Tuesday, July 29
Jul 29, 2008 04:30 AM
Beverley Jacobs has heard all the talk, she's ready for action.
The 46-year-old president of the Native Women's Association of Canada – an affiliation of more than a dozen women's groups representing 600,000 native women in this country – kicks off a three-day conference in Yellowknife today with the question, "What are you going to do now?"
Violence against women, gender bias, and conflict with the law will all be discussed by the more than 150 delegates, with an eye to finding solutions, she says.
"To me, it's the action, creating change."
One of the most important things to know about Jacobs, a lawyer and grandmother, is that she leads by honouring and empowering others, says Mary Eberts, the human rights lawyer with whom Jacobs articled.
"I have been active in the women's movement for 30 years and a lawyer longer, but I have rarely seen that in a leader, that profound respect."
Soft-spoken, calm, serious and relentless in her demands for justice and respect, Jacobs' life has all of the sad twists and turns of many native women in Canada. And yet, she has thrived.
Sitting at her kitchen table on the Six Nations Reserve outside Caledonia, where the wide Grand River wends its way to Lake Erie and abundant corn and wheat crops ripen in the fields, Jacobs talks calmly of tragedy.
This is her ancestral home, with family members close by, but it is also the place where she suffered abuse at the hands of a relative when she was a young child. It is in this community that she withstood a violent relationship.
As a young single mother, she studied at Mohawk College to become a legal secretary, and after working in a series of Hamilton law offices, decided to go to law school herself. With child in tow, she attended the University of Windsor and then the University of Saskatchewan, obtaining LLB and LLM degrees.
Studying law was a gut-wrenching experience, she says, as she began to realize the ways the law had failed to protect native people and, in many cases, had been used against them, such as the Indian Act of 1876, which set up a system that discriminated against native women's land ownership and legal status.
"It really opened up for me how European and Canadian law was used as a tool of assimilation. I felt shock waves, to see what had been done to my people," she says. Although she wanted "to quit, to get out of there," Jacobs persisted in her studies, vowing to use the law "as a tool of healing."
She became a teacher and consultant, setting up shop in her converted garage. One of her jobs was with Amnesty International Canada, where she authored the Stolen Sisters report, on missing native women.
In 2000, she was an innocent bystander injured after a fight broke out in a Hamilton parking lot over a $3 parking fee. One of the combatants wielded a snow shovel whose blade snapped off and slammed into Jacobs forehead as she walked by.
Blood gushed from the jagged wound as she fell to her hands and knees.
"It was devastating, traumatizing," says Jacobs, who received 40 stitches and underwent plastic surgery but has a scar to this day. The incident, which ended in criminal charges, awoke memories of other violence in her life.
"I was doing really well and then this happened and it all came back. Some issues, we just have no control over."
She decided to take her advocacy to the next step – within the courts – and set out to fulfil the requirements to be called to the bar in Ontario. Jacobs approached Eberts for an articling position while attending a national conference on amendments to the Indian Act in 2002, where Jacobs presented a paper.
It was a tough commute from Caledonia to Toronto each day, says Eberts, but the only concession Jacobs ever asked for involved her traditional faith.
"As a faith-keeper in her community, she said, `I am not going to be able to work when we have ceremonies in our faith,'" says Eberts. "That was non-negotiable and she had a way of saying things like that. She has enormous integrity, and everything about her hangs together."
In 2004 she ran for the presidency of the Native Women's Association of Canada. Since then she has notched a number of achievements, including being present for the negotiations of the 2005 Kelowna Accord between native leaders and the federal government for improving the lives of natives, and organizing the first aboriginal women's summit, which took place in Newfoundland last year.
When Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized in June for abuse in residential schools, Jacobs was one of five native leaders to whom the apology was addressed. Her reply was gracious but she used the opportunity to call for change: "What is the government going to do in the future to help our people? Because we are dealing with major human rights violations that have occurred to many generations: my language, my culture and my spirituality."
Because there is still much to do.
Jacobs' 21-year-old niece went missing in January and was found dead, on the reserve, a few months later. A suspect has been charged with her death.
Touching the jade bears in her necklace for comfort, Jacobs says she has only recently regained her composure about the incident.
"I was really angry. It has taken a few months to be able to talk about it."
Travelling across the country at the time, talking about Canada's missing and murdered aboriginal women, she was not notified of her niece's absence for weeks. Jacobs sprang into action; police were contacted, searches were set up and a news conference was held.
Unfortunately, this is a story experienced by many native families, including those whose family members were suspected victims of Robert Pickton.
Jacobs picks up a traditional wooden mask, carved by B.C. artist Dick Baker to represent the spirits of missing and murdered women.
It is navy blue and silver and represents Grandmother Moon, she says, the spirit responsible for water, birth, women's cycles, the sky.
It is healing image and one she has taken to Yellowknife to inspire others and herself.
