The Ottawa Citizen
Saturday Feb 9, 2002
Just another day,
Just another death,
Just another Hastings Street Whore
Sentenced to death.
When she wasn't working as a prostitute in Vancouver's downtown east side, or
wracked in the throes of heroin addiction, Sarah deVries was a poet.
The above lines are from a verse she wrote about four missing prostitutes,
acquaintances of hers, who began disappearing from Vancouver streets in 1983.
On April 14, 1998, while turning tricks at Hastings and Princess Streets, Ms. de
Vries became the fifth broken down angel, to go missing.
She was such a creative spirit, said her friend Wayne Leng, who posted Ms.
DeVries' poetry on the Internet after she went missing. The two met at a
Vancouver market in 1994 while Mr. Leng was visiting from California, and struck
up a conversation.
He was drawn by the beauty and warmth of a woman who had obviously endured many
They became friends, and she shared with him the journals of poetry and drawings
that helped express the pain of her life, and dreams for the future.
She was the strongest person I ever met, said Mr. Leng. Despite all the abuses
she'd suffered, she still wrote about seeing the beauty in people.
While her poems imagined the cruel fate of her colleagues and denounced
society's failure to investigate their disappearances, Ms. de Vries' drawings
illustrated the simple desires of a woman trapped by poverty and addiction.
She drew pictures of cars and women in fancy clothes, and of smiling suns with
teardrops streaming from their eyes.
After returning to the U.S., Mr. Leng spoke with his friend every three days,
and when she stopped calling, he instantly feared the worst.
He started the Web site
www.missingpeople.net to show the growing number of missing prostitutes were people with
feelings and families and beauty.
While Ms. deVries poems were an eerie premonition of her own fate, and of the 50
women who disappeared from the skids of downtown Vancouver, her words also sent
a powerful message:
It's not just another day,
It's not just another death.