Monthly Archives: January 2007


I saw my friend Archer Pechawis’ performances last night, including Elegy, which made me cry. It’s about the missing women, Cris Derksen reads out the names and birthdates of the women while he lights a candle for each one. And it’s so simple, but after about seven candles when he just kept lighting more and more the weight of how many women died becomes so clear. About 65 women went missing or so. And I also started thinking about people I knew who worked low track at some point during the murders, and just realizing how scary it was, especially when my lover started hitting the stroll during all that happening.

And it’s weird to listen to the media talk about these women, blaming them for being murdered because they were using drugs, like if they’d just stopped using drugs they wouldn’t have been sex workers anymore and they would have gone on to live regular lives. It’s creepy and simplistic. And this idea that these women were transient and no one noticed them going missing. BULLSHIT. When I moved to Van in 1996 people were talking about the missing women, people were agitating the police to actually get off their asses and do something about it. I remember when protests were being held because there was only one officer assigned to the case for YEARS. And sex workers call their moms like anyone else. Just because they’re doing sex work doesn’t mean they’re cut off from their communities. These women are like anyone else, they have friends, family, lovers, they don’t have only johns and the police in their lives, that’s such a dumb idea.

I also have to say something about the media depictions of the downtown eastside right now, and you’ll see it a lot if you’re watching trial coverage. All the shots are those goddamn drive by camera shots. And it makes these women look more like people for sale than if the footage was shot in a more honest way. Right now it’s all John-cam footage. The downtown eastside is different if you’re gathering footage on foot, the way most of the people in the area travel. That all being said, there are some HUGE issues around taking footage of the downtown eastside and I personally don’t even film there, and won’t, ever. I was a camera person for a film school friend and we were right at Main and Hastings and it was awful, the crew had to talk the director into leaving. If you really want to get good footage of the downtown eastside, you have to give your camera to the residents and let them shoot it for you, and they will, they’re very conscious of having a hand in the creation of images of their neighborhood. Rebecca Belmore has some really amazing things she does to approach marginalized communities to either get footage or do performance work in those areas. You can be ethical about it. But I don’t think a lot of the international press are aware of these issues. Really, someone should do a workshop for the press about the particular ethics and informal regulations of filming in the DTES.

I guess I’m worried about the DTES folks. It was such a long struggle to get justice, and while I don’t think this trial will get justice for these women irregardless of the verdict (because I don’t believe Pickton was a solitary agent), I think it’s opening up more avenues for the exploitation of the people living in that neighborhood. WISH is doing some good work trying to protect the women working by giving them information on their rights with the media and so on. It’s such a vulnerable neighborhood though, and now the whole world is staring at it. I am especially worried because some of those women are going to be exposed as sex workers to their families and so on. Apparently one woman had her full name and the illegal drugs she used published in a major newspaper and her family saw it, and she really just didn’t know that could happen. I really hate hearing about stuff like that, and I know it’s going to keep happening.

Jack and Charlie v. The Queen

I don’t know how I ended up at this page, but I found out about a native hunting rights case that went to the Supreme Court with the most kick ass name, Jack and Charlie v. The Queen. Oh man, that is the most awesome name for a case. It should be a movie title. And then I got curious and found out that my old bosses were the lawyers for the case. Ah yes, those halcyon days at Mandell Pinder. It was my second job ever. Sometimes they got paid for their work in salmon. Aw, they were a nice work environment.

Maybe I should do a courtroom drama sometime.

Oh yeah, how I got onto that was I was looking up burning ceremonies in Google. I’m burning all of my crazy stuff. When I say crazy stuff I mean a huge box full of papers and odds and sods related to my manic psychosis of 2003. Some of it is pretty intense, and I’ve decided I don’t want it around anymore. I’ve been planning on burning it for a really long time, but I never did for whatever reasons. But now I’m ready. It’s all going up in smoke in two weeks. And I’m setting off fireworks and firecrackers. But now I feel like I have to figure out how this ritual is going to work, so I’m reading about other burning ceremonies. It’s a funeral really, but a celebratory funeral. At least that’s the angle I’m trying to go for. I’m so stoked.