"It is water, life and sky," says Jacobs, "and she always travels with me."
© Copyright Toronto Star 1996-2008
Native Women's Association of Canada
Monday, July 28
Monday, July 28, 2008
Screen shot of a page from the U.S. website murderauction.com.
The Correctional Service of Canada is investigating how personal items belonging to Clifford Olson, Canada's most notorious serial killer, were put on sale in an online auction -- the second investigation of its kind in recent weeks regarding the child killer's presence on the web.
Letters, court documents, pornography and other personal items of Olson's are available for purchase on the U.S.-based website murderauction.com.
Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day has launched a probe to see how the items were obtained and to investigate how similar actions could be prevented in the future.
"I am concerned with the fact that an individual would consider making profit out of a heinous crime. I have asked Corrections Canada . . . to look into this specific case," Day said in a statement Monday.
In one auction listing, selling an alleged collection of the killer's pornography at a starting bid of $15 US, the seller claims to have had "a very fluid correspondence with Olson for around two years, which suddenly stopped mid-way through 2007."
"He [sent] me three boxes loaded with some truly odd items unlike anything else I have seen for sale . . . I am listing everything for sale, some individually and some in large bundles, all for great prices, so please check out my other auctions for more wacky items from Olson and pick up a bargain or two," claims the unnamed seller, who is only identified as nrs24985 and registered in Australia.
The minister's office said Corrections Canada has the legal authority to prohibit or restrict "publications or other works created by inmates through the Corrections and Conditional Release Act" on the following grounds: risk to a person's safety; risk to the security of an institution; interference with an individual correctional plan; display of offensive or discriminatory materials, and criminal publications such as hate literature or obscene works.
Olson, 68, confessed in 1982 to killing 11 B.C. children as young as nine years old.
The site also lists for sale an item from Port Coquitlam pig farmer Robert William Pickton, who was convicted in December of killing six women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
The seller, listed as Redrum's Autographs, calls the four-page letter written by Pickton while he was incarcerated at North Fraser Pretrial Centre on March 12, 2007 "very interesting." The seller said the original envelope bears an official stamp from the pretrial centre and is signed by Pickton.
The asking price is $75, and as of Monday there were no bids.
Day made no comments about the Pickton auction.
In May, a similar investigation was sparked from reports over a personal page dedicated to the killer on MySpace.com, a popular social networking site.
Investigators said the page contained recent photographs of Olson, taken inside the Montreal-area prison where he is serving a life sentence. Inmates have access to computers, but not to Internet, said officials.
It was unclear whether Olson himself set up the MySpace page.
Day's office said Monday a request was made to remove the page and that MySpace.com has since removed it.
An investigation is ongoing to find out how pictures of the offender appeared on the website, said Melisa Leclerc, a spokeswoman for Day.
-- with files from The Province
© The Vancouver Province 2008
Saturday, July 26
The Moose Jaw Times Herald
“There have been way too many women dying,” said Vancouver’s Bernie Williams, during a Walk-4-Justice presentation at Moose Jaw’s Prairie Oasis on Monday.
“This is unacceptable.”
The Walk-4-Justice co-organizer said there must be changes to the country’s judicial system to prevent people who would harm women from falling through the correctional system’s cracks.
Vancouver’s Gladys Radek, the other organizer, said Walk-4-Justice, which started in Vancouver June 21 and ends in Ottawa Sept. 12, raises awareness of the thousands of missing women and unsolved murders of women from across Canada.
There are approximately 14 —mostly Aboriginal — people, walking through Saskatchewan this week. Once in the nation’s capital, Radek said the group will hold a rally at Parliament Hill on Sept. 15.
Radek’s 22-year-old niece, Tamara Lynn Chipman, went missing in 2005. Radek, who is a long-time human rights advocate, said her niece left behind a two-year-old son.
Radek said the walk is also to acknowledge 69 women who’ve gone missing from downtown Vancouver.
For more, pick up Tuesday's Times-Herald.
Don Knight from Victoria BC, BC writes: I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Moose Jaw times for publishing this story. In the post apology era this walk gives the citizens and governments of Canada a chance to put into action the remedy these women seek for their loved ones; A call for a public inquiry into the missing and murdered (primarily First Nations) women and children. It is with pride that I volunteer with this organization and I thank my friends in my old home town of Moose Jaw for making the walkers feel welcomed and cared for. Also a big thank you to the Prairie Oasis Hotel for their community spirit. Sincerely Don Knight RPN (BC)
The Moose Jaw Times-Herald
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44 Fairford St. W - Moose Jaw - Saskatchewan - S6H 1V1
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008
CREDIT: Roy Antal, Leader-Post
A group called Walk4Justice walks into the city from the west side of Regina's weigh scales. The group is walking across Canada to raise awareness for missing and murdered aboriginal women.
A group of walkers is determined to bring justice to the more than 3,000 missing and murdered women and children in Canada.
