The Pickton verdict is in, but change still needed

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I am deeply concerned that with the conclusion of this trial, nothing will change.

Editor's note - Over the weekend, the verdict came in: Robert Pickton was convicted of six counts of Second Degree murder. He was later sentenced to life in prison, with no possibility of parole for 25 years.

The trial of the missing women is now concluded.

But still there are many issues that disturb our consciousness, and trouble societyabout the desperate situation that the missing women faced in their tragic lives.

First and foremost I express my deep sympathy and support to the family, friends andthe communities of the missing women, who endured their loss and faced the horrorsof a 10 month long trial that has been unprecedented in Canadian history, and waspreceded by many years of frustration, inaction, and denial by those in a positionto act.

With the conclusion and verdict of the trial, there are still many questions thatmust be answered.

Why did so many women go missing and why are sex workers, particularly, at suchgreat risk? Why are these women disproportionately Aboriginal women? Why did thesystem fail them, including law enforcement authorities, all levels of government,the judicial system, and public policy itself?

I am deeply concerned that with the conclusion of this trial, nothing will change.Sex workers will remain at risk without the minimum of their basic human needs beingmet. Harmful laws will continue to be enforced against sex workers, and conditionsof poverty, discrimination, racism, and violence will continue as well.

Surely the trial of the missing women must compel us to act, to seek answers andmake changes that will minimize the risk and harm that sex workers face.

I call on all governments to act in the memory of the many hundreds of women whohave gone missing across Canada. Needed changes must include law reform, improvedpolice training, and the security of basic human rights for housing, a livingincome, social supports and an end to violence.

I also call for a public inquiry into policing issues surrounding the missing women,to determine why it took so long to properly investigate the numerousdisappearances, and whether there was negligence and wrong doing by law enforcementofficials in carrying out their duties, and what crucial lessons must be carriedforward.

Healing the community that has grieved for so long and remembering the missing womenis a critical part of coming to terms with the enormity of what has taken place. Istrongly support community initiatives that are underway to remember the missingwomen and believe they help build a better understanding of what has happened.

Most of all, I want to see changes made at every level, so that the women who are atrisk today, will not be at risk tomorrow. No person in our society should experiencethe danger and risk that these women faced.

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