I found out today that someone I’d known of who had bipolar disorder committed suicide. It made me think a lot about how hard it is to have bipolar, just thinking about all the other people who had manic episodes the same year as me and what’s happened in their lives since. It’s all different. Some people seemed to do well after finding out, and some people went through hell, and some people don’t make it. You really can’t ever tell how someone is going to weather through it. I wish there was more set up in Saskatoon for peer support. Not like, a support group, but centres where we can just meet and socialize.

I don’t think I would have survived as well as I did if it hadn’t been for making a point of becoming involved with the crazy community. In fact, for at least two years almost all my close friends had a serious mental illness and had been in the hospital or in other crisis situations. And they were totally fun people to hang out with. I guess I had a chance to let my guard down, I could joke about hallucinations and people would laugh because it was true. And we looked out for each other, in our own ways.

I guess finding out about this recent death I started thinking about how important it is for us to know each other, as a crazy community. Some of the best coping skills I have in relation to bipolar disorder come from other Mad people who I’ve known. I know sometimes we do irritate the hell out of each other, but there’s something comforting about having friends who really do know what you mean.

I’m tired. I should sleep. This has been an INTENSE anniversary, oh my god. I feel like things have happened every few days that are making me look at it from really specific angles. And the whole drug withdrawal has been making my body suffer the way it did in the psych ward. I don’t know if people knew that about going crazy and being hospitalized, that it makes your body feel really horrible. Twitchy and shaking and aching and electric zaps and christ almighty, it was a horrid feeling. When I couldn’t read anymore, that’s when I got really upset. And I couldn’t draw either. And everyday, the same as the last. It’s such a banal form of terror, it really is.


Ugh, this is messed up. I’m going through Lamictal withdrawal, and my Epival has to get adjusted to deal with now being the sole medication in my body, and I’m realizing that I have to be careful. Bleh. Withdrawals are awful with psych meds, it feels like going crazy but it’s just that your brain suddenly has to make major chemical adjustments. I’m not getting zaps, which is nice, brain zaps are awful. And I just got off Celexa a month or so ago too, so I remember the zaps. They also cause auditory hallucinations, and sometimes when I’m falling asleep I yell out random words completely involuntary. It’s just the way withdrawal goes.

A friend of mine was talking about a nightmare he had that he couldn’t get methadone anymore and all these awful things he did to his body because he was in withdrawals. Intense dream man. But I understand it. Some people say psych med withdrawals are as bad as heroin withdrawal, and it is really awful. I used to get psych meds from other people if my prescription ran out and I couldn’t see the doctor fast enough, it was that painful. I’d literally spend my last two dollars on bus fare to a friend’s house across town if she had paxil. It’s like being an addict.

And I still have one more drug to withdraw from after Lamictal, so it’s not going to end right away.

And I saw Children of Men and now I keep listening to Ruby Tuesday over and over. Jesus. Where is the Quietus?

It really is an awful feeling these last few days, bleh. I guess I have to figure out how to take care of myself. I am getting to some amazing personal revelations and healing and stuff though. I realized that I have a psychiatrist in my head. It’s really fucked, I just automatically attribute every emotion to bipolar now. It’s like, I don’t own any of my feelings, it’s weird. So I’m trying to stop labeling my emotions and instead I’m trying to actively find the root cause of whatever emotion is at hand. I guess I’m trying to be mindful. It’s working too, I’m actually figuring out what’s really bugging me. I’m aiming to figure out how to be more in control of my feelings but without shutting myself down.

Either way, the point is I’m kind of all over the place and just trying to pass as normal for long enough that I can get out of withdrawals without someone hauling me away somewhere for observation. I think I’ll be okay, I’m not seeing magic in everything and I’m not making any final arrangements either. As long as I’m not in one extreme I’m not worried. Just irritated and jumping out of my skin and some typical and old old thoughts are showing up to be jerky. I’ve been talking to another friend about alternatives to meds and she mentioned meditation, and I think I should start doing that now. I think it would help me get more balance and self control.