"We have to stop the violence against women. We know violence sees no colour so we're not speaking just for the First Nations people. We're speaking for all women. We're the life givers of society and someone has to care," said Gladys Radek, founder of the Walk4Justice.
Carole Fletcher, 59, from Ottawa, understood the purpose for the walk so she flew out and joined the walkers in B.C.
"I read about it and said, 'This is a cause I can support,' " said Fletcher who's non-aboriginal. "I just I had to (join them)."
It was the first time she has participated in such a cause and when she told her friends and family they were surprised, but supportive, she said.
"Their cause is our cause. It's humanity's cause. It's mankind's cause, not just women but men as well," said Fletcher.
When she joined, Fletcher didn't know the other walkers but said everyone welcomed her with open arms. She said the walk through two provinces has not only strengthened her resolve but her belief in mankind.
"I think people are really supporting us. They sympathize, they can understand the cause. No one wants to lose a brother, a sister, an auntie, a mother. So I really feel like we're gaining support and people have been really kind to us," said Fletcher.
She's looking forward to the rest of the walk and the rally in Ottawa because she believes in the purpose behind the walk.
Radek's reason for organizing the walk was because she lost her niece Tamara Lynn Chipman, 35 months ago on the Highway of Tears in northern B.C. The Highway of Tears is the Yellowhead Highway 16 West, which runs between Prince George and Prince Rupert. She said her niece vanished without a trace.
It was on the second anniversary of her disappearance Radek knew the rest of Canada needed to know what was going on.
"I started researching the Highway of Tears missing women and there's way more than what the police are saying. Their list is up to 18 and I have at least 44 who are missing just from the Highway of Tears," said Radek.
She said the walk is being done solely on a volunteer basis and through the kindness of others.
"We're going to be having a rally in Ottawa on Sept. 15 to address the prime minister and minister Chuck Strahl and to demand a public inquiry into the deaths of far too many women," said Radek. "We want to send a clear message that this violence against women has to stop."
Myrna LaPlante got involved in the walk because she supports all efforts to raise awareness about missing women. LaPlante's role was to make sure that the walkers were well cared for during this leg of the walk.
She understands first-hand what it means to have a loved one go missing. Her aunt Emily Osmond LaPlante, 78, went missing on Sept. 20, 2007 from her residence a quarter-kilometre from the Kawacatoose First Nation.
"All my free time has been basically dedicated to searching for her and search activities and getting more information and getting the word out," said LaPlante. "I'm very supportive of the things that people experience when they lose a family member because I know."
She said the walkers still have a distance to travel and would appreciate any kind of support, whether it's money for gas to run the two vehicles, water, food, or walking supplies.
If people are interested in making a donation they can call LaPlante at (306) 281-9621 or Radek at email@example.com.
There will be a potluck supper at 6 p.m. at the Regina Senior's Centre today. The walkers will be leaving Regina Thursday.
Native Women's Association of Canada
Tuesday, July 22
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
The recent discoveries of skeletal remains belonging to two missing Saskatchewan women has put an exclamation point on the 2008 Walk for Missing Sisters.
Three aboriginal women -- Daleen Bosse Muskego, Amber Redman and Melanie Dawn Geddes -- disappeared within 15 months of each other between May 2004 and August 2005. That prompted Muskego's parents to launch a 350-kilometre walk from their home reserve of Onion Lake to Saskatoon.
The intent was to raise public awareness about those women and the estimated 500 other missing or murdered aboriginal women in Canada.
As the fourth annual walk began Monday, there was no longer any mystery around the whereabouts of Redman, 19, and Geddes, 24. But Bosse Muskego, who was last seen on May 18, 2004, has never been found.
Her parents, Herb and Pauline Muskego, have chased tips over the years, criss-crossing the country, to no avail.
"But you have to go because of the what-if, you know?" said Herb, who was in a Lloydminster campground Monday afternoon, resting from the first leg of the Walk for Missing Sisters.
About 40 people took part, but the number is expected to increase substantially as the trek heads out of Lloydminster and passes through Maidstone, Battleford, Radisson, Borden and into Saskatoon.
The plan is to cover about 70 kilometres a day. The group plans to arrive at Saskatoon City Hall for a 1 p.m. event on Thursday. The members of the group will then walk to the University of Saskatchewan for another event at the University Bowl beginning at 2:30 p.m.
"Our morale has been boosted because of the numerous phone calls of support we've received from the families of those other women (Redman and Geddes)," said Herb. "They know what we're going through and it has given us strength to keep looking for Daleen."
The family will keep looking, but they will stop walking. This year's version of the awareness walk will be the last, Herb said.
"According to our cultural protocols, we do things in four," he said. "If we've raised awareness about this issue, which I think we have, then we've accomplished our goal."
Part of it, anyway.
The walk will be done this year, but the mission will remain.
