The Missing Women's Commission of Inquiry

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The Missing Women's Commission of Inquiry

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Under a storm of controversy, the Missing Women's Commission of Inquiry has begun in B.C., looking into police investigations of serial killer Robert Pickton and their handling of reports of women missing from Vancouver's DTES.

Your host, Laura Wood, speaks with Native Women's Association of Canada president and long-time activist Jeannette Corbiere Lavell about the many challenges facing the commission and those participating, and about what needs to be done to ensure respect and safety for Aboriginal women.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I just got back from a DTES demonstration against gentrification. We ended at the Regent Hotel on Main Street where a woman was thrown out of an upper-floor window late last night. Almost exactly a year ago, the same thing happened to another Aboriginal woman, which the police ruled a suicide even though her shoes were said to have followed her out of the window a minute later. It's said to be the standing threat of drug dealers against women who fail to pay for the drugs they use. How long before we get a commisson on missing women for these deaths?

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

While it isn’t known exactly what happened to Simard, who was a 50 year old Indigenous woman, many theories floated around the streets as residents participated in the fifth annual Women’s Housing March.

The only certainty seemed to be that Simard‘s death wasn’t an isolated event, but something that could only be understood in the context of extreme violence and ongoing murders of women, which have haunted the neighborhood since convicted mass murderer Robert Pickton roamed the streets.

“Nothing’s changed, if anything it seems to have gotten more harsh for the women living in SROs,” said Carol Martin, a community based victim services worker with the Downtown East Side Women’s Centre. Martin was down the street at the Carnegie Centre when Simard was killed, and Saturday afternoon she was still reeling from what she had seen when she went to the Regent after hearing of Simard's death.

People were “freaked right out” said Martin, sitting down under a small tent beside the main stage on Hastings Street, where scheduled events continued into the evening. “I was in shock, I couldn’t walk away.”

One year and one day before Martin saw Simard's body lying beside the Regent , she witnessed 22 year old Ashley Machiskinic, who was also Indigenous, fall to her death in the alley behind the same hotel.

RIP, Verna Simard



It seems that some people don't want the whole truth to be told ... VANCOUVER — A lawyer representing the families of missing or murdered women at the inquiry into the bungled police investigation of serial killer Robert William “Willie” Pickton demanded Monday that police and government be compelled to produce a wide array of documents. ... Chantler argued the inquiry should have such crucial RCMP documents as profiles done of both Robert and his brother Dave Pickton and the Hell’s Angels cohorts or hangers-on at the Pickton family business, the after-hours drinking spot Piggy’s Palace. (Dave Pickton’s nickname was Piggy and Piggy’s Palace was frequented by many off-duty officers and even municipal politicians.) Yet RCMP files on the Picktons still have not been disclosed in their entirety, and the RCMP has retained the right to heavily redact most documents before disclosure, said Chantler. ... Commission head Wally Oppal heard the complaints about disclosure made by Chantler and lawyers Jason Gratl and Robyn Gervais, on behalf of First Nations and Downtown Eastside groups, but has issued no ruling. He said the inquiry already has generated “200,000 pages of disclosure” and indicated he intends to stick to a strict timetable of concluding hearings by the end of April. I'm not optimistic about the integrity of this inquiry, but at least the media seems to be trying to expose the bias, even the national post.It's the first time -'ve seen the information about the Piickton's clientele in the news, though it's common knowledge that politicians, law enforcement and justice officials frequented the place., and have a stake in hiding information. Thoughts are with the families of the victims, none of whom were given standing at the inquiry.


Hundreds of demonstrators - maybe more than a thousand - marched yesterday in Montréal to demand action on missing Aboriginal women... and I can't find any MSM reports to link to!

ETA: [url= was the announcement, but no reports yet that I can find. Help!



just discovered this little nugget when i went to the news site from a link about somethin else and am feeling like nothing will happen in this investigation about the investigation. Her law firm is not on the side of workers and exploited people. The 2 men pretending "outrage" are just WAFI.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Police excuses on why they failed to catch serial killer pile up at inquiry


APTN National News
In Vancouver, the Missing Women’s Inquiry is holding their final days of testimony.

Once again, three retired Vancouver officers repeated the familiar claim that the failure to catch serial killer Robert Pickton was due to a lack of resources and senior officers being slow to realize a serial killer was at work.

As APTN National News reporter Rob Smith tells us, this comes just one day after the lawyer for the victims’ families called the inquiry a fiasco.


'The Missing Women's Commission of Inquiry is Patently Incomplete': Why BC Shut Down the Missing Women's Inquiry


RCMP Officer Jim Brown is a Sexual Sadist - So What's the Big Deal?  by Cameron Ward

..."The Missing Women's Commission of Inquiry is patently incomplete..."


Missing Women's Inquiry a 'Fiasco' Says Lawyer For Families of Victims (and vid)

"On the stand Wednesday were three retired Vancouver police officers with a combined experience of 15 years working on the Pickton case. The victims' families' lawyer was granted an hour and a half to ask his questions.."

clearly a coverup -  there must be a full and public inquiry into all aspects of this case..


It was supposed to be an inquiry into missing women.

It turned out to be a missing inquiry.


The murders happened on the Chairs watch as Attorney General.  He is a biased arrogant asshole who is there to cover up for his friend. When he was appointed I knew that nothing would come out of the Inquiry that would implicate anyone in the justice system.


that was why he was appointed.