I think stopping Lamictal is harder because the rash meant I had to stop it completely cold turkey, which is a bad thing for psych drugs. Usually I would have eased off of it in smaller increments over a long period of time, but this was just immediate. Bleh to drug withdrawal, icky. Meth is easier to kick than psych drugs, I kid you not.

The Suit

My friends Cindy and Megan are getting married this April and I have spent literally three months already trying to decide what to wear. For a while I was thinking about trying to honour the Scottish roots in me by getting a kilt made with my tartan, but then someone told me how expensive they are and I’ve had to go back to just a suit. But there are already heated debates about The Suit. My mom thinks I need a lady suit, like one tailored for women’s bodies so it would have a “lady shape.” I said I didn’t want to be lady shaped. Then there was a long discussion about mens suits and the difficulties of fitting E cups in them. I know there are issues with large breasts and men’s clothes, I always wear men’s clothes. And I have always thought that someone could make a killing by starting a clothing line for big breasted butch women, but it hasn’t happened yet. Still, I’m sure I can find some suit that will fit me.

But then I was looking at the Sweet Dreams video on Youtube and thinking about how it’s cut for a female figure but it isn’t femmey.

Its kind of an 80’s look though and I’m going for something more classic. Something along the lines of Dietrich in Morocco in this specific scene:

This scene, incidentally, is why I got a top hat. But I don’t have anything to wear with my damn top hat.

Anyway, I found a Dyke Tyke on Youtube! I don’t know if people know about these guys, they’re pretty sweet and sometimes hopelessly tragic, but if you’re a dyke you have one in your life, like, automatically. They’re the equivalent of fag hags really, but a lesbian version. I don’t know why people think men don’t want to sleep with butches, because there’s a fair number of bio “het” guys who go all goofy over butches. I got chased down the street by one once. Actually gay guys sometimes go all silly and crushed out with butch women too. A friend told me about a gay guy he knew who kept sneaking around and staring at a butch friend of ours. Boys and butch lesbians, just silly.

I have one more butch related Youtube video. My one and only decent karaoke song is Boy Named Sue. I don’t know why I can do it and barely any other ones, but its really fun. Anyway, here is Johnny Cash singing Boy Named Sue at San Quentin.

Thirza’s Youtube Aided 80’s Flashback!

I spent the better part of last night watching t.v. from the 80’s on YouTube. I realized that I am largely created as a product of the 80’s. How could I NOT be who I am without the following examples of mass media that were informing my identity? Come with me, back, back to a time of jelly bangles! I recommend you go away and smoke a joint before you return.

Any cultural anthropological journey of the media HAS to start with the commercials. Here are ten minutes of 80’s commercials to orient you to the time period:

Okay, Sesame Street had some weird psychedelic funkiness going on. And people wonder why I ended up taking drugs? One two three four five six seven eight nine ten, eleven twelve!!!

Before Degrassi High, or even Degrassi JUNIOR high, came “Ida Makes A Movie,” the VERY first episode of Kids of Degrassi Street. This is part 2 of 3. I was always so sad when the dolly got thrown away, oh god that was so tragic!!

Clearly I was a baby pervert when Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) came out, but watching the video I also noticed that this would have been the formative experience that showed me how freakin’ hot female masculinity can be. I just thought Annie Lennox was the most beautiful woman in the world. I now think I was going through some Lacanian butch mirror phase, some kind of erotic narcissism, because I usually go for femmes and I ended up wanting to LOOK like Annie Lennox more than fuck her. Either way, this was the first song I used to sing over and over.

And of course, not all of the 80’s media was fun and games. This was one of my clearest memories of the news when I was a kid, The Challenger Explosion. I was living in Montana when it happened and I remember a kid running into the classroom to say the Challenger exploded, and the teacher cried. They all wore black arm bands for a while after. It was the first thing I ever wrote a diary entry about, and I still have that diary, the Ramona Quimby diary. I remember crying because I really liked my grade two teacher then, she inspired me to write. This is the original NASA footage.

