Families of missing women divided over tribute

Suzanne Fournier
The Province

Thursday, May 30, 2002

A fundraising and education drive by supporters of the "official" missing-women's trust fund has begun with an outreach to Port Coquitlam students.

Val Hughes, a signing officer for the trust fund and spokeswoman for what she calls "the vast majority" of the families of the 54 missing women, has ambitious plans for drug and alcohol education, a rapid opiate detox centre on the Downtown Eastside and a rural transition or rehabilitation centre where clients could stay for up to a year.

"We had four teenagers come to the pig farm and light candles in honour of our missing women, and we were so touched we offered to come to their Archbishop Carney School in Port Coquitlam, talk about how our loved ones came to be on the Downtown Eastside and the dangers of alcohol abuse and drug addiction," said Hughes, sister of Kerry Koski, missing since 1997.

The trust fund has five signing officers, including three family members and two board members of the Vancouver Police Department's native-liaison unit, Edna Brass and Olive Olajide.

Hughes opposes the use of the phrase "a tribute to missing women," used by the Buried Heart project as the title of a fundraising musical tribute launched by local musician Wyckham Porteous.

He has enlisted musicians such as Colin James, Blue Rodeo and the B Good Tanyas and has requested the participation of Nelly Furtado and Sarah MacLachlan.

"The missing women are us, and the families who have been at this for years, looking for our loved ones," said Hughes. "The musicians have refused to even donate a small amount to us so we want them to quit using our name."

Porteous, reached in Toronto, where he has been recording, said Buried Heart will continue "separate from whatever the families are doing," and will give proceeds to the Via Nova Foundation for a rehab centre. "We will continue our fundraising as a tribute to the missing women and to support the . . . Via Nova Foundation to help other women troubled by drug addiction," he said.

Via Nova vice-president Rev. Michael Batten, of the St. James United Church, said the society has well-developed plans for a post-detox rehabilitation centre "and we're very grateful for the support of Buried Heart and we wish the families all the best as well."

Not all family members of missing women agree with Hughes.

"I'm satisfied the Via Nova Foundation is a very legitimate group and I support them more than this so-called Missing Women's Trust Fund that many of the families don't even know about," said Deborah Jardine, mother of Angela Jardine, missing since 1997.

"I can't tell people to donate to this fund because I know nothing about it and I speak for many other of the family members."

 Copyright  2002 The Province

Courtesy of The Province



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Updated: August 21, 2016