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Court hears from victim's families

THE CANADIAN PRESS

NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. — Some of the victim-impact statements delivered Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster, B.C., at the sentencing hearing of Robert Pickton for six counts of second-degree murder:

Mona Wilson's sister: I Lisa Bigjohn, went through the great loss of losing my sister. It has affected my life a lot. I now live in a dark world.

Because of this person's actions, my life has totally changed. I am not the same person I used to be. A part of me is still out there searching for her. Sometimes I see someone that looks like her and it shocks me. I can't shake the manner of her death.

I live in fear now because of how she was murdered. When I hear a scream it gives me an image of her screaming and begging for her life.

Her loss has brought anger into the lives of my children. They always express to me how could something like that happen to her, she was streetwise?

I feel that my family is being punished by this man's actions. The murder of my sister brought a lot of pain into my family's lives. I have lost over 200 pounds. I have lost my appetite for food and sleep is difficult. I miss talking to her and confiding in her. She used to tell me her problems. She was reaching out to me. She wanted a home. When she was very young, I took care of her, I was a mother to her too. Just as we were reconnecting she was ripped away from me again She was very happy to be in touch again and Mona was making plans to come and live with me in Abbotsford.

No matter how hard I try I just cannot shake the feeling that her death could have been prevented. She had a lot to live for, to reunite with the family, meet her nieces. She was so looking forward to meeting them. Now they will never know the sister I love.

Mona wanted to get off the street, to get clean. She wanted a better life, future and hope, instead her death changed my life and the lives of my family members forever.

I honour her daily by trying to live as she had hoped too. I am sober now for seven years plus. Since the day I learned of her death each day of sobriety is my promise to her. I want justice for my sister and her family. She will rest in peace only when this man is given justice. Then she and the other victims and their families can have peace.

Karin Joesbury, mother of Andrea Joesbury: The loss of the child is one of the hardest a parent has to go through. Any loss of someone close to you or that you love is difficult even under the best of circumstances.

Our small family has endured many losses in our life but the loss of my oldest Andrea is almost unreal.

Our family is living in an ongoing nightmare. It seems to be never-ending, there is no way that this has not affected my life.

The high-profile nature of the case and the magnitude of it affected everything including my health, my relationships with my family and with others.

The gruesome, gory details are something out of a horror movie only it is a grim reality for some and it is usually the most vulnerable in our society. These images plague me. It makes me sick to my stomach. My daughter did not deserve to die in such a way.

She was also a mother who loved her daughter. I have been forced into seclusion, trusting no one, even those close to me at times. I have found my name in media and books, feel I am trapped no matter where I go. It is hard to talk about, it is hard not to talk about, I have so much anger.

Before this happened, I wanted to go back to school so I could work bringing social issues to light. I was interested in documentary film work, bringing a better understanding to current social issues. I have been involved in social work for many years. I have a drive to protect and advocate for those who face multiple barriers.One of my goals was to set up a foundation to protect (them) and possibly find funds and connect with supports and resources so they could succeed at their life.

Since all of this happened this part of my life has come to a halt. I still want to help people but I feel so depleted and my ability to think clearly has been affected.

My focus is scattered and my ability to even communicate has been hampered. To go to counselling was even difficult. I have to constantly monitor and I feel that I work hard not to talk about things that it is best not to. There are also times that I don't want to talk about it. The horrifying facts of my daughter's death haunt me. I just keep on crying for her, wishing I could have been there for her.

I have had times where I felt suicidal. All the stress and isolation has really taken a toll on me. Tension and stress worrying about my other children fills my days.

I have felt constantly bombarded by so many things it doesn't feel like I can properly grieve, I don't feel safe anywhere. I feel that I am living in a fishbowl, even turning on the TV or looking at the newspapers is incredibly disturbing. The images that I constantly see takes my mind right to the place of the horror and torture that I think Andrea went through. I feel trapped.

I avoided getting into relationships because of trust. No one can begin to understand what this is like for our family. It is hell.

