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Saturday, March 17, 2007

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

SATURDAY, March 17/07

The Pig Farm trial has been in recess all week but other things have come out in the news regarding violence against women and I thought I should to write a commentary on it. Besides the shocking revalation of all the Native Indian women who have gone missing, 26 of whom Willie Pickton is charged with murdering, in the last several months there have been a number of terrible incidents involving Indo-Canadian women who have been murdered by their husbands.

This is becoming a horrific and shocking thing that is happening all too often and has shaken up the Indo-Canadian community here. The latest was the arrest of the husband and brother-in-law of a lovely pregant mother of a 3 yr old and beloved school teacher, who had 'dissapeared' after attending her prenatal class, and later whose body was discovered burned beyond recognition on a beach outside of the city. From the beginning I strongly suspected the brother-in-law because she had recently kicked him out of her home after he had been charged with harassing and assaulting a girlfriend. Now they have arrested both her husband and the brother-in-law for her murder. This is all so tragic. As is the trial of the missing women from the Downtown East Side.

One of the questions raised in conversation about that case is "Why did the police ignore for so long the tips that were given to them in regards to the missing women, many of which connected their disappearances to the Pig Farm?" The police are culpable in this case for letting it go on so long before anything was actively done. By then more than 60 women had gone missing from the DTES. Most of them were Native women, prostitutes or drug addicts. Is that why their disappearance was ignored? Aren't they human beings like the rest of us who have not had to live such unfortunate lives?

I noticed in the paper yesterday that there has been a movie made "Finding Dawn" which takes its name from the search for Dawn Crey, number 23 among the 60 missing women. She was one of the People of the River, the Stolo from the upper Fraser Valley. Her remains were found on Pickton's farm but there wasn't enough DNA to include her as one of the 26 women he's charged with killing.

This movie is seen as a catalyst to help combat violence against women. The film maker, Christine Welsh, was invited to be part of a screening in the Dag Hammerskjokld Library in the U.N. in NYC as part of the 51st Session of the Commission on the Status of Women.

Welsh takes Dawn's story as a starting point for a journey into the native women who have gone missing or been murdered in Western Canada in communities such as Saskatoon or along Highway 16, the Yellowhead in northern B.C. (Known as the Highway of Tears).

"Finding Dawn" she says , is more about the living than the dead, and how native women are organizing to combat violence against native women. It won the Amnesty International Film Festival Gold Audience Award at the 10th annual festival in November in Vancouver. Welsh said that it was important to show the film at the U.N. event because it brings the issues of indigenous women in Canada to an international audience. She said that the screening at the
U. N. was an emotional one for the 60 people who attended -- especially those who didn't know the story of the missing women or of Pickton's trial.

The trial will resume next week. And so will my occasional commentaries on this historic case.

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