By Shauna Lewis - Raven’s Eye
Nearly 300 people battled the rain to attend Day One of British Columbia's Missing and Murdered Women’s Inquiry Oct 11, but instead of filing into Vancouver’s Federal Court building, a crowd gathered in the street in protest of what many say is a flawed inquiry process.
The inquiry is to examine the police investigation of the murders of serial killer Robert “Willie” Pickton.
“I feel like I have a target on me,” said Gloria Larocque, a 42-year-old mother and member of the Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation. “I’m an Aboriginal woman that is afraid for her and her daughter’s life,” she said.
Larocque was wearing a placard with a bulls-eye on it. She also built a life-sized coffin from cardboard and garbage bags, which she placed in the middle of the street as a symbol of the miscarriage of justice that she felt the inquiry had become.
She said the injustice that families of the murdered women have endured throughout the Pickton police investigation is nothing short of racism and sexism against all women.
“I’m here to support the ladies,” one Carrier First Nation man said quietly. Protester Marvin Dennis was one of the hundreds that formed a large circle on the street directly below the eighth floor court room where the inquiry had begun, stopping traffic for more than two hours at Vancouver’s busiest intersection.
While police, lawyers and friends and family of the murdered women filed into the inquiry, Aboriginal leaders, sex worker advocates, human rights activists and dozens from the First Nations community remained outdoors, drumming and singing and filling the streets with echoing chants for justice and Commissioner Wally Oppal’s resignation.