Sombre Valentine’s Day for families of missing women

Saturday February 14, 2004


VANCOUVER (CP) - Saturday was a tearful Valentine's Day for the families of the more than 60 women who went missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

Melancholic sobs punctuated joyful tales of women who loved to dance or paint, but who also lived hard, painful lives plagued by drugs and prostitution.

About 500 people turned out for the 13th annual march in memory of women who have vanished from the drug-infested and poverty-stricken neighbourhood.

The crowd packed a small room at the Carnegie Library to hear the relatives of the missing women speak.

Many of those who spoke had only recently been told by police that a family member's DNA had been found on at a Port Coquitlam pig farm owned by accused serial killer Robert Pickon and his two siblings.

Pickton, 54 has been charged with 15 counts of first degree murder in connection with the disappearances. Prosecutors say he could face seven more.

Val Hughes, who works with the Missing Women's Legacy Society was informed in January that her sister Kerry Koski's DNA was found on the farm.

She said it was important to stand together to stop violence against women and children.

Hughes said her sister's name was "just one name amongst too many names."

Ernie Crey, who was told Jan. 15 that his sister Dawn's DNA was found at the Pickton farm also spoke at the "Their Spirits Live Within Us" march.

Crey, whose family held a memorial for Dawn two weeks ago in Chilliwack, said he came "to walk for justice," he said.

Cara Ellis' DNA was also found at the farm. Her sister-in-law Lori Ann Ellis said her family was still in too much shock to plan a memorial.

"As I held Cara's mother in my arms, she said to me: 'My baby's gone.' The loss to our family is tremendous," Ellis said fighting tears.

Pickton is also accused of killing Sherry Irving. Two of her family members sang a warrior prayer song dedicated to all the missing women.

Terri Brown, president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, detailed a campaign to lobby Ottawa for funding to fight violence against aboriginal women.

She said the 'Sisters in Spirit' campaign will be launched March 22. The group intends to ask Ottawa to set up a $10-million fund for public education to stop violence against aboriginal women, and create a hotline and registry.

After the sombre ceremony the crowd marched through Vancouver's skid row banging drums and dropping red and yellow roses at the last place each woman was seen.

Copyright © 2004 940 News

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Missing Women Tip Line: 1-877-687-3377

Updated: August 21, 2016