I was going to find a clip of the Electric Company, but then I gave up. There were tons of music videos I wanted to put up too, but Sweet Dreams defined me more than the others. Although Girls Just Want To Have Fun was a defining moment in my childhood. It was the first record I ever owned. Okay, here’s Cyndi for you too, enjoy!

Persephone on a Day Pass

It’s been about four days on this homeopathic medicine and I have a clear head like you wouldn’t believe. It’s like all the muzzy that was there is gone. And I still have emotional moments, but they seem less oppressive. I bawled during Brokeback Mountain, but I think that’s normal, I didn’t cry a tear last time I saw it when I was on Zyprexa, I felt like maybe I should, but I didn’t. I thought about a friend I was fighting with and sniffled but then it went away. I still get angry but it doesn’t seem overwhelming. I have a sudden fondness for 80’s music, but I don’t think that’s really relevant. I feel less overwhelmed with things, I can see how to approach large tasks in smaller, more managable pieces. My problem solving skills have improved. I feel very silly and goofy again, which is how I usually am, and lucky for me no one’s bringing up the Mania word just because I’m in a good mood. I’m having soft fuzzy day dreams about submission, which is cute, they’re like little fluffy clouds of pervy fantasy drifting through my daily life. Ooo, there goes another one! It looks like me on my knees in a collar, aw. How cute.

And the immune system stuff is, holy crap. I haven’t had ONE sore throat in the morning since I started my medication, and my nose barely ever runs whereas before it just went CONSTANTLY. So that has impressed me. Maybe I will survive the coming pandemics after all.

I was reading about the head injury medication I’m taking, it said it’s indicated for people who don’t like to talk and have a hard time keeping from shooting themselves in the head. I had to laugh, that is SO me, oh my god. It’s nice to laugh about one’s own lemming tendencies. Now I just wish I didn’t have to pee so damn much.

I missed a doctors appointment. I’ve decided it’s time to talk to her about quitting my medication. I’m nervous about it. It feels almost like breaking up. I hope she’ll agree to work with me on getting off meds, because she is one of the most awesome doctors I’ve had. I don’t want to have to dump her because she doesn’t agree. I think she will though. I’m not even having seizures, I haven’t spaced out in a while, and usually it happens a few times a day. I don’t hear things. I’m not obsessively ruminating. It’s like, EVERYTHING is gone. This has never happened on allopathic medicine. I’m sure there’s still some oddness, but jesus, it’s so different. It’s like being Persephone on a day pass.

It really does feel like a kind of liberation. It’s nice to not have all of those negative things attached to me, and to be able to think and feel clearly. It’s nice to not have side effects. And it’s a huge relief to think I might not ever need to go back to the psychiatric system, for anything! Jesus christ, what a fraudulent branch of medicine. I read somewhere that a psychiatrist suddenly said “Oh my god, people don’t trust us because we’re taking bribes and kickbacks from the pharmaceutical industry! We have to stop it!” Ha ha, too late. He said they were seen as employees of the pharm industry. Well they are! I dunno, I mostly don’t want the bipolar label because I don’t want to be prey for the psych industry anymore. I wouldn’t mind being bipolar if it didn’t come along with psychiatric intervention. But it does, so I don’t want to use that word to describe myself anymore. I’m much happier with TLE, at least then I’m in the realm of neurologists who actually look at the brain instead of labeling me based on a cluster of symptoms.

Mostly, I’m just enjoying this close to drug free lifestyle of being able to think and feel.