"We will always be optimistic about bringing Daleen home again. We'll always stay that way," Herb said, noting he and Pauline have put up posters across the country and into the United States.
"She's somewhere. We'll never stop looking."
Muskego had just finished her third year of studies in the education program at the University of Saskatchewan when she went missing. She is married and has a seven-year-old daughter.
According to Herb and Pauline, the little girl routinely requests to watch home movies featuring the mother she hasn't seen since she was three.
When she went missing, Muskego had just attended an Assembly of First Nations function and went to Jax nightclub in downtown Saskatoon. About three weeks later, her white 2002 Chevrolet Cavalier was found in Sutherland with its floor mats, seat covers, steering wheel cover, trunk interior and baby car seat missing.
Geddes disappeared on Aug. 13, 2005, in Regina. Her remains were discovered on Dec. 20, 2005 -- but not confirmed by RCMP until Feb. 1, 2006 -- along the banks of the Qu'Appelle River.
Redman disappeared from Fort Qu'Appelle on July 15, 2005. Her remains were found on May 5, 2008, in a clump of trees on the Little Black Bear First Nation. Two residents from the reserve, Albert Patrick Bellegarde, 29, and his cousin, Gilbert Allan Bellegarde, 31, have each been charged with first-degree murder in the case.
© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2008
Sunday, July 20
Monday, July 14
NEWS PHOTO EMMA BENNETT
Members of the Walk for Justice make their way along the Trans-Canada Highway into Medicine Hat on Saturday afternoon. More than 60 aboriginal people left Vancouver on June 21 to take a message by relay to Ottawa.
Walk honours thousands of missing women
Cars and trucks honk their support as Gladys Radek waves back while she makes her way into Redcliff along the sun-beaten shoulder of the Trans-Canada Saturday as part of the Walk For Justice from Vancouver to Ottawa.
Cars and trucks honk their support as Gladys Radek waves back while she makes her way into Redcliff along the sun-beaten shoulder of the Trans-Canada Saturday as part of the Walk For Justice from Vancouver to Ottawa.
The purpose of the 60 women walking relay across the country is to raise awareness of the thousands of missing First Nations women, some of whom have fallen prey to men like Robert Pickton or have disappeared along the “Highway of Tears” between Edmonton and Prince George.
“Doing this really makes me realize what a caring society we do have,” said Radek who organized the march.
“And that a lot of people don’t realize what is going on in Canada — which is sad to say.”
Radek said it’s time that attitudes change in regards to violence against women, and the way the court system handles men who perpetrate these crimes and prosecute those responsible for the murders they commit.
The tragic murder and dismembering of Rachel Quinney was one such violent act that needed to see justice done, she said.
Thomas Svekla was charged with that crime. He was acquitted earlier this year but convicted on another murder.
“I think about the family members that we have met throughout this journey where they have been victims of so many injustices after so many years of pain looking for their loved ones,” she said.
“We have a high percentage of women who are driven into the streets because they have nowhere else to go.”
Radek said that this country has two sets of laws, the Indian Act and the federal justice system.
“That plays a large part in it and it is time that Canada realizes that First Nations are humans too and we deserve to be treated with respect and honour.”
See Marchers, Page A2
Ross Cross Child, representing the Blood Tribe during the Walk For Justice’s stay in Medicine Hat, says he feels emotional about what the march represents.
“I’ve been looking forward to this day because it was so long in coming. We have lost so many relatives and nobody seems to care and we don’t know where their gravesites are. Nobody is doing anything about it — it’s like they are sweeping it under the carpet,” he said.
“Who is going to do this for us except the First Nations people? They need to come forward and say enough is enough.”
The marchers will arrive in Ottawa on Sept. 15 to address the issue of missing women with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl.
Medicine Hat News
Friday, July 11
SooNews Wire for SooNews.ca
Friday, July 11, 2008, 7:58AM
Womyn 4 Social Justice and the Algoma Council on Domestic Violence are working together to support the Vancouver based group Walk4Justice.
This group left Vancouver on Aboriginal Day (June 21st) and is currently walking to Ottawa to bring awareness to all the missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada over the past four decades.
The group plans to hold a rally Sept. 15th on Parliament Hill to demand a full public inquiry into the "scandal" of missing Canadian women, which they estimate to be about 3,000. This Walk is supported by Amnesty International, B.C. Federation of Labour, BCGEU, ILWU Local 500, United Native Nations, Native Women’s Association of Canada and countless other organizations across Canada.
Walk4Justice will be trekking through Sault Ste. Marie sometime in the third week of August. They are asking for individuals and communities to come forward with the names and information about the missing and murdered women so that their information and picture can be added to the banner and their families can be represented in Ottawa. If you know of any missing men, women or children in our community, please let us know so that we can ensure their names and stories are added to a banner to take to Ottawa by Walk4Justice. If family members of missing women would like to have their stories and voices heard, please contact Bonnie Baranski at Mystic Messages or Lisa Kisch, at Algoma Family Services.
