Room Full of Missing Women

Prince George art show featuring 50 women who have disappeared


September 30, 2007

Danielle Boudreau was still reeling, two days later.

The Edmonton woman was in Prince George for Thursday’s opening of Room Full of Missing Women, an ambitious show at the Two Rivers Art Gallery.

“It was awesome,” she finally said, after several moments of stammering in search of words. “That doesn’t even capture it. I can’t find an appropriate way to describe it.”

The show, by B.C. artist and social activist Betty Kovacic, depicts 50 women who disappeared off the streets of Vancouver’s gritty Downtown Eastside. One of them was Edmonton’s Georgina Papin, whose accused killer, Robert Pickton, is on trial for first-degree murder for the deaths of six women.

He will be tried for the deaths of 20 more women at a later date.

Kovacic painted each woman’s portrait, gleaned from photos in the media and obtained from some individuals’ families. A local musician also wrote a brief instrumental piece to go along with each of the portraits.

The show also included dozens of mannequins wrapped in black shrouds, which also had written on them the hopes and dreams of local women.

The effect, said Boudreau, was “eerie, but it also gave each of these women a voice of sorts. They were no longer just nameless victims. It was awesome.”

The sheer number of portraits, which were roughly life-size, had an overwhelming effect, Boudreau added.

Kovacic said she was overwhelmed by the public response. The opening night attracted upwards of 450 people from all segments of the community and media.

“It was very, very good,” she told Sun Media. “ I was amazed. I’m not used to this kind of attention.”

Boudreau, who for the last two years has organized a Valentine’s Day march through the inner city in honour of women who’ve gone missing from our city’s streets, was one of several Edmonton women invited to the opening in Prince George.

So was Kathy King, acting head of the Prostitution Action and Awareness Foundation of Edmonton (PAAFE), which helps local women get out of the sex trade.

They’re both on a committee working to bring Kovacic’s show to Edmonton in 2008.

Kovacic said she began the project in 2002, shortly after the horror began unfolding on Pickton’s Port Coquitlam, B.C. pig farm. Police were unearthing the remains of dozens of women, who had led troubled lives and were all connected to the Downtown Eastside. Many had drug problems or were in some way involved in prostitution.

But the issue of exploited and missing women, Kovacic said, “transcends the east side of Vancouver. It’s an issue right across Canada.”

Since the early 1980s, 28 women living high-risk lifestyles have been slain in the Edmonton area, according to PAAFE. 

Copyright © 2007, Canoe Inc. All rights reserved.

A Roomful of Missing Women

Portraits inspired by pain

Betty Kovacic and A Roomful of Missing Women



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

Updated: August 21, 2016