Our small family have endured many losses in our life but the loss of my oldest Andrea is almost unreal. The impact on our family has been immeasurable, it has almost torn our family apart, This has left us isolated from each other, dealing with our grief in separate ways.

I don't know what to do anymore. I am lost as is my son. My youngest tries to be strong but put herself in risky situations to find her sister at a very young age as did I.

I am a parent and a grandparent and worry every day about them. They are strong but this has tested our strength beyond the limits. It has become difficulty to even be around some family members as it is stressful for everyone and it brings sad reminders — holidays and celebrations are hardest.

It is difficult to be in relationships with others. I am scared to make friends. I am scared to talk to anybody.

Feeling trapped like this with a combination of media concerns and relationship complications is killing me.

I sit around and stew about things and get more and more depressed. This is not who I am, but this is my reality. This is all consuming. I feel so vulnerable and it feels like my instincts are getting scrambled. I'm normally an open and trusting person. I like helping people out and now I don't know who I can trust and don't know who I can reach out to.

Stress has affected my life on so many levels. Physically I am a complete mess. The stress of all of this has made things so much worse. All the things I usually do to boost my spirits, walking, getting fresh air, painting, sketching, journalling, etc. are things I can't do.

My mobility is next to nothing. I feel trapped also within my own body.

I have medical conditions that cause some things but this makes it so much worse. Stress has caused my health to deteriorate in a way that makes me further isolated. I constantly worry about the effects of all this on my children who don't always want to talk about it.

They loved their sister very much and were very close.

I don't sleep because of pain and there are always thoughts running through my mind about all these things. I can't sleep at night, I'm completely exhausted due to stress, pain, anxiety and I can't stop the thoughts.

It is a struggle to get some of my basic needs met. I don't know who to reach out to. I've been labelled in the past and this prevents me from getting the help that I need. Having to move just about killed me.

My daughter was a lovely creative girl who wound up in a freezer cut into parts. The pain will always be with me.

My mind creates images that I can't get out of my mind. These actions killed not only my daughter but once a living family.

The love is still there but we're all pretty messed up. I don't know how I will ever recover from this.

Lila Cummer, grandmother of Andrea Joesbury: We have such a small family here. They are so precious to us. Andrea was like our own child because her mom was ill a lot and we took her with us to help her mom out.

We have so many wonderful memories going to the beach and parks. She was a beautiful little girl who loved to dress up.

We are going to miss her wedding and her children. She always wanted to have kids.

She wanted to have a family. She wanted to come and get her daughter. She doted on her daughter and took wonderful care of her.

She was going to come back to Victoria. She said she was ready to come back. She had been working in a clinic to help others that were on drugs to try and get them off.

The last phone call we had from her was that she was going to a party. She was getting dressed up in her best clothes because she had never been to a party.

Someone in the background during that phone call told her that she looked pretty. It was the last we heard from her.

She was so kind and so nice. She was a wonderful, helpful person that never complained. At times we can't think about her because it hurts too much. I can't stand reading the paper any more. I worry about my daughter Karin.

It seemed that the whole world was reading this horror story that is ours.

I ended up in the hospital when we first found out about Andrea with heart problems.

She will be missed forever. We have many memories. We have boxes of pictures that are too difficult to look at. She is forever loved.

Daughter of Brenda Wolfe, who didn't want to be named but identified as A, submitted by social worker David Routledge: At age 14, I felt it was important that she give this victim impact statement so that she could speak for her mother. She stated that she never got to know her mother, she then got to know her through how the media portrayed her as a result.

She now realizes that the media had sensationalized a great deal about her mother but in the beginning she did not know this and believed all that she had read.

She therefore grew to hate her mother. She has learned in the last year that who her mother was is different than what she did in the last year of her life She wonders if Robert Pickton had not killed her mother, if her mother would have returned to her and be her mother and the mother that A needed her to be.

Because of how her mother was portrayed in the media, she began to feel that she did not deserve to have good things in her own life, because she is the eldest daughter as is her mother, she felt she had to take on the responsibilities her mother could not manage.