If anyone would like to join the organizing committee working on the welcome for Walk4Justice when they come through the Sault, please contact the above individuals and/or come to our weekly meeting on Tuesdays from 12:00 AM to 1:00 PM at Mystic Messages, 719 Queen East. A fundraiser for Walk4Justice will also be held on August 8, 2008 at Arcadia Coffeehouse.
Copyright © 2008 GoNorOnt Media Ltd. All rights reserved.
Thursday, July 10
By ANDREW HANON, SUN MEDIA
Tears streamed down Elana Papin’s face as she heard the news that she and her three teenaged daughters will be able to rejoin the Walk 4 Justice.
“We did it,” was all she could say as she struggled to regain her composure after getting news that an anonymous donor would help them out.
The walk is to draw attention to hundreds of women – the vast majority of whom are aboriginal – who’ve disappeared or been killed across Canada.
Papin’s sister Georgina was one of B.C. serial killer Robert Pickton’s victims, and Elana felt it was imperative that Georgina be represented on the cross-country journey, which will wind up in Ottawa in September.
But things went haywire last week just west of Edmonton when one of the support vehicles for the two-dozen walkers was involved in a collision, sending two participants to hospital. The walk resumed, but with fewer participants.
Meanwhile, Papin and her three daughters – Erica, 15, River, 14, and Summer, 13 – wanted to join in, but didn’t have the cash to cover their food and accommodation expenses for the two-month trek.
But Thursday the donor, who asked to remain anonymous, said those expenses would be covered.
“It’s like Georgina just jumped in me and took off,” said an elated Papin.
Efforts like the Walk 4 Justice are extremely important, said Jessica Daniels, executive director of the Edmonton-based Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women.
“We support any efforts of people trying to take power back,” she said. “The whole reason that these murders were allowed to continue for so long was because of how vulnerable our women are.”
Copyright © 2008, Canoe Inc. All rights reserved.
Monday, July 7
Posted By BY SUSAN GAMBLE, EXPOSITOR STAFF
July 7, 2008
Tears flowed freely during a memorial ceremony Saturday to remember Tashina General, who was found slain after she went missing from Six Nations in January.
Family, friends and supporters came together from four directions in a symbolic gathering in Veteran's Park in Ohsweken to honour General and remember many other victims of violence.
What the Expositor says. See Opinion, Page A8.
"Be aware of what's going on in your own community," Nancy Porter, one of General's good friends, said as the crowd dispersed.
"We're not supposed to go through life fearing things but we do have to be aware."
Porter says the community needs to be aware of the potential for violence against its young women.
"It's cruel, but if this is what it took to wake up the community . . . well, something good's got to come of it."
Four months pregnant, the 21-year-old General was slain and buried in a shallow grave near a busy Six Nations intersection while police and the community spent months looking for her and appealing for her to contact her family.
Two hundred of those at Saturday's ceremony wore General's smiling face on T-shirts designed for the occasion. The shirts were a way of saying thank you to the community that searched for the woman.
In the photo, she is dressed for a Miss Six Nations pageant and the words "Beauty comes from within" is on the shirt, along with "Keep smiling" -- one of General's favourite sayings.
Speakers praised the young woman's work ethic and sunny nature, comforted her family and warned the community about protecting each other and paying attention to local happenings.
Later, as the crowd met at the community hall to share food and presentations, emotion pour out as people greeted and held each other.
"Why is everybody crying?" asked a small girl.
"They're remembering Tashina," explained the girl's mother, General's cousin, Bev Jacobs.
For Jacobs, General's death hits far too close to home.
Jacobs is president of the Native Women's Association of Canada where, for the past six years through the Sisters in Spirit program, she's worked with the families of missing and murdered native women.
When General had been missing for two months, Jacobs helped host a media conference to raise awareness about her disappearance.
But when General's body was discovered, it was like Jacobs's work and family collided.
"This has been very difficult emotionally and it's been hard for me to get back into my work. I couldn't even go to a recent national gathering because this has affected me so personally."
Jacobs's message is that native men need to take back their roles of respon- sibility and once again become the protectors of the community.
Meanwhile, native women need to learn again to respect and honour themselves and each other.
"That's our tradition and culture but people need to know how much violence there is in the community and that it's time to speak up and stop it."
The Six Nations man charged in the second-degree murder of General remains in jail.
Kent Owen Hill, 20, a former boyfriend and well-known lacrosse player, has been remanded in court several times.
General was a person of peace and forgiveness, said Porter.
While the community has been rocked by the crime and there's anger, those who loved General try to remember how she would want them to react.
"Tashina would say, 'Do you want to go around being bitter?'" said Porter. "She didn't know how to hate and she couldn't hold a grudge."
At the park, people lined up to greet, hug and comfort General's grandmother, Norma General.
Before her death, General was helping her grandmother raise some of her grandchildren.
