Women lived in ‘desperate circumstances'

Suzanne Fournier
The Province

Thursday, October 03, 2002

Sherry Leigh Irving was a smart, attractive girl of Stl'atl'imx aboriginal ancestry who excelled in track-and-field. Yesterday, she became the 15th alleged murder victim of Robert William Pickton.

(Sherry Leigh Irving)

Irving, born March 19, 1973, to a Canadian army officer and a native woman, was reported missing to the Stl'atl'imx tribal police in March 1998.

Sherry was sandwiched in age between her brothers, Chris, 25, and Will, 30, who still live with their families in the Stl'atl'imx territory near Mount Currie.

Will Irving said yesterday he "was expecting the worst, but it's still a shock."

Irving said he still misses his sister, who "was fun and loved rock music," but hadn't seen her since 1996, long after Sherry had gravitated at 19 to the drug-infested streets of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and New Westminster, where she was twice convicted of prostitution.

(Inga Monique Hall)

Two months ago, police took DNA from Sherry's relatives, said Will.

Sherry and her brothers grew up all over Canada, said her father, Wayne Irving, a retired army officer, but Sherry was "good at just about everything, school and sports."

Sherry's mother died in 1994.

Tanya Marlo Holyk was only 20 when she disappeared in 1996, the earliest alleged murder victim of Pickton.

Both Holyk and Irving were of aboriginal ancestry, as are a disproportionate number of the 63 missing women and seven of Pickton's alleged 15 victims, leaving aboriginal leaders sad and angered yesterday.

(Tanya Marlo Holyk)

Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, which represents the Stl'atl'imx, said: "Our hearts and prayers go out to all the victims' families, regardless of whether they're aboriginal, but the disproportionate number of aboriginal women among the victims must form one of the focuses of what needs to be a thoroughgoing inquiry.

"It reflects a dismissive and discriminatory attitude on the part of police agencies who didn't look as hard for these marginalized women as they would have if 63 women had disappeared from [the] British Properties over time."

Ernie Crey, a Sto:lo leader whose sister Dawn disappeared in 2000, said: "These women were forced to live in desperate and dangerous circumstances and they disappeared, yet for years police dismissed the notion of a serial killer at work. With 15 murder charges laid, almost half of them aboriginal women, I would hope police feel regret."

Musician Gary Bigg, fiancé of alleged murder victim Heather Chinnock, said yesterday he "was hurting pretty bad, like all the families must feel today."

(Heather Gabrielle Chinnock)

Bigg described Chinnock, whose teenaged son lives with relatives, as kind and honest.

Chinnock visited the Pickton farm to party "and meet her needs" many times over the last decade, treating the place as a refuge from her difficult days in the Surrey sex trade, Bigg said.

"Sometimes she'd come back from there and say it gave her nightmares, but she always went back."

Inga Monique Hall, born Jan. 25, 1952, among the four new alleged murder victims, was last seen in February 1998 and reported missing a month later.


Robert William Pickton was charged yesterday with the murders of four more of the 63 women missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Those women are:

Heather Gabrielle Chinnock: Born Nov. 10, 1970. She was last seen in April 2001 and reported missing the following June.

Inga Monique Hall: Born Jan. 25, 1952. She was last seen in February 1998 and reported missing in March 1998.

Tanya Marlo Holyk: Born on Dec. 8, 1975. She was last seen in October 1996 and reported missing in November 1997.

Sherry Leigh Irving: Born March 19, 1973. She was last seen in April 1997 and reported missing the following March.

Ran with fact box "Four new alleged victims", which has been appended to the story.

© Copyright  2002 The Province

Courtesy of

Help them while they're alive-Oct 4, 2002



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

Updated: August 21, 2016