I want Candy

I’ve pretty much decided to get facial tattoos, specifically traditional Plains Cree women’s lip chin tattoos. Essentially it consists of three sometimes double lines extending from the bottom lip to the chin. It’s kind of tricky trying to research the meanings behind it. I know I have to know more about it before I do it, but I’ve decided to get it done when I’m 30. I think it is often done around the time of marriage, which would be cool as well. I would prefer to get it done as part of getting married, but I don’t want to wait around for a wife either. Some traditionalists would take me to task, but I think it’s okay to ascribe new meanings onto old traditions. Lots of younger people are reclaiming their traditional tribal tattoos, like the moko for the Maori people, which are gorgeous! I think one of the things I like about getting the lip-chin tattoo is that it demonstrates my tribal affiliation, which is something not everyone notices because I’m a little pale face. I know it will probably limit the places I can get jobs, but I think those places are also limiting their pool of potential employees. Eventually there are going to be so many modified people in the workforce that people are going to have to start relaxing their rigid standards. Besides all of that, I don’t particularly want to work in a place that gets upset over body mods.

I think I want to get it once I’ve learned some more Cree, enough to have a modest conversation, and possibly if I get married. Maybe I will get the three lines and then add a parallel line to each when I get married.

I’ve been reading more about TLE and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). The story of my brain injury is kind of silly, so I won’t be offended if you laugh. I was about four years old when it happened, maybe even younger, and it was Halloween night. I was so excited about getting candy for free that I suddenly fainted and hit the back of my head against the wall. We had to go to the hospital and get stitches, and if my head is shaved you can still see some scarring. I told Deanna that if anyone makes a film of my life and they shoot that scene they have to play I Want Candy during it. The irony of course is that I don’t have much of a sweet tooth except for my cola addiction. So that could be how I ended up with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, which is still undiagnosed officially but I’m pretty sure I have it.

I also noticed there is one really common seizure I have on a regular basis. I’ll just suddenly remember some weird snippet of time that has strong emotions, often negative emotions but sometimes happy ones, and to stop myself from being upset by it I make a noise. Just one weird little noise, sometimes a word but usually some weird grunt or murmer or something, and then it’s over. I also get sudden waves of fear or sadness or disgust or happiness, out of no where, like I could be sitting in a room with people I love and suddenly be sure someone’s about to run in with a machine gun, and then it goes away. Just weird crap.

Some people say bipolar disorder can occur with TLE, but then I just read somewhere that pretty much all symptoms of TLE that interest psychiatrists are really entirely under the umbrella of neurology and that trying to say someone with TLE also has a mental illness is just unnecessarily complicating things. I would believe that. It makes sense, I got a brain injury, I recovered as well as a four year old can, and I ended up with TLE that sometimes mimics bipolar disorder. I’m irritable and moody and hear things and get migraines where I go blind and a couple times I’ve hit the floor and thrashed around for a few minutes without knowing it.

But on the whole, I dunno. It’s my brain. It doesn’t work as well as I wish it would, but it’s all I have and it’s all I’ve ever known. I think I’ve done pretty awesome considering what I have to work with. It’s still weird to see feelings come up that have no relevance to the current situation of whatever, but I’m more or less used to the unpredictability of it. And sometimes the unusual sexual feelings are entertaining. After a certain point I have to stop listing off all the things that are “wrong” with me and just accept it as my own normal brand of reality. And really, the only things that have ever truly bothered me are the occasional yet inevitable suicidal moments. I can live with all the rest of it, I can manage all the rest of it, even the voices, it’s just trying to figure out how to deal with that ONE thing that led me on this whole wild psych goose chase. The irony being that I’ve managed to create my own systems of support for suicidal nights during this decade long medical misadventure. The only time I thought I might REALLY do it was when I was in the hospital. I came closer there than anywhere. And whereas before suicidal feelings were more about an existential escape route, being suicidal in the hospital was more about the desperation for a physical escape route. There really didn’t seem to be any way out, and I didn’t trust those freaks called The Staff to know what the hell Normal is. I have a natural distrust of people who gravitate towards work in the Psychiatric Industry. I think some people might go in well intentioned, but it can all spiral down into the Stanford Prison Experiment quicker than you can write a prescription for meltable Zyprexa.

Ziggy played gee-tar . . .

When was I in a Biennale?

