Survivor of domestic violence hopes to memorialize victims of Pickton
By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor
A Port Coquitlam mother of four is lobbying to the municipal government to create a memorial site for the 33–49 women who were murdered by Robert Pickton.
Jami Roberts has petitioned for the last two years to build a healing garden on the former property of Pickton.
“It affected us as a community, it truly did, to know that these horrific crimes took place in our backyard,” Roberts said to CBC.
Roberts hopes that a memorial site will not only ensure that the victims are not forgotten, but will also stand as a statement condemning violence against women, especially those who are more often subject to violence, such as indigenous women and women working in the sex trade. Roberts also formerly experienced domestic violence.
“I don’t think we would be talking about this today if [the victims] were a group of soccer moms because it would have already been done by now. It’s a reflection of how this community views these women,” Roberts told Tri-City News.
The project has been met with mixed to positive reviews. While most believe that a memorial would be a good idea, some are concerned with the choice to place it on the Pickton property, which lies directly south from an elementary school. The project received approval from the victims’ families, although they don’t wish to be part of its planning or construction. As well, there was strong positive feedback received from Tri-City Transitions, which works with women and families suffering from violence.
Yet despite an overall support for such a project, the City of Port Coquitlam has been reserved in taking action.
“We’re not trying to be preventative, but I think this needs to come from the community and families,” said Mayor Greg Moore to Tri-City News. “We don’t want to do the wrong thing.”
When asked by Roberts about the memorial, families of the victims said that they would prefer such a memorial to be planned by the city.
Meanwhile, Port Moody-Coquitlam MLA Linda Reimer described that although she was supportive of the project, there are legal issues with building a memorial on the Pickton property, such as mortgages and liens.
“I think it’s important because these events happened in Port Coquitlam, and it’s important to acknowledge and create some permanent space that marks that,” Maggie de Vries, an author who was related to one of the victims, told Tri-City News. “The city is wounded by this. My sister died in your city 18 years ago and there’s been nothing. It hurts to see that.”