Police failed missing Aboriginal women in Vancouver: Oppal Report

The results of the public inquiry into the murders of women from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside were released Monday that pinned the blame on police covering the dozens of disappearances.

APTN National News
The long-awaited results of the public inquiry into the murders of women from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside were released Monday that pinned the blame on police covering the dozens of disappearances.

“They did not receive equal treatment from police. As a group they were dismissed,” Wally Oppal, who led the inquiry, said to reporters at the release of the report in Vancouver.

Oppal, the former attorney general, made 65 recommendations in his 1448-page report that says there was a systemic bias by police covering the missing women.

Many of them were victims of serial killer Robert Pickton who was arrested about 10 years ago and convicted of only a handful of the murders. Pickton targeted sex trade workers, many of whom were Aboriginal.

Oppal said he hopes the recommendations will prompt change.

Advocacy groups were critical of the report for lack of focus on the sex trade world.

“We have been calling it a sham inquiry for a variety of reasons and a cover up basically saying that this inquiry will result in basically jurisdiction issues where the (Vancouver Police Department) points fingers at RCMP and the RCMP points fingers to the VPD and nothing to the systemic issues in terms of violence against women and racism,” said Harsha Wallia

One of the lawyers for the families wasn’t expecting much from the report.

“I don’t think this inquiry can do a credible job,” said Cameron Ward

The police had over 20 lawyers to represent them.

The families had only a few.

Before the inquiry started dozens of First Nations advocacy groups couldn’t participate due to lack of funding.

Last week Grand Chief Stewart Phillip echoed his feelings about the report.

“I’m deeply angered with absolute betrayal of Premier (Christy) Clark and Attorney General Barry Penner and Shirley Bond so far as their deliberate decision not to properly fund the Aboriginal women’s groups in the (Downtown Eastside) …the recent Oppal inquiry it is yet another lost opportunity,” said Stewart.

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Before moving to become the APTN News social media producer, Mark was the executive producer for the news in eastern Canada. Before starting with APTN in 2009, Mark worked at CBC Radio and Television in Newfoundland and Labrador and Ottawa.