Fifteen groups, including aboriginal organizations, plan to boycott the policy forums next month of the “flawed’ Missing Women Inquiry.
“The commission has lost all credibility among aboriginal, sex work, human rights and women’s organizations that work with and are comprised of the very women most affected by the issues this inquiry is charged with investigating,” the groups stated Tuesday in a letter to Inquiry Commissioner Wally Oppal.
As the Missing Women’s Inquiry continues, sex workers and supporters lit candles on the steps of a police detachment yesterday, part of a global day of action.
By David P. Ball
Sex workers and their allies rallied outside the Downtown Eastside (DTES) police station Saturday, calling on Vancouver police to treat women in the neighbourhood with respect, and to put a stop to violence against people in the sex industry.
It’s been 22 years since the Montreal massacre. We talk violence against women, and ways to end it, with survival sex work organizer Jennifer Allan, founder of Jen’s Kitchen. She experienced violence in the survival sex industry first-hand, but today, she supports those in the trade and pushes for change. By David P. Ball.
[Jennifer Allan, founder of Jen’s Kitchen, experienced violence in the survival sex industry first-hand – and today she advocates for those in the trade. Photo: David P. Ball]
Jennifer Allan knows first-hand what it’s like to sell one’s body in order to feed it.
About ten years ago, the 34-year old founder of Jen’s Kitchen – an advocacy, outreach and food relief service for women in Vancouver’s survival sex trade – found herself pacing the streets of Calgary and Vancouver, the pain of hunger in her belly.
VANCOUVER — Vancouver police officers and staff referred to the missing and murdered women as “hookers” or “whores,” made sexist remarks about female bosses and even disparaged grieving families, but the Vancouver Police Department does not suffer from “systemic bias,” an inquiry heard Tuesday.
Vancouver police Deputy Chief Doug LePard, author of a 400-page report critical of the Vancouver police and RCMP handling of the murdered women files, stuck to his guns after eight days of testimony at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.
RCMP Cpl. Catherine Galliford, the former calm, professional voice and face of the Missing Women Task Force, said Tuesday she knows her evidence will be “explosive” when she appears at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.
Galliford, 44, is slated to testify at the inquiry in January, but says she won’t be testifying for the RCMP, but rather on behalf of the victims.
In an interview, and in a 115-page statement given to the RCMP, Galliford said top Mounties had “enough evidence for a search warrant” of serial killer Robert Pickton’s farm in 1999. From 1999 to 2002 14 women were brutally murdered by Pickton, a fact that haunts Galliford.
For the past decade, I have had the great fortune of working closely with sex workers in the DTES and across the country who are fighting for safety, equality, legal rights and social protections for women and men in the sex industry. When I first began campaigning on this issue, I thought that, as a lawyer, I could make a particular contribution to this movement by bringing test cases that would advance rights and protections for sex workers. I thought that by providing pro bono legal representation, a major access to justice hurdle was overcome. However, what I did not know was that one of the biggest struggles would be for sex workers to simply get their day in court, and that there are many other systemic barriers for sex workers who want to engage the legal system to assert their rights. A long struggle for access to justice for sex workers continues and, in January 2012, Pivot will continue this fight at Canada’s highest court.
Squamish Nation elder Eugene Harry, right, blesses the Missing Women Inquiry headed
by Wally Oppal as it got underway Tuesday in Federal Court in Vancouver.
VANCOUVER — Vulnerable witnesses, including some who may have witnessed events at the B.C. farm of serial killer Robert Pickton, will be able to give evidence in sworn documents instead of testifying at a Vancouver inquiry.
The names of the potential witnesses — some of whom the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry has been told fear reprisals by pimps, drug dealers, other sex workers and even police officers — will be banned from publication.
Commissioner Wally Oppal, a former judge, made that ruling on Thursday morning, following Wednesday’s application by lawyer Jason Gratl for special arrangements at the inquiry to protect sex workers by banning their names and allowing them to testify by affidavit.
By Suzanne Fournier, The Province November 1, 2011
A sex worker testified at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry on Monday that she tried three times to get Vancouver police to investigate her complaint of violent rape by the man she now believes was serial killer Robert Pickton.
Susan Davis, 43, said the fact that the VPD failed to follow up on her report of a sexual assault at knifepoint was a “major life-altering event” that forever undermined her trust in police.