Exclusive cover story published in 24 Hours Vancouver | March 16, 2014 | Circulation: 280,000+
Re-published on Huffington Post Canada | March 17, 2014
The province and Vancouver are poised to settle their portion of a lawsuit with 13 children whose mothers’ DNA was found on serial killer Robert Pickton’s farm, 24 hours has learned. Each of the children will receive $50,000 plus legal costs.
In addition, sources from the victims’ families revealed the province also plans to announce a $50,000 compensation package for at least 80 other children of moms linked to the Pickton case.
“We’re generally pleased with the settlement,” said Neil Chantler, one of three lawyers who launched the civil case. “Nobody is suggesting that $50,000 is adequate compensation for the loss of their mothers but this settlement is in accordance with the law in this province, and our clients are happy to put this behind them.”
The lawsuits were launched last May against Pickton, his brother Dave and sister Linda, the governments of Vancouver and B.C. – representing their respective police forces – and several individually named officers. The civil case returns to court Tuesday, but will now focus only on the two Pickton brothers. Chantler said Vancouver and Pickton’s sister have been dropped from the suit.
Until now, several family members had been worried the province was ignoring Wally Oppal’s 2012 recommendation to pay the children after his Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.
But not all of the families are happy with B.C.’s offer. Bridget Perrier is the stepmother of Angel Wolfe — whose birth mother Brenda’s remains were found on Pickton’s farm.
“As someone who’s raised a child that is an orphan due to the systemic racism that went on within the province of B.C. and within the VPD, this is disgusting,” Perrier said.
Lorelei Williams lost her cousin Tanya Holyk — whose remains were found on the farm — but wasn’t part of the lawsuit.
“No amount of money replaces a mother,” she said. “But at least it’s something. Wally Oppal said they should do this, but we’ve had to push and fight for it ever since.”
A lawyer who asked not to be named said while the settlements accord with what the children might have received in court, they shine a “spotlight on the woefully inadequate wrongful death law” in this province.
On Thursday B.C.’s justice ministry announced $5 million for Oppal’s recommendations. A spokesperson wouldn’t comment on a lawsuit settlement except to say it’s moving forward with a compensation fund.