This became an additional burden for her as the conflict about her mother increased.

She felt that did not deserve to have good things happen in her life. She felt that she was going to wind up like her mother and she had to assume responsibility for her family She has come to realize that these are not responsibilities a young girl should have. She said that sometimes her heart got so full of emotion that she did not know how she was going to hold all the emotion in.

She tried a variety of ways to deal with these emotions. Some of the ways were not positive such as angry bursts and experimentation with alcohol.

Others were more positive, such as support from biological and foster families. She also writes to deal with the internal pain she feels.

There's a poem she wrote called Silent here: Sitting here in the silence with it being pure dark/ Wishing someone would break it with a soft bark/ You sit there crying and everything hurts/You want someone to help you, not just lurk/ You think about everything spoken that night now you want to take back things and forget that fight.

A states that her family has been torn apart. First of all the loss of her mother and then by the internal conflict that has developed in the extended family over the situation. A feels that she cannot trust anyone now. If she could not trust her mother to be there for her, how can she trust anyone else? A has done her own research into her mother and her past. As part of that journey she has revisited her mother's last year of her life and the last moments of her life. She wonders what he mother was thinking when she first met Robert Pickton and she wonders what Robert Pickton thought of her mother.

She wonders what her mother was thinking in her last moments and what was it that caused her to go to the farm.

She is visited by dreams of her mother and what happened to her. She wants the trial to be over so she can deal with the past, put it in the past and move on with her life.

She knows that her mother was a good person. She was a person caught in addiction. A realizes that she will never have the love of a mother but she is grateful for the life and the supports that she has now.

Her mother should not have died that way and deserves to be portrayed in a more positive way.

She does not want her mother's life story to be that of a crack- addicted prostitute but as one who's life journey was cut short by Robert Pickton.

She wonders if mother could have returned to her if she was still alive, and be the mother that A believes that she could have been.

Brenda Wolfe's mother Elaine Belanger: The impact the trial has had on me has been devastating and traumatizing. There is an anger within me that reacts to fear, powerlessness and pain. I've started to heal and the media opens up the wound again.

And now this impact statement has again reopened up the wounds.

Oh, I know that life is a healing process from the time that we are born until the time that we meet the creator.

There is a hole in my heart and soul that will not ever close, the loss of my first-born child Brenda.

Brenda was a mother to two beautiful little girls. As much as I try to protect (them) from the circumstances that ended their mother's life it was impossible.

There are some things that are really troubling me. I am wondering how a portion of my daughter's remains ended up on the farm. I am also wondering how my daughter Brenda's jacket ended up in Mr. Pickton's bedroom.

Even if Brenda had not been murdered like this, giving her money and drugs would only enable her addiction.

I really want to know what happened to my daughter in the final hour of her life. Only the person who murdered her knows that and can tell me that.

Brenda was not only a mother, a daughter, my first-born was loved and wanted. Brenda was a sister that was loved, wanted and respected.

Brenda was an aunt and was very proud, loved by her nephews. Brenda was also a niece and loved, adored and respected by her aunts.

There is a pain in my heart that will not heal. I have tried to forgive you as my native traditional elders have suggested me to do. This is impossible to do. The tears that I shed would fill an ocean. And knowing my granddaughters are growing up without a mother is heartbreaking and devastating. The dreams I have of my daughter Brenda are so real and she is alive. And then I wake up and the emptiness in my stomach realizes Brenda is gone but not forgotten.

If the teardrops I shed made a pathway to heaven I would walk all the way and bring you home again and hold you in my arms again Brenda and never let you go.

Brenda Wolfe's sister, Lenora Belanger: My sister Brenda's cause of death haunts me deeply inside. I can't help but feel so scared inside when I think about what she went through. I really felt very worried about Brenda emotionally and physically in her passing on.

My sister brought two beautiful girls into this world and a lot of the fear I have is for my two young nieces, who truly didn't deserve to have their mother taken away from them.

