Georgina Papin is remembered by her family as beautiful, street smart and a loving mother to seven children.
She was also murdered by one of the worst serial killers in Canada.
On Wednesday, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls heard from Papin’s sisters about the tragic end to the 34-year-old woman’s life – and the horrific way the family found out.
“Georgina’s remains were found at the Pickton farm,” said Cynthia Cardinal, who flew in from Alberta with her sister, Bonnie Fowler, to testify in Richmond, B.C. “I found out by reading it in the Edmonton Sun newspaper. I remember that I couldn’t stop shaking and crying with disbelief. That was September of 2002. They had found fragments of her hand bone in the slaughter house.”
The sisters described how they had all been separated as children and put into foster care. Papin was in a dozen foster homes and institutions, they said.
But by March 1999, Papin’s life spiraled out of control. Just one month after giving birth to her twins, she went missing.
Her last known whereabouts were in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. That’s where investigators believe she was lured to Robert Pickton’s farm.
In January 2007, Pickton went on trial for the murder of Papin and 25 other women.
Besides dealing with the pain of her murder, Cardinal testified how her family was treated horribly by victim services. She said they were segregated from other families and denied bus tickets and meals.
“Victim services also neglected to tell us that we would be hearing the horrific way in which Georgina was murdered,” she said. “They told us as we were walking into the courtroom. They warned us too late.”
System ‘failed’ Pickton victim
Lisa Bigjohn testified about her younger sister, Mona Wilson, who also died at the hands of Robert Pickton.
“This is unimaginable how I had to lose my sister to a society and a system that failed her,” said Bigjohn, during the hearings on Friday.
Wilson was in and out of foster care and, by age 11, she was living on the streets. She became addicted to drugs in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver and eventually became a prostitute to support her habit.
But her family said they remember her as someone who was kind, loved the colour pink and wanted to stay a kid forever.
“The only thing that she wanted to do was find her family, especially me,” said Bigjohn.
In November 2001, at the age of 26, Wilson vanished.
Her remains were found on Pickton’s pig farm in Port Coquitlam. She was the sixth woman Pickton was convicted of killing in 2007.
“She was a human being and she was treated like she was invisible,” said Bigjohn.
The hearings continue until Sunday.