VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Chose drugs over diapers, leaving
By Stephanie Levitz
In 1971, Alberta elected its first Conservative premier, Canada's first nuclear reactor fired up in Quebec and the formation of a band called Abba was about to ignite disco fever around the world.
That year, Floyd Sinclair met his dancing queen: Inga Monique Hall, a pretty, friendly prostitute who hung out at a lounge in Prince George, B.C.
For the next seven years, they drank, got stoned and hustled off the dance floor and onto the street, eventually ending up in Vancouver's east end.
``We lived mostly in hotels, ate fast food'' Sinclair said. ``It was a fast life.''
She loved to dance and many a night they'd be beneath a disco ball in some night club, bumping away.
Monique, as she was known, was a heroin addict who'd fled her home of Peterborough, Ont., when she was 14, Sinclair said.
Born in Germany, she'd come to Canada by boat when she was four years old.
She never talked to or of her parents, but Sinclair imagined they must have spoken German at home, because she could always understand a few words.
For Christmas, they'd exchange little gifts. She'd give him clothes, he'd give her jewelry. A favourite piece was a gold cross she'd wear around her neck.
By the time he met her, the 19-year-old had already been married, to an Edmonton fellow with the last name Hall. Sinclair thinks her maiden name was something like Teetman.
She also had a daughter, Crystal Kim, who Sinclair and his family knew as a young child but lost track of when she went to live with Hall's ex-husband's parents.
The last time anyone in Sinclair's family saw Crystal was seven years ago, when Sinclair's sister Cecile Anderson was strolling through the Londonderry Mall in Edmonton.
``Somebody tapped me on the shoulder . . .I looked and there was this blond chick,'' Anderson said. ``I said, do I know you? and she said, I'm Crystal.''
Crystal had long, blond hair, like her mother, Anderson said.
Or like her mother's used to be.
A year before Crystal and Anderson had their chance meeting at the mall, Hall, now 46, was reported missing, joining the sisterhood of women disappearing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
When Hall's picture appeared on the missing women's poster in 1999, gone were the bright blue eyes and blond hair, replaced by a dishwater-brown shaggy mop and vacant stare.
That picture _ and the news three years later that Robert Pickton had been charged with Hall's murder _ shattered her second daughter's dreams.
Dianna Hall was born to Monique and Sinclair in 1978 and her father has told her next to nothing about the woman who laboured for three hours at Vancouver General Hospital to bring her into the world.
``I always dreamed about meeting my mom,'' Dianna Hall said.
``I'd think about the first time we'd meet, I'd see what she was like, I could find out if I was like her.''
When Dianna's parents brought her home to their hotel, Sinclair changed her diapers and rocked her to sleep while Hall was back on the streets, selling her body to score drugs.
She could cook _ her specialty was a Kraft Dinner and canned pea casserole that Sinclair especially loved _ but she wasn't domestic.
Sinclair begged Hall to go clean and tried to get her to rehab for the sake of their daughter.
But as he looked at the baby girl, he said he knew the time had come to make a change.
``If Dianna wouldn't have come around, I'd have been dead,'' Sinclair said. ``It saved my life.''
With social services threatening to take away baby Dianna, Sinclair decided to leave.
``She (Monique) came with me to the airport, put the baby in my arms and said goodbye,'' Sinclair said.
``That was the last I ever heard of her.''
For the first few years after that, Dianna lived with Sinclair's sister, Lillian Reimer, in Prince George.
Sinclair would visit from time to time, but when he heard Dianna refer to Lillian as mom, he took her away to his family in Green Lake, Sask., where his mother became Dianna's.
Shortly after that, Reimer said, Hall came calling.
``After my brother had left, she came from Vancouver with some guy,'' said Reimer .
She said she told Hall the baby was in Saskatchewan and suggested she go visit her there.
But Hall went back to Vancouver.
Sinclair said he always sort of expected she'd turn up for a visit and he'd call around Prince George to see if anyone had heard from her.
The closest she came to surfacing was in 1987, when she was involved in a holdup at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce at the edge of downtown.
Dianna knew nothing of her mother until she was a teenager and a cousin spilled the beans.
Angry, she confronted her grandmother and father and was told the truth about who her mother really was.
Sinclair also handed over the only tangible memory he had, a picture taken on one of the days they went horseback riding in Vanderhoof, B.C.
``I have that and I have her temper and that's about all I've got,'' Dianna said.
``I know I'm different from her the way I was raised, I wasn't around drugs and I've made better decisions.''
As she watches her two children grow, Dianna said she always has Hall in the back of her mind, wondering if she is the same way with her children as her mother could have been with her.
And as she watches the siblings play together, she thinks of her own half-sister, Crystal, who she's never met.
``Part of me is missing and I'd really like to find it,'' she said.
``Maybe now it's finally time.''
© 2006 The Canadian Press
Updated: January 01, 2007