"She worked really hard at the pizza shop and had a job with the tourism department," Norma General said. "She learned sign language to help me with one of my grandchildren and often travelled with me when I would go to make presentations in other communities."
Norma General reported her granddaughter missing on Jan. 23 but, when police had reports of the young woman being spotted around the reserve, a full search was never mounted.
Finally, her grandmother insisted something was wrong and police began searching for General toward the end of March.
After several air and ground searches, General's body was found buried on property owned by Kent Owen Hill's father. She had died by strangulation.
General's family helped plan a quiet memorial corner in Veteran's Park where a bench, new trees and ornamental bushes were planted to help remember General.
Pink roses were placed at the base of each of the trees.
Article ID# 1102698
NATIVE WOMEN'S ASSOCIATION OF CANADA
It's time to take notice
July 7, 2008
If there is any good to come from the death of a young woman, it can only be knowledge that will help prevent future tragedies.
Sadly, Canadians and First Nations people cannot deny awareness of the crisis involving missing and murdered aboriginal women, only a shameful lack of interest and action.
Hundreds turned out this weekend to remember Tashina General, 21, whose body was discovered in April in a shallow grave on Six Nations, three months after the pregnant woman went missing. Her former boyfriend, Kent Owen Hill, has been charged with second-degree murder.
The memorial walk was part of the Sisters in Spirit initiative by the Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC), which seeks to address "the impact of racialized, sexualized violence against Aboriginal women often leading to their disappearance and death."
For three agonizing months, General was one of those missing women, though she did not fit the stereotype of the high-risk lifestyle connected with many of the disappearances, especially in Western Canada.
It did, however, hit home with NWAC president Beverley Jacobs, a cousin of General's who spoke to those gathered this weekend.
However, few can deny general awareness of the reality that native women in Canada face a higher risk of violence than the average Canadian woman.
According to the 2004 General Social Survey, which documents self-reported information, aboriginal people were three times more likely to experience violence like assault, sexual assault and robbery.
Violence against aboriginals was more likely to be committed by an acquaintance (56 per cent of the time), than violence against non-aboriginals (41 per cent), according to the same survey.
Over the five years prior to the survey, 21 per cent of aboriginals reported physical or sexual violence by a spouse, compared to six per cent of non-aboriginals. The survey also noted a homicide rate from 1997 to 2000 that was seven times higher for aboriginals.
If people can continue to ignore statistics as stark and obvious as these, maybe they will have a harder time dealing with the shame and sorrow of an individual tragedy like the death of Tashina General.
NATIVE WOMEN'S ASSOCIATION OF CANADA
Saturday, July 5
July 5, 2008
Friends and family will be walking in memory of Tashina General today to raise awareness of violence against aboriginal women.
The 21-year-old Six Nations woman was found dead in April, after she had been missing for two months. General, who was pregnant at the time of her disappearance, had been strangled.
A former boyfriend, Kent Owen Hill, has been charged with second degree murder. Beverley Jacobs, president
of the Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC), will be participating in the walk, which begins at 10 a. m. Groups will be walking from the north, south, east and west and converging at Veteran's Park in Ohsweken for a tree planting ceremony.
A potluck lunch will follow at the community hall. Speakers will include Elva Jamieson, Louise McDonald and Jake Swamp. Jacobs will also be making a presentation on NWAC's Sisters in Spirit initiative.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
Four years ago tomorrow, there began one of the most wrenching stories in Regina's history: the hunt for any trace of a five-year-old girl named Tamra Keepness, who was reported missing from her Core-area home on July 6, 2004.
Despite a massive police investigation and civilian searches of areas in and around Regina, plus international media coverage and a $25,000 reward, no trace of her has been found -- so far. The Regina Police Service has calculated that 1,500 tips were received and 1,000 separate tasks were assigned to investigators. Police services as far away as Quebec were asked to check tips, said former Regina police chief Cal Johnston, who at one point remarked, "It could be just one tip that could make the difference."
Tamra's story gripped Regina, indeed all of Saskatchewan, with a rare poignance and intensity.
Quite properly, the story of her disappearance has remained in the public consciousness. The Regina Police Service recently announced it is forming a seven-investigator unit to review the case and to start putting information relating to the investigation into a new computer database that, it is thought, might possibly yield some new insights. Various groups regularly hold public events to remind citizens that Tamra -- along with many other people -- are still missing in this province, and that anybody with information should take it to the police.
Why did Tamra's disappearance so transfix Regina? It's very simple; people of all backgrounds recognize the vulnerability of children and worry about them. In the case of Tamra and her siblings, people also abhorred the conditions in which they had been living.
When a child disappears -- especially for such a long period -- many people fear the worst. One of the few heartening aspects of this sad drama has been the diligence of police in continuing their
investigation and the way in which civilian volunteers have joined the search and the important process of keeping this case imprinted in the public's collective memory.