The report was released today:

[url= "bias" blamed in Missing Women report[/url]

If the missing women had been from Vancouver’s posh west side instead of sex-trade workers from the beleaguered Downtown Eastside, the police probe into serial killer Robert Pickton would likely have wrapped up sooner, according to the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry report released Monday.

In his long-awaited report, inquiry commissioner Wally Oppal found the vicious pig farmer’s victims were “forsaken twice” — once by society at large and again by police.

The 1,448-page report entitled “Forsaken” — which was highly critical of police — stated police bias and failures mirrored “the general public and political indifference to the missing women.”

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

CBC carried over an hour of Oppal's presentation today. A lot of interruptions from an audience quite angry. A lot of applause when he condemned the various police forces for basic incompetence.


It's pretty incredible that, given what a shtshow the inquiry itself was, how many people were excluded and such, it still managed to arrive largely at the right place. (Yes there are still some criticisms, very valid ones, - I am not discounting them, and the shut out voices should be heard.)

But you know what they say, even a broken clock is right twice a day.


It is shocking, but just as shocking is the seeming refusal to seek out the other culprits. Does anyone actually think Willy Picton committed all these horrible crimes all alone? 


Could be Lagatta.  With some notable exceptions (Charles Ng, for one), serial killers rarely kill with a partner or active accomplice. Passive, yes, but not actively involved.

From what I've read, little effort has been made to ascertain whether Picton did have help.  Could be that the stats on serial killer duos didn't support an effort in investigating, but all things considered I'd have to say that it's a bloody miracle that the investigations have gone this far. 

I have to ask myself how it is that in 19th century London the murder of half a dozen women - likely not professional prostitutes but rather women who simply needed to survive in an environment hostile to women, at best (not unlike Picton's victims) - received so much attention by law enforcement when dozens of women, on Vancouver's Downtown East Side and on the Highway of Tears, go missing or turn up dead with only a superficial investigation.

The fact of the matter is, in this day and age the career of a serial killer who targets middle class white women is likely to be shorter than the one who targets contemporary society's most vulnerable (ie. disposable) people.


Oppal did not arrive at the right place. He did not name any officials who fucked up. He did not give any idea as to how to combat the systemic racism in the police and government.  He mainly said lets have one regional police force. A move that will do zero for righting the systemic discrimination.  Strangely the right wing have been pushing for a regional police force since Wally was Attorney General.

He did his job and wrote a white wash report that leaves him and his government out of the picture as one of the main causes of systemic racism.


Roughly 100 women in the audience for Oppal's speech drummed, sang and heckled through parts of his announcement, shouting, "Women's organizations were shut out of this inquiry," and, "What a lie!"

Aboriginal and women's organizations immediately decried Oppal's report, saying that their exclusion from the inquiry -- after the province denied them legal funding early on, despite roughly 25 publicly funded government lawyers -- was an example of dismissive attitudes that would prevent the implementation of its recommendations.

"I'm disappointed by this report," said Marlene George, with the Women's Memorial March Committee. "Unless the sexism, racism and that way of thinking inherent in police agencies changes, there will not be any safe place for women and girls in this province.

"As an Indigenous woman, every day, our people are experiencing that sexism and racism that's being played out... Everything will remain status quo, as it has in the past and as it will in the future, unless there is some real change to come, not from just within the people of the Downtown Eastside... but for every single person in the province. They have to put violence against women and girls at the forefront of their thinking."


Thanks for adding to that.

I think the metaphor still applies pretty well... a broken clock is right twice a day (and only twice a day).

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

After following the Inquiry, I came to the idea that something much darker than just police incompetence was at work here.  The events following the aggravated sexual assault charge against Picton that was dropped by the Crown was one wierd episode.  The cop-- unrelated to the investigation that just dropped by Picton's cell to tip him off that he was being looked at by some other cops in connection to other murders.  The fact that the Crown dropped the case.  And that the file that was never to be destroyed somehow got destroyed.  

That's what Oppal was covering up.  Pickton was an informer being protected by police and the Crown.  And whatever value he provided them trumped the murders they knew he was committing.  



I read when I going through my first degree back in Toronto a decade ago

I was having a meltdown because when I went to look up this book today it showed the publish date as 2008 and that didn't add up

luckily it turns out author Maggie De Vries has a second book about her sister to follow up the first one no doubtly sharing some experience with this decade of failure.

also, it doesn't feel good personally to have initiated my book search with his name; it shouldn't be that way


Two more Aboriginal women missing from Kitigan Zibi reserve, near Maniwaki in western Québec:

Police are looking into the disappearance of two women from the Kitigan Zibi reserve in western Quebec who were last seen Sunday morning.

Nicole Hannah Whiteduck and Laura Spence were last seen on the reserve in Maniwaki, about 130 kilometres north of Ottawa, three days ago.

Both women, who are good friends and mothers, have brown hair. Whiteduck, 31, has a tattoo on her left shoulder, while Spence, 32, is a mother of four including a three-month-old.

The pair had gone out the night before their disappearance, according to Bridget Tolley, Spence's mother. She also said they left their money, wallets and cellphones at home.

Hope they are found safe and sound. Alas, there are some nasty comments on the site, although it is moderated...


damn....hope they're found alive. not going to read the page. had enough reading and hearing racist comments during the anti-fracking protests.