Stevie Cameron on the high stakes in Missing Women Inquiry's final round
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Although Cameron alleges the VPD's Missing Persons Unit – which has come under heavy criticism even from the police department – was “hopeless, even criminal” in its activities around the Pickton investigation, she cautioned people to remember that the hunt for Pickton also involved some heroes.
She cites forensic dental expert David Sweet, of UBC, who was recognized for his work on the case with an Order of Canada. Or aprosecutor who broke down and cried in front of the court when victims were removed from those being tried.
"It's the saddest, grimmest story I've ever worked on and probably anyone's seen in Canada in a long, long time," Cameron said.
“It's a heart-breaking story, but it's an important story. It's a sad story. It's a terrible story. So much in this is heroic and noble and inspiring. It's not just a horror story.”
Cameron described often being the only reporter attending court in Port Coquitlam, day-in and day-out. She followed the case for years.
“This thing dragged out for years,” she said. “I followed every bit of it.
“I hope people understand that there were wonderful people who brought this guy to justice and gave everything they had to it. This (inquiry) isn't the place for it – this is a place to get to the bottom of why it went off the rails.”
One of the most touching moments, she recalls, was seeing a prosecutor cry in court after an unidentified female victim -- “Jane Doe” -- was removed from the murders for which Pickton was being tried.
“They were devastated with the loss of Jane Doe,” Cameron recalled. “The prosecutor wept in front of the courthouse, because she said that woman represented those women Pickton murdered who were unidentified still.”
Cameron admires Missing Woman Inquiry Commissioner Wally Oppal for the job he has done during the hearings.
“Given what he's got to work with – it's very limited. He's not re-trying Pickton. He's letting families air their grievances. They needed the chance to do that, and no wonder they're angry. The families needed that. They all felt pushed aside and ignored.”
Cameron she is judge this year for the Charles Taylor literature prize, currently at its short-list stage.
It is an award that Cameron's most recent Pickton book, On the Farm, received last year.
Watch for coverage of the Missing Women inquiry in The Vancouver Observer.