Ashley Smith and Ernie Crey testifying Wednesday before the Missing Women Inquiry.

‘We are all responsible’ for missing women, inquiry told

Missing Women Inquiry focusing on police delays in catching serial killer Robert Pickton must also tackle broader failure of society: Crey

The Missing Women Inquiry focusing on police delays in catching serial killer Robert Pickton must also tackle the broader failure of society, the brother of one of the victims said Wednesday.

Ernie Crey, a prominent First Nations spokesman from Chilliwack, testified his sister Dawn Crey was like so many other victims – torn from her troubled birth family and sent to foster care and then later virtually penned up in the Downtown Eastside by the web of services there geared to addicts, the poor and the mentally ill.

“We’ve concentrated all these women in the Downtown Eastside as if it were an Indian reserve or something,” Crey told the inquiry. “And we keep them down there and they become easy prey. They become vulnerable to somebody like Willie Pickton.”

Crey said he’s been approached by affluent residents of Vancouver’s tonier neighbourhoods who console him for the loss of his sister but would never support a treatment centre or housing for the homeless near them.

“When my sister Dawn was hungry she went to a soup kitchen,” he said. “It wasn’t in Kitsilano. It wasn’t in Shaughnessy.

“When she needed a methadone prescription filled, she wasn’t headed to Kerrisdale.”

Politicians make the policies, Crey said, but stressed “we are all responsible.”

He testified on the day Dawn, who vanished in 2000, would have turned 53.

Both siblings were devastated by the early death of their father and their mother’s resulting fall into alcoholism.

Ernie turned to petty crime in Hope before being sent to a boys school on Vancouver Island. He found success in multiple branches of the federal government and is now an advisor to aboriginal groups.

Dawn went to foster care and ended up on the Downtown Eastside.

She struggled with mental illness and heroin addiction and was scarred for life when an attacker once burst into her skid-row hotel room and doused her with acid.

Her DNA was found on the Port Coquitlam pig farm but Pickton was never charged with her murder.

Crey believes Dawn could still be alive today if police properly investigated Pickton as a suspect in the missing women cases after he was arrested and charged with attempting to murder a prostitute who escaped from the farm in 1997.

Instead, charges against Pickton were dropped in 1998 and a dozen more women went missing – including Crey’s sister – before Pickton was arrested in early 2002.

“I can’t begin to tell you how angry I am about that,” Crey told Commissioner Wally Oppal.

“I want people to understand how let down we feel by the system and how angry we are to this very day.”

The inquiry also heard testimony about Angela Williams, a Campbell River aboriginal woman found murdered in Surrey on Colebrook Road in 2001.

The murder is still unsolved and isn’t attributed to Pickton but is being examined as another example of a mishandled missing person case.

Margaret Green, the guardian of Williams’ children, testified the daughters were haunted by nightmares and questions about what happened to their birth mom.

She had few answers for them.

Police reports emphasized Williams was a drug addict, a prostitute and native, said Green, who added they seemed to have “tunnel vision” and took little action.

“I really think this is another case of racial stereotyping,” Green said.

The Commission then heard from the daughter of Williams, 21-year-old Ashley Smith.

“It’s been almost 10 years and I don’t know why my mother died,” she told the inquiry.

“I want to know why no one cared enough to treat this case properly from the beginning,” Smith said. “Was it because she was native? Was it because she did drugs?”

The inquiry will hear from more relatives of victims before key Vancouver Police Department and RCMP members begin to testify.

 

Just Posted

Waterworks situation on table at Hope District meeting

Council to make decision on 753 Waterworks transfer tonight

Rail group to bring plan to Abbotsford council

Group is calling for plans to run trains on rail line between Chilliwack and Surrey

Construction project in Hope means bus diversion starting today

Bus riders will have to flag down driver for Route 22

Question Answers with Fraser-Cascade 2019 byelection candidates

Seven candidates have stepped forward for this year’s sudden byelection—learn about them here

Sunshine Valley teens burning with promise

Possibly the youngest in B.C., Sunshine Valley trains 15- and 16-year-old firefighters

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

Hazmat incident closes down Lower Mainland street

One person is believed to be dead, police said

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Latest plan is to fly trapped fish by helicopter over Big Bar slide

Multi-pronged plan set in motion to freesalmon blocked by landslide in the Fraser River

Family of missing B.C. senior with dementia frustrated with situation, heartened by community support

Nine days since Grace was last seen the question remains: ‘How can an 86-year-old just disappear?’

Unsealed record suggests U.S. man convicted of murdering Vancouver Island couple left DNA on zip tie in 1987

William Talbott is set to be sentenced Wednesday in the murders of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg

Okanagan Air Cadet challenges gender-exclusive haircut policy

Haircut regulation inspires challenge around gender identity

Pride flags stolen from Lower Mainland church

Went missing sometime Friday night, says Maple Ridge reverend

25 new wheelchair-accessible cabins open at Cultus Lake Provincial Park

Maple Bay Campground is now home to 25 new wheelchair friendly cabins, a first for BC Parks

Most Read