In addition to Tamra, we should all worry about every single person -- regardless of their background or age -- who is missing from their family and friends. We note with sadness the recent discovery of the remains of Fort Qu'Appelle's Amber Redman, missing for almost three years. Two men have been charged in connection with her death. Powerfully and poignantly, her mother said: "In order for justice to be served, those with information must share it with the police. There has been too much silence from those with knowledge . . ."
Each absence leaves a big hole in somebody's heart. Each missing person deserves the dignity of being remembered and sought; each worried family needs to know their loved one is not forgotten.
As year five of the search for Tamra begins, it is useless for outsiders to speculate on what might have happened to her; far better for people who have information on any missing person to report it to police.
"Too much silence" must end.
© The Leader-Post (Regina) 2008
Thursday, July 3
dated April 30, 2008
Petition No 392-0617
By/ID Ms. Crowder
Public Safety Canada (PS)
The Government of Canada is concerned with addressing the issue of missing persons. A
federal/provincial territorial working group has been mandated to establish best practices in dealing with the
disappearance, homicide, and serial murder of at-risk women. The working group is also considering issues
associated with the effective identification, investigation and prosecution of these cases. The Government looks
forward to receiving the Working Group report so it can address and help combat the problem of missing persons in Canada.
Deputy Ministers Responsible for Justice from across Canada recently considered the "Final Report of the Provincial Partnership Committee on Missing Persons" at their June 2008 meeting, which included a recommendation for the creation of a voluntary national information base or linked information bases on potential missing persons. Deputy Ministers Responsible for Justice have tasked their officials to determine appropriate follow up to this report and the issue of missing persons was requested to be added to the agenda of the Ministers Responsible for Justice meeting in September.
In addition, the National Crime prevention Centre (NCPC) supports crime prevention initiatives that reduce known risk factors in high-crime areas and among vulnerable populations. Recognizing the need for effective interventions, the NCPC has committed to supporting initiatives that address key risk factors among families, children and youth.
The RCMP also works with other Canadian police forces to resolve crimes against missing or murdered women. For example, the RCMP is involved in Project Even-handed with the Vancouver Police Department and project KARE with the Edmonton Police Service. In addition to actively investigating all cases of missing women, these projects are developing "best practices" that can be implemented by similiar initiatives across the country.
The Government of Canada will continue to work closely with provincial and territorial partners on these issues to ensure a national, coordinated appproach that will provide an appropriate response to this complex problem.
* If you would like to leave a comment regarding the above, you can email me at
firstname.lastname@example.org and/or to Jean Crowder, Member of Parliament for Nanaimo-Cowichan at email@example.com
** For Your Information, Jean Crowder and her assistant Allistair MacGregor are going to write a reply to the above government's reponse regarding the petition, c/o Hon. Stockwell Day, Justice Dept. Govenment of Canada.
Wednesday, July 2
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
EDMONTON - The stretch of Highway 16 leading into Edmonton proved to be an emotional road today for the 20 or so walkers accompanying a small convoy of slow-moving vehicles overlaid with pictures of dozens of young women.
Like the 70 or so women in Alberta whose files are now with investigators of Project Kare, the ones depicted on the vehicles have been murdered or have disappeared, many of them along a lonely stretch of road in British Columbia which has become known as the Highway of Tears.
"It was particularly emotional for us; we know there have been women in the Edmonton area who have fallen prey to whoever's out there," said Bernie Williams.
"We understand the pain of their friends and families."
Williams and Gladys Radek, whose niece Tamara Lynn Chipman has been missing for almost three years, co-founded the Walk4Justice, a group which set out from Vancouver on a cross-country march to Ottawa on June 21, National Aboriginal Day.
The group plans to hold a rally Sept. 15 on Parliament Hill to demand a full public inquiry into the "scandal" of missing Canadian women, which they estimate to be about 3,000.
"I look at this as Canada's dirty little secret," said Williams of the missing women, many of whom are aboriginal.
The Walk4Justice group will be in Edmonton Thursday night at the Canadian Native Friendship Centre for what organizers are calling "an evening of sharing, solidarity and music."
Williams said their journey so far has been "phenomenal," support for their cause coming from residents of the towns through which they've passed, and motorists drawn to the convoy by the faces depicted on the vehicles.
"When we went through Barriere a woman came up to us and started to cry; she recognized one of the faces on our vehicles as a childhood friend she knew in school," said Williams.
"It was really heart-wrenching."
© Edmonton Journal 2008
Tuesday, July 1
Mom: 'She can have sex with a 60-year-old man at 14'
By TAMARA CHERRY, SUN MEDIA
July 1, 2008
"We need some dead kids."
-- Det. Wendy Leaver, on what it will take to fix the system
Kay wanted to burn the tiny shorts and sky-high stilettos her 16-year-old daughter unpacked after returning home last Christmas.