I did a vanity google and found out I screened in some places I had no idea of. Like, I did not know I screened at the 9e Biennale de l’Image en Mouvement in Geneva. I mean, that might have been nice to go to. What the hell, am I really this flaky? I need to keep more on top of these things. What was I doing in 2000? And what the hell were they showing? Was it my vulva again? Was my vulva in Geneva? Okay, now I should just go to bed, no googling after 10:30.

Uh .. . . I don’t want to do that again soon

I just spent two hours with about six boxes of crap looking for a letter from the Canada Council for some additional material for another application and found some weird weird stuff. I found of all things my application for commitment to an institution. That was like, ugh, so many ugly energies attached to one tiny piece of paper. I found a letter from an old/new cute girl that is nearly a decade old. I found Miranda July’s invitation to her Miss Moviola chain letter video art thingy she did way back. I found Stephen Kent Jusick’s address in New York, I was probably supposed to send him something and didn’t. Good thing I have distributors. I found grad school applications, along with essays on Cindy Sherman and Madchen in Uniform. I found a small reproduction of Les Sabines that made me cry at the Louvre. I found some crazy writings, I mean, high mania crazy writings. I found a photo of an old high school friend and some short stories I wrote when I was a teenager. I found a manual for a video switcher circa 1985 that we used to use at Emily Carr in 2nd yr Video. I found some faxes from Oberhausen and a few congratulatory letters for scholarships and so on.

You know what I was thinking though, I mean, some of it’s interesting in some sentimental kind of a way, but most of that shit is really, just shit! Most of it doesn’t mean anything. I know for a fact I still have the fuck off letter my best friend in high school wrote me. I still have the fuck off break up letter my first girlfriend gave me too. In fact, I bet I even still have the break up email I got from another ex archived in my inbox!!! Why do I save mean things? And most of my love letters are all in emails.

I think I will save some of it. But there is definitely stuff I don’t need around, like bills from 1998. Or grant applications that were printed out in 2000.

I don’t know what to do about the stuff from when I had my psychosis. It seems kind of weird to keep it around. I might burn it. I have some friends who go to Burning Man every year, maybe I should try and go this summer and just throw all my crazy stuff on it and let it the fuck go. Actually, thats a really good idea, I think I’ll look into that. Maybe my cuz Deanna will want to come with me to Burning Man.

The nice thing about looking at all that stuff was to realize its all in the past. Stuff changes. I don’t feel like its me, it’s mostly just detritus.

More psych talk, and thoughts on The Trial

I got to talk to my best friend and ex girlfriend Margaret last night, whose number I lost until I did a reverse address look up. I love Margaret, she’s so swell. She’s working in an alternative totally voluntary mental health crisis centre. She was the number one support person for my suicidal nights. I don’t know how she was so amazing, she just was. Maybe because she didn’t make me talk about it unless I wanted to. Maybe because she would just hold me all night so I could sleep. Maybe just because she’s awesome and made sure I knew someone cared about me while at the same time not being freaked out by me being full of the snuff its. I had two other awesome support people in my life, but Margaret is still the best. I’m glad she’s doing that work, she’d be awesome at it.

I told her about deciding to go off meds. She’s supportive of it, which is nice. And then I talked about girly things along the lines of “OMG! She’s SO cute!”, which was fun. I’m still nervous about talking to my doctor about going off meds. I think I’m ready though. Someone told me I might get a bit worse while doing this long extended change over, so hopefully people won’t panic and throw me into the abusive hands of psychiatry again.

I was reading that nearly 50% of people with mental health issues recover completely, but it doesn’t make it into psychiatric knowledge of outcomes because most of those people have to go AWOL from psychiatry to get better. I would believe that. I guess I’m just nervous because I don’t know how to divorce myself from psychiatry yet. I’m lucky in that I don’t have a psychiatrist, just a G.P., which is a start. I think G.P.’s are a bit more open to things than pdocs, at least the ones I’ve had have been. And they’re more aware of other conditions, whereas psychiatrists seem to only know their goddamn DSM. Tons of medical conditions can look like mental illnesses. Still, G.P.’s are just as faliable, especially if they’ve read my file which describes some definitely bizarre behaviour. Never mind that I only did that stuff for two weeks out of my nearly twenty-nine years on this earth. It’s like looking at my meth use when I was nineteen and telling me I’m still a meth addict even though I haven’t touched it or thought about it for nearly a decade. And I’m still surprised that no doctor ever picked up on the fact that my one and only manic episode was triggered by antidepressants. One would consider it to be a side effect of my medication, in fact it is in the side effect profile, but that one side effect got me a diagnosis that will follow me the rest of my life.

