This article in Vancouver’s Province about the Robert Pickton trial (did I say, trial? What trial? We’ve been waiting over two years.) pretty much sums up the current shoddy, patch-work state of victims assistance in Canada:
Victims’ families in the dark
Number of women on indictment not known
Monday, December 20, 2004
The families of scores of missing women still don’t know if their loved ones’ names will appear on the indictment against accused serial killer Robert Pickton, who is expected to appear by videolink in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster today.
They don’t know what evidence police have in many of the cases, when the trial will be held or how they will afford, with little government support, to attend.
And some are upset that Pickton’s trial is slated for a New Westminster courtroom that won’t hold even a small portion of relatives.
“Some of the relatives, including myself, will choose to speak out loud and long if we are relegated to an observation room instead of a trial, and if the victims’ relatives do not receive the emotional and financial support they have been denied so far — and which they will need to attend a gruelling trial,” said Sto:lo leader Ernie Crey, whose sister Dawn disappeared in 2000. The finding of her remains at the Pickton pig farm in Port Coquitlam was confirmed by DNA last January.
A trial date could be set today at Pickton’s interim appearance.
“Could there be discussion of a trial date? Yes, that’s obviously one issue of interest that will need to be addressed at some point,” said prosecutor Geoffrey Gaul. “That issue might be addressed [today].”
Pickton, 55, was committed on July 23, 2003, to stand trial on 15 first-degree murder charges.
Prosecutor Michael Petrie confirmed on Dec. 15, 2003, that Pickton would also face charges in the alleged murder of seven more women whose names were included after the start of his six-month preliminary hearing in January 2003.
And last January, police confirmed they had linked the DNA of nine more women to the Pickton farm.
Cpl. Catherine Galliford of the missing-women task force said police are still processing 100,000 samples of evidence gathered during the 21-month search of the farm that ended in November 2003.
Lynn Frey, whose daughter Marnie disappeared in 1997 and whose DNA was found at the farm, says she is “astonished and disappointed” at the few resources offered to victims’ families in what has become Canada’s largest and most expensive criminal investigation.
“We are still Marnie’s voice in this and I will fight till my dying day if need be, as we want justice and accountability for what has gone on with the police and victims’ services as well as social services,” said Frey.
“I am sure they were aware of many women just not showing up for their cheques.”
Marilyn Kraft of Calgary, whose stepdaughter Cindy Feliks is expected to be among the murder charges, has called victims’ services “woefully inadequate” and less than those offered to a high school where one student dies tragically.
Lynn and Rick Frey paid their own way to attend the preliminary hearing.
Kraft and Lynn Frey found that when they were emotionally overcome while attending court, no one stepped forward to help.
Some families are pleased with services offered them by two former Vancouver police native liaison workers, who are not trained counsellors.
Others say the solicitor-general must kick in more resources, instead of capping the financial assistance at $3,000 per person for all proceedings related to Pickton, including the six-month preliminary, meetings with police and a trial that could last years.
There are 69 names on the police list of women missing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
P.S…. I’ve met Ernie Crey, when he says he’s going to speak long and loud, people better get ready for an assault; they guy has cohones.