Soon after her arrival, Charlie was snorting cocaine in her bedroom and coming home late for her court-imposed curfew. So much for the law.
The morning of Jan. 6, after coming home late, she argued with her mom and left.
Kay got a call from Charlie's friend at an escort agency in a Kitchener house, saying Charlie was there the night before.
"I sat outside and I watched and I watched because that house was the only link I had to my daughter," Kay recalls.
The next month she got a text message from Charlie.
"I'm so sorry. I'm too far gone now. You need to forget about me. Get on with your life," it said. "It's a bad world out there, you don't want to be part of this, mom."
Kay doesn't understand why a habitual runaway who has long showcased the signs of destruction couldn't have been saved before this.
"Maybe I was naive," she says. "I didn't know that these laws weren't here to protect me. I didn't know my daughter could go live wherever she wants when she's 12, that she can have sex with a 60-year-old man at 14 if she wants to. Why is that allowed?"
March 6, Charlie met Kay for coffee.
She sat down and said, "It's all your f----in' fault." She was upset her mom had remarried. She wanted it to be just the two of them.
The teen stormed out; Kay called police.
Within minutes, Charlie was found with five ecstasy pills, seven blocks of crack cocaine and a boyfriend with a record a mile long.
Charlie was held in custody until April 21, during which she called her mother to confess she had a daughter of her own when she was 15 and that the father was taking care of her. She said she had the baby Dec. 18, 2006 -- exactly a year before she was found working at a Toronto strip joint.
To this day, Kay doesn't know if the story is true, false or something in between.
Charlie was released from custody with probation orders but no address to report to.
"Where do you think she's going to go? Right back to the johns," Kay says. "She's dead before she walks out of the courtroom door."
That week, a 60-year-old man paid her $200 for a blow job.
The last time Kay saw her daughter was May 2. She told Charlie she didn't want her at home if she was going to snort cocaine a room away from her 4-year-old son. But she couldn't leave her baby on the street.
"My hands are tied," she told her daughter. "I can't force you into treatment. I can't force you to get medical help. I can't force you to do anything."
"I'm tired of watching you kill yourself," she said. "You've got to choose."
Charlie asked for a ride to the bus stop. She got out, turned around, said, "Thanks for f---in' nothing," slammed the door and left.
So it's back to the hunt. Back to posting pictures around the city. And back to calling the phone numbers written on the four back-to-back pages of paper before her -- numbers Kay's husband got from Charlie's cell phone when she was in custody once.
It's back to heart-breaking notes left by her daughter on Facebook. Like this one:
"Happy Mothers (sic) Day to all the mothers out there who are having a rough life ... time will heal all ... I love you and happy mothers (sic) day."
Kay's husband recently found Charlie on MySpace, where she goes by another name, says she is 19 and born in Kingston, but lives in Toronto. False, false, false, maybe true. Pictures are posted of her in underwear or skimpy lingerie.
"I don't care how old she is; she's my kid," Kay says. "I'll be damned if I'm burying my kid."
She laments the fact that closure may not come in anything but a body bag.
"I don't have an end. And when I close my eyes and see what's happening to her, it's horrible."
- - -
Officers in the Special Victims Section of the Toronto Police Sex Crimes Unit can't help but point out that many of Robert Pickton's butchered hookers likely started on the streets as young teens.
And yet the question remains: How do you control a teen who can't be called a criminal, even though she may be killing herself?
The Child and Family Services Act only goes so far, leaving much of the decision-making power to the child. So even if parents do care enough to fight for their children, they must fight with their children -- because there are few others with power to help.
"People look at us and gasp, 'What do you mean you can't do anything?' " Det. Wendy Leaver says. "If you can catch that kid at 13 and 14, maybe they won't have a life on the street at 16, 17 and 18 and be crack-addicted. But there's nothing; there's just a big, big gap."
They can't be thrown into jail; the system won't allow it. They can't be forced into a mental hospital unless they're threatening suicide or harm against others. And they can't be locked up for counselling if they don't want to be.
The cracks remain because, these cops say, this is the sex industry. Maybe no one realizes the problem is there; maybe no one cares.
"A missing child who is taken from their home or just disappears off the street is a major interest," Leaver says. "A missing child who is working as a sex worker or working the street doesn't seem to have that reaction."
Unable to fathom legislation that could save a teen before she's too far gone, these cops say the solution must come as a collaborative effort: Cops, judges, children's aid societies and parents working together, not separately, to save one child.
What will it take to make this happen?
"We need some dead kids. That's what we need. That's what works in this country," Leaver says.
"A judge's dead kid," Det.-Const. Leanne Marchen adds.
Until that happens -- and it very well could happen soon -- Det.-Const. Eduardo Dizon has this advice for parents like Kay:
"Maintain the lines of communication, as frustrating, disappointing, disturbing as it all is," he says.
"Just be there in every way, shape or form, because hopefully one day she will call and say, 'I want help.' "