In unvanquishable number.
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep has fallen on you.
Ye are many – they are few.
The Disappeared of Canada :
How and Why the Killings Have Never Stopped
A Sequel to last issue’s article “Child trafficking in
Beautiful British Columbia ” in The Agora newspaper
By Kevin D. Annett
“Ten of the last dozen women to be taken to the killing site at Piggy’s Palace were accompanied by Mounties or regular cops. You think it was just Willie Picton who was killing them?”
Marion, sex trade worker, downtown eastside of Vancouver , May 10, 2006
In October of 1992, when I was still a United Church clergyman, I was approached by a colleague at my first Presbytery meeting in Nanaimo . The topic of child abuse came up, and after a few moments, the other man, a retired minister, smiled and gave me a sort of insider’s look. He lowered his voice and said to me,
“It’s easy to get a child in this town.”
I must have looked shocked, for his smile faded.
“What do you mean?” I said.
“Nothing” he replied. “Some people are, you know, interested in that sort of thing.”
It all felt like an offer, masked but real, like a sort of masonic handshake: something known to insiders only.
The same man had worked in the United Church ’s Alberni Indian residential school for years, and piloted one of the “mission boats” that visited coastal Indian villages. One of my native parishioners later accused him of raping her as a child, but the RCMP threatened her not to press charges.
Later, after I was fired from the church for asking too many questions, I learned of the well-protected child trafficking network that linked the coastal residential schools with wealthy men and clubs in Vancouver . Just how many children disappeared into those clubs and never emerged is unknown; but they are among the more than 50,000 residential school children who cannot be accounted for.
“No crime ever disappears; it just adapts” a journalist once told me. And in British Columbia, the crime of abducting people is rampant, on the rise, and very lucrative, since it is part of a deadly international network in human trafficking.
George Brown is a retired aboriginal RCMP officer who was part of a community-based “Missing Persons’ Task Force” in Vancouver . His group documented hundreds of missing people until their work began to identify the complicity of local police, politicians and businessmen in the disappearances. At that point, George’s group disbanded.
“We didn’t want to get killed” George told me during a videotaped interview in the summer of 2005.
“I was called up by a senior officer in the force and told, ‘George, the number of disappeared women is nine, and it’s going to stay at nine. Stop sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong or you may lose it.’ The fact is I personally know two fellow Mounties who were linked with Picton and making money by bringing girls out to his place. None of the girls ever came back. Everybody knows about it.”
I asked George who “everybody” was. The world-weary man shook his head sadly.
“The Mayor. The Chief of Police. All the senior press people. Hell, you can’t get into those positions without making a deal with the drug lords who run this town. The days of organized crime as a separate thing are over. It’s all business run and legit now. It’s organized corporate crime now – the drug importers from Asia and the real estate developers and the off shore investors, they’re all part of the same gang. The cops all work for them. And body snatching pays well.”
George Brown’s group documented a link between the disappeared women of the downtown eastside and the trans-pacific organ trafficking network based in China . According to sources within the network, at least a dozen women and men are abducted and murdered every month in Vancouver , their bodies disposed of in protected grave sites on the north shore, and their organs shipped overseas.
Most of the disappeared are homeless men, transient youth or sex trade workers.
A year after I interviewed George Brown, I was given more confirmation of his groups’ claims. I received a message to meet a woman named Annie Parker at Oppenheimer Park in Vancouver ’s downtown eastside. Annie was a short, timid woman with haunted eyes and scars along her neck and arms.
“I got these by threatening to go to the press with what I knew” she said matter of factly, pointing to the scars.
“Who did it to you?” I asked.
She told me the man’s name, a senior RCMP officer, and then said,
“Who doesn’t matter. They’re all doing it. It’s called the ‘hooker game’. The Vancouver cops will pick up girls off the street, drug them with scopolamine and film them as they fuck them, in a cop club downtown on Georgia street . Then sometimes they kill the girls and film that too, and sell it for $25,000 as a snuff film.”