I am aware that my sister Brenda was battling a drug-addiction but I truly believe in my heart that she was on her way to recovery and that there wasn't one day that her two children didn't cross her mind.

Brenda was a remarkable person. She was the most genuine person I have ever met.

I referred to Brenda in this manner not because she is my sister but because I felt and adored who she truly is.

Brenda was an incredible caregiver for her two daughters, her loving ways were amazing and are dearly missed.

This is the harshest for my nieces emotionally. I can't even imagine the pain they are going through and will continue to have throughout their lives. The fear, loneliness, anger and confusion they both feel. It breaks my heart.

Everything about their mother's remains. Being exposed to the public through the media has been traumatizing for my nieces and all of the people who knew and loved Brenda.

Brenda's mother, our mother, I believe will always be traumatized by Brenda's death. I can't begin even begin to explain the utter pain and devastation I saw in my mother the day we were notified of Brenda's passing.

I will never forget the scream of horror that came from our mother in our apartment that day when RCMP detectives and Frida confirmed our fear being a reality.

Our sister Patricia and our nephews have lost one of their favourite persons. Brenda's someone we truly always wanted around us.

My sister Patricia lost her only best friend, I believe and I know she feels just as much pain as I have described if not more. Everything about what has happened to my sister Brenda aches within me in the worst way. I didn't think a person's heart could break but when you think of someone you love having her body dismembered on a pig farm, what led up to it, I believe this person who killed my sister killed a part of us but broke her, Brenda's heart, most of all.

Bonnie Fowler, Georgina Papin's sister: I am the youngest sister of Georgina Papin. I miss her so bad that it hurts in my heart.

I feel that there are so many things I needed to share with her as a sister. Georgina was my first sibling to contact me as we were all separated growing up.

In 1982, Georgina phoned me from Vegas and let me know that she was my sister and that we had other brothers and sisters in Edmonton

I remembered Georgina's voice like she was here. It was so warm and friendly. She made me feel so loved and that I belonged somewhere, it was the best feeling ever.

I was raised in B.C. and have been back and (forth) from B.C. to Edmonton throughout my adult life and have gotten to know my other brothers and sisters in Edmonton.

I found out Georgina was living in B.C. and I went to visit her a couple of times and ended up moving to the same town as her so I started getting to know her better. I really admired her pretty home and the way she was with her children, she was very funny and made them laugh a lot as she did with most everyone that knew her.

Because Georgina and I were just starting to get know each other, I feel very cut off and helpless when I think of her death and I get so angry that I cry and I can't think.

I actually need somebody to talk to right away. I feel that I can't think about it too much or I feel I will go nuts. I won't be able to handle it. Actually I can't handle it and then I feel even more guilty I wish I could have been around more or something, anything. This whole ordeal has been devastating to my entire family to the point where some of us are even blaming each other.

I guess we are all dealing with it in our own ways. Sometimes I feel guilty because I was here and I was close and I didn't realize she was having a hard time, I always thought of Georgina as being tough and could always take care of herself because of her tremendous inner strength that she carries.

I really looked up to Georgina and her ways, I feel that there will be a day that I can open up and feel the rage and anger I have inside.

I feel angry more when I hear that these women were just drug users and prostitutes because I didn't know Georgina that way and I refuse to think of her that way and because there are so many cold-hearted people in this world it really really hurts me and makes me feel helpless to change it.

My heart goes out to all of these families of these mothers and daughters and aunts and sisters and I can't believe that this has happened for so long and to so many people. It is so sad and devastating.

Cynthia Cardinal, Georgina Papin's eldest sister: God give me strength.

I have never been so disgusted in my entire life when I think about what was done to my sister Georgina Faith Papin. I try not to think about what happened, it makes me gag and I have since developed ulcers.

I despise the cowardly way in which Georgina was killed.

Georgina had unfortunately hit a low in her life but she was a strong woman and would never have given up because she loved her children and she would have turned her life around.

She had that opportunity stolen from her when she was only 34.

