Memoir about missing Vancouver woman wins lit award

Last Updated Thu, 15 Jul 2004 14:30:40 EDT

VANCOUVER - Missing Sarah, a book about one of Vancouver's missing women, has been named the winner of a new literary award.

Writer, editor and teacher Maggie de Vries has won the inaugural George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Canadian Literature for Missing Sarah.

"It's exciting and wonderful, and yet the whole reason for it is so tragic," de Vries told CBC News. In her book, de Vries tells the story of her sister, drawing on interviews with Sarah's friends from the city's Downtown Eastside as well as from Sarah's own journals, poems and stories.

"Ever since Sarah disappeared, I've wanted people to see her, and remind people that each of these women has a story," de Vries said.

Sarah de Vries disappeared in April 1998. Her DNA was later found, along with that of other missing women, on a farm outside of Vancouver in 2002.

      FROM AUG. 8, 2002: Missing woman's DNA found at Port Coquitlam farm, sister says

Robert Pickton is awaiting trial on 15 counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of more than 60 women, most of them prostitutes and drug addicts, who have disappeared from the Downtown Eastside since the 1980s.

      IN DEPTH: The Missing Women of Vancouver

      FROM JUNE 28, 2004: No trial for Pickton until 2005, lawyers say

Writing Missing Sarah, which was also shortlisted for a 2003 Governor General's Literary Award, has helped de Vries rediscover her sister.

"Almost all the words I read are hers, so she's present right inside me in a way that normally a person who has died is not."

The George Ryga Award was named for the late Alberta-born, B.C.-based playwright. Ryga, who died in 1987, is known for his play The Ecstasy of Rita Joe and other works that emphasize social commentary.

Rita Joe, which tells the story of a young aboriginal woman's demise after she moves to an urban centre, is considered one of the first significant works about native Canadians to be mounted onstage.

Written by CBC News Online staff

Copyright 2004 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation - All Rights Reserved



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Updated: August 21, 2016