I asked her what happens to the bodies.
“That was one of Steve Picton’s specialties. I met all the Pictons. Steve runs a snuff film operation in Coquitlam and then he dumps the bodies at a hunting camp about ten miles up from Horseshoe Bay , near the Sea to Sky highway. There’s a special grave site there with sealed containers in a metal cistern. I was taken there, I seen it. It’s watched over by the Mounties.”
Les Guerin is an aboriginal man who lives and works as a maintenance man on the Musequam Indian reserve near the University of B.C. He claims that the reserve holds at least two body dumping sites from which he personally has excavated human remains, and had them forensically examined.
“As far back as 1989 I saw a man who I later identified as Willie Picton drive onto the Musqueam reserve and bury several large bags. Later when I saw his face on the news, I dug up the bags and had them examined at a lab at SFU. The report says they contain human and pig bones remains, including the humerus, pelvis and skull pieces of a young woman in her twenties.
“The weird thing is I told the Vancouver Police, the press, everybody about this, and nothing was ever done. I sent the police the forensic report, me and my buddy Jim Kew, I told the CBC and even the lawyers for the families of Picton’s victims. Nothing. The cops roped off the site in 2006 and that was that.”
A signed letter from Musqueam Band Housing Officer Glenn Guerin dated October 29, 2004 indicates that Dave Picton was employed by the Museum Indian band for a three month contract during 1990 to provide land fill for local street construction.
Frustrated by the lack of police response, in December of 2005, Les Guerin mailed the bone fragments he obtained from the Picton deposit, along with the forensic report, to Amnesty International’s head office in London , England. The package was returned unopened the following month.
Next month, the eyes of the world will be on British Columbia and its Olympics. But will those eyes perceive the missing men, women and children whose remains lie scattered in hidden graves – and the authorities who put them there? Will the visiting world media record the truth of those who continue to disappear?
Most important, will the killings be stopped?
That depends on us.
Rev. Kevin Annett is a community minister, educator and award-winning film maker who lives and works in Vancouver ’s downtown eastside. He is a member of the revived Community Task Force into Missing Persons. For more information on this Group, and for a copy of their recent report on which this article is based, contact Kevin at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-888-265-1007 (messages).
His website is: www.hiddenfromhistory.org
Read and Hear the truth of Genocide in Canada, past and present, at this website: www.hiddenfromhistory.org , and watch Kevin's award-winning documentary film UNREPENTANT on the same website.
UNREPENTANT: Kevin Annett and Canada's Genocide
- Winner, Best Foreign Documentary Film, Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, March 2007
- Winner, Best Canadian Film, Creation Aboriginal Film Festival, Edmonton, 2009
Soon to be released feature film, THE DIARY, based on Kevin Annett's epic struggle to bring to light genocide in Canada - see the trailer at:
“Kevin is more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize than many who have received it in the past.”
- Dr. Noam Chomsky
Institute Professor Emeritus
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
“A courageous and inspiring man." (referring to Kevin Annett)
- Mairead Corrigan-Maguire
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
Belfast , Northern Ireland
"As a long time front line worker with the Elders' Council at the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre, I stand behind what Kevin Annett is trying to do for our people. The genocide that continues today and which stemmed from the residential schools needs to be exposed. Kevin Annett helps break the silence, and brings the voice of our people all over the world."
Carol Muree Martin - Spirit Tree Woman
"I gave Kevin Annett his Indian name, Eagle Strong Voice, in 2004 when I adopted him into our Anishinabe Nation. He carries that name proudly because he is doing the job he was sent to do, to tell his people of their wrongs. He speaks strongly and with truth. He speaks for our stolen and murdered children. I ask everyone to listen to him and welcome him."
Chief Louis Daniels - Whispers Wind
Elder, Turtle Clan, Anishinabe Nation