Downtown Eastside activists protest Missing Women Commission of Inquiry on final day of hearings

Dalannah Gail Bowen, Downtown Eastside, Missing Women Commission of Inquiry
Kelly White, DTES, Missing Women Commission of Inquiry
Downtown Vancouver at the protest against the Missing Women Commission of Inquir
Downtown Vancouver at the protest against the Missing Women Commission of Inquir
Downtown Vancouver at the protest against the Missing Women Commission of Inquir
Downtown Vancouver at the protest against the Missing Women Commission of Inquir
Downtown Vancouver at the protest against the Missing Women Commission of Inquir
Downtown Vancouver at the protest against the Missing Women Commission of Inquir
Downtown Vancouver at the protest against the Missing Women Commission of Inquir
Downtown Vancouver at the protest against the Missing Women Commission of Inquir
Downtown Vancouver at the protest against the Missing Women Commission of Inquir
Photos by Craig Fleisch (www.craigfleisch.ca)

"Justice denied" was the main message from a collective of women´s groups and activists gathered outside the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry on Granville and Georgia Streets on Wednesday morning while the Commission held its final hearing. 

"Blame blame blame, no one taking the credit," said Kelly White, who testified at the Inquiry. "[The Vancouver Police] are still in denial and still no one wants to take responsibility for what happened."

Many of the 100 men and women gathered at the protest were members of the Women´s Memorial March Committee, a collective of individual activists, women´s shelters, and advocacy groups based in the Downtown Eastside.

A lawyer representing the families of missing and murdered women had harsh words for the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry on Monday during his final submission.

“This process lacked independence and transparency…it is incomplete as we stand here today,” lawyer Cameron Ward said in The Georgia Straight.

The inquiry has been beleaguered with criticism from individuals, community groups, lawyers and academics for its narrow mandate and lack of focus on the systemic racism and alleged corruption in the Vancouver Police Department in the inquiry’s timeframe.

Since the commission’s establishment in October 2011 by the BC government, a lawyer representing the women’s families, Robyn Gervais, withdrew completely from the process based on fundamental disagreements on the commission’s scope and approach.

The commission was established to assess and review police investigations between Jan. 23, 1997 and Feb. 5, 2002 into the disappearances of women from the Downtown Eastside, and the details of police and court dealings with Robert Pickton. Pickton was charged with the deaths of 20 women, mostly from the Downtown Eastside, and was convicted of second degree murder of six women in 2007.

The commission, led by former BC Attorney General Wally Oppal, is due to submit its final report to the government in October 2012.

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