yeah, she just turned 16. And she's going to school. She is doing pretty well.
PRINGLE: But you have lost three sisters!
PRINGLE: Four sisters!
GAGNON: My sister Dorothy just died last week at Vancouver General Hospital. And we just came back from Alert Bay from that. And I blame it on the stress of losing my sister too, because my sister had diabetes. She shouldn't have been under all the stress that she went through.
PRINGLE: Are you satisfied at all with how this case has progressed and what police have been able to find? I mean, early on there was much criticism that the Vancouver police weren't attacking this aggressively enough and there was a feeling that because many of these women were drug addicts or prostitutes that they were in effect being discriminated against.
GAGNON: Well, with my sister Janet, with everything I've heard who she has hung around with and everything I have given all the information to the Vancouver city police. And as far as I know they have contacted the people that she hung around with and all of the stuff that I've heard that might have happened to her.
PRINGLE: What do you think happened?
GAGNON: I think someone obviously is responsible for her disappearance. This person needs to be taken off the streets, or found, because the women are going to continue to go missing. Obviously something happened.
PRINGLE: Do you think it's a serial killer? Do you think one or a couple of people are responsible for all the disappearances?
GAGNON: I have a feeling that there are couple of people responsible. And I just hope that we find them soon so that families like us don't have to suffer.
PRINGLE: So many of the families, Ernie -- and maybe you want to speak to this because you have done so much work in fisheries and as a spokesperson for your people -- but a lot of these women are native. What does that do to the community? And how does the community respond?
CREY: The community, the aboriginal community in British Columbia and the community here in Vancouver, I know their hearts go out to the families of all of the missing women. I know that they have been in touch with me and they have told me so. I do know that early on back in February we had some great concerns that the Vancouver city police perhaps weren't doing as much as they could do. In fact --
PRINGLE: Did you feel that?
CREY: In fact, they advised the public that they were scaling back their efforts in their investigations of the disappearance of these women. And that caused me a great deal of concern, and my family and the aboriginal community in British Columbia. We have to keep in mind that these women come from families that whilst they may have been poor and living in a difficult part of the city that they still are people with families and --
PRINGLE: And they're still people.
CREY: That's right. And we like to believe that regardless of what rung you might occupy on the economic ladder that if you have been the victim of crime or if you have been the victim of what appears to be a serial killer or serial killers here, that the police here in the city of Vancouver and now the RCMP will do their utmost best in investigating it and bringing perpetrators of the crimes, if indeed this is what it is, to justice.
PRINGLE: What are your thoughts on that though? Do you think it is a serial killer? What do you think happened to your sister?
CREY: It's hard to imagine that this isn't the case. It may very well be that there are one or more people involved in the disappearance of my sister and the other women. And the sooner the police get to the bottom of this -- and to do that they will need to redouble their efforts, and my view -- to find those people, that person or those people that are responsible for the disappearance of these women, that needs to be done.
PRINGLE: But the number is staggering though! I mean even if that is the final number. Thirty-one never seen again. No bodies found. Vanished.
CREY: That's right. The implications are staggering. The tragedy is profound. And, as you can tell, many families have been impacted by this. And it really is an issue that the city of Vancouver and the citizens of British Columbia really need to sit up and take notice of. They need to recognize that whilst these women come from a particular part of the city of Vancouver, that that's really immaterial. They really should be urging their police forces to mount every effort to find out what has become of these women.
PRINGLE: Yeah. Well, as I say, my sympathies to both of you. A hideous situation to be in. And particularly Sandra now, given what else is happening in your life.
So, people if they have any information, there is the number they can call. [on screen: 1-800-993-8799]
The police and RCMP are soliciting as much information as they can. And I suppose the warning has got to go out to all the women in that area as well because they are certainly at risk.
Thank you both very much.
CREY: Oh, you're very welcome.
GAGNON: You're welcome.
Updated: August 21, 2016