This has left an empty hole in my family's life. I see pain in their eyes every time we mention Georgina. It is hard to believe how one human being can do this to another human being. It is just insane but my family is strong and we will be there for each other and overcome this terrible time in our lives.

For my sister Georgina, now that justice has served, may you rest in peace with the rest of our other sisters.

I miss you and I love you as do your children. You are also missed by all the people you touched in your life that will never be forgotten.

God bless you and goodbye.

Elana Papin, Georgina Papin's sister: I am really hurting right now. I can't stand the fact that all my sleep is restless and that I'm burning out just thinking of the unspeakable acts of violence that occurred to our sister and how we had to hear about the inhumane acts against our sisters, women that needed guidance and love and possibly a shoulder to cry on as a release.

We had Georgina's memorial on Oct. 5, 2002. The years have gone by and we have not yet even felt any comfort or satisfaction for the grief of our families that we have gone through or for our own families.

Georgina was a loving mother; she was my sister, she was our mother's child, I write in anger of the news that sent me into a rage, a rage inside of me, that has me in the grips of never really knowing what happened to her.

All we had was bone fragments. We couldn't even have a funeral for her. The memorial was hard enough to take in but the idea of court was even more surreal.

She's gone. She was a great lady. People in the community knew her; elders knew her. She would talk to anyone and smile and dance.

I know I need therapy now and all of this has been inevitable considering the details we were subjected to.

I have a really wicked time eating pork now. It used to be one of my favourite meat meals and I've tried, but not long after, I get sick and usually vomit. There is nothing I can do about it.

This has changed my way of thinking, my way of living, my way of eating, the way I sleep and the people I talk to.

Georgina had once read a book called the Celestine Prophecy, and I've now read it and my eyes are open to being more understanding of what happens in this world but I will never forget the damage that you caused our family with your evil deeds.

I pray that she is on her way to the kingdom now and that she is watching down on this trial.

I love you Georgina and I pray for the sake of your children that there is complete justice done on your behalf.

And all the people, all the beautiful spirited victims, may the great spirit carry you through to your next great adventure and may he always love you and gently guide you in a kind way and take all these flowers to a nurturing garden and replant Georgina Papin.

Rick Frey, Marnie Frey's father: My family would like to express some of our feelings regarding the murder of our mother and daughter Marnie Frey.

Our loved one went missing the first days of September 1997. She was put out as missing immediately as it was her birthday and we were talking to her by phone and we were waiting for her to call when she received her presents.

The call never came.

From the day we reported her missing until this day, over 10 years later, our emotions and the impact this case has had on our families has affected greatly in many different ways.

It was not just Marnie's death that affected us so strongly, our emotional anguish was made even worse by having to deal with issues around the police investigations, like travelling from home to the Vancouver area for meetings.

We were troubled so much that the focus had been on the man, the man charged with murdering our loved one rather than on Marnie herself and her family. We had a lot of difficulty finding counselling for ourselves and we felt frustrated by not having our proper forum for expressing our concerns.

We felt ignored and brushed aside and we felt Marnie was being brushed aside because people just saw her as a drug-addict and a prostitute, not a mother and a daughter.

Back in 2002, we used to be able to meet with the families of some of the other victims and that gave us a chance to express our feelings and concerns. But some of us got on. That outlet has also evaporated. Another source of stress that has (been on) us is the long time it has taken.

Marnie disappeared in '97 and we didn't find out for sure what had happened to her until well into 2002. And now it has been five years for the trial to come to an end. All this waiting has taken a terrible toll on our family, our mental well being.

Marnie's daughter Brittney who we adopted in 1993, has had to endure cruel taunts at school, such as on hot dog day she was asked what it is like to eat her mother.

I was asked on one occasion to pick her up from school because three girls were picking on her about her mother. She had to leave the school as a result of this.

Having to deal with Brittney's school in relation to having this bullying was very difficult for me and my wife Lynn. Our family will be forever tormented by visions of what happened to our loved one, daughter and mother Marnie who was just an innocent woman caught up in the wrong time and place.

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