Ugh. So TIRED! The psych industry is just a tired sad little tyrant, the schoolyard bully of all the medical disciplines.

In other thoughts, the Pickton trial is starting and I’m dreading following it on the news. Anyone who lived in BC during those years knows some of the stuff they aren’t saying, and maybe won’t say. I heard that he was sending body parts to the rendering plant which supplies fat for use in cosmetics around the world. I also heard he was selling his “pork” to restaurants in the downtown eastside, I don’t know much about it but I know they did have to issue a tainted meat warning that freaked a lot of people out, including me when I realized I ate pork in the downtown eastside. Just fucked up. Not only that but women had been going to the cops about Piggy Palace for years and would get threatened and turned away. Those cops SO knew what was going on, they so did. It pisses me off when I read or hear their description of their investigation, like they were actually doing any work. I seem to remember for the longest time they only had one or two people working that case, even though so many women were disappearing and so many people were getting upset, they were even denying a serial killer was at work. And now they’re saying he killed 49 women. So what happened to the other sixty or so women who are missing? Is there someone else out there? And do we know if women have stopped going missing?

Not only that, but I’m tired of those womens lives being summed up with the words “drug-addicted prostitute.” It’s such a value judgement. They did have drug problems, they were in the sex trade, but that doesn’t mean that’s all they were. What freaks me out about that use of language is that it frames them for the public in the same way that the killers framed them (and I truly believe there was more than one person involved). I noticed they don’t really mention that most of those women were Aboriginal, which I think was a major reason for them being singled out as victims. I think the questions we as a society have to ask is why was this allowed to happen for two decades with the police knowing that women working the streets had taken issue with the New West pig farm. Why were these women in particular allowed to be hunted for so long with such minimal protection or attention. And furthermore, how is this trial coverage going to perpetuate societal feelings about Aboriginals, about sex trade workers, about drug addicts, about women. We have 300 international media folks accredited to cover the trial, where was the international media when these women were going missing?

One one hand it’s easy for us to point to Robert Pickton and say he did all of this, but there were so many issues inherent in Canadian society that enabled this to happen. For one thing, the fact that Aboriginal women are the highest risk group for homicide in Canada. Justice is generally not served in the case of murdered Indians, which makes us a prime target for whoever wants to get away with murder. And then we have to look at how anti-prostitution laws have endangered womens lives unneccessarily. In Canada prostitution is technically legal, BUT communicating for the purposes of prostitution ISN’T. That means no street walking, no newspaper ads, no escort listings in the phone book. You’ll note that all of these things still exist, but they’re illegal. Either way, Vancouver’s needed a safe way for women to engage in prostitution, something like Amsterdam’s red light district which has been talked about over and over. It’s not ALWAYS going to be safe, but at least some risks could be lowered. And then we also just have to look at why certain demographics in our culture end up having drug problems. It’s not the drugs that are the problem, the drugs are a symptom of a problem, a much larger problem. Say someone got sexually abused by a second generation residential school survivor who became a perpetrator, or by a white foster father, that could kick off a long standing drug habit to try and cope with that kind of trauma. I will make the grand sweeping statement that a lot of these women ended up in dire poverty as a result of colonialism.

So, it will be interesting to see how the coverage of this trial works, but I know it will be missing out on most of the dialogue that was going on in Vancouver about the missing women. I also feel bad for the people who will be going to the trial who know the victims. That is going to be so traumatizing. I wonder if the truth of what happened will ever get out, or if we’ll all be called conspiracy theorists.