Memorial held for Pickton victims in lieu of burial
Though the remains of Robert Pickton's victims have been released to their families, authorities say few have yet been claimed. Without proper funerals pending, a memorial was held Sunday to honour the deceased.
Mourners gathered at Vancouver's Crab Park, located at the foot of Main Street, for prayers and a candlelight vigil for 32 women who vanished from the Downtown Eastside.
For many in the community, it was a time for healing.
"The families are hurting, as well as the country," organizer Kelly White said. "All of us are one heart, we're one community, and one family that have suffered."
Most of the missing women are believed to be victims of serial killer Robert Pickton. For years, their remains were held with the B.C. Coroners Service.
They were released this month after the Supreme Court of Canada upheld Pickton's six murder convictions, and Crown prosecutors chose to stay the remaining 20 charges against him.
White says many families still can't bear to retrieve the remains, however, and she planned the memorial so they could still find closure.
"The families that aren't able to do the gruesome task … this is in support of them," she said.
Some, like Duane Howard, a relative of one of the women whose deaths will never be prosecuted, are still struggling with the Crown's decision. "Hard time accepting it, the fact that we're not going to get a trial for our family members," he said.
Howard is among those calling for a public inquiry into the Pickton investigation, which could shed light on why it took so long for police to capture the killer.
A Vancouver Police Department report released on Aug. 20 suggested the RCMP's failures kept Pickton out of prison until 2002.
According to the report, Mounties received compelling evidence to arrest Pickton three years earlier. By the time he was arrested, 13 more women had gone missing from the Downtown Eastside.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Penny Daflos