Canada's Lost Girls Stacey Dooley Investigates


Canada's Lost Girls

Stacey Dooley travels to Canada to report on over a thousand unsolved cases involving the disappearance or murder of indigenous women and girls, spanning decades.


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Transcript


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This programme contains some strong language and scenes which some viewers may find disturbing

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Canada has a dark secret...

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..the murder and disappearance of thousands of women

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from indigenous communities.

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She was abducted, sold to the sex trade.

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They said they chopped her up.

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I think that somebody did something to her.

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We are all packing. We all have knives.

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Then where the fuck are these girls going to?

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You'd better not be taking me anywhere I don't want to go.

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Why have so many killers escaped justice?

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There were other women that had gone missing,

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and their remains found within 8km.

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Do some Canadians believe indigenous lives to be worth less

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than a white person?

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Some of the worst racists carry a gun, and they carry a badge.

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They said that the police were, at best, incompetent,

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at worst, blatantly racist. What would you say to that?

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This road is known as the Highway of Tears.

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It's believed nearly 40 indigenous women and girls have died

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or disappeared on this road.

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But they are just a fraction of a much larger problem.

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Since 1980, the police say almost 1,200 indigenous women

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have gone missing or been murdered right across Canada,

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but other organisations estimate it to be as high as 4,000.

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One of the youngest is 14-year-old Aielah Auger.

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In 2006, she was found mutilated

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and dismembered by the side of the road in this spot.

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I'm here with local indigenous campaigner Brenda Wilson

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and retired cop Raymond Chalco.

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Can you talk me through what state Aielah's body was found in?

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It was horrific.

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It just seemed to be dumped, left as garbage.

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They had to have a closed casket because her body was so torn up

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and parts of her body were missing.

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Just not something that you want to remember your beautiful little child

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to have gone through.

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Aielah's case, like many across Canada, is unsolved.

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And Ray, you're a private investigator.

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Just so I'm totally clear,

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of all the indigenous women that have gone missing on this highway,

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have any of the perpetrators been held accountable?

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No. None of them have been held accountable.

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-Zero?

-Zero.

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The police investigators of the day said that

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they were, in a lot of cases, convinced that had they been given

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the resources that they needed to do a proper investigation

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they would have been able to solve some of the cases.

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But they weren't given those resources by...

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..people higher up in the police department.

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Most of the victims were last seen alive trying to hitchhike between

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the logging towns

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and remote indigenous communities known as reserves.

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Why do so many of the girls, Brenda, have to hitchhike?

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They are either trying to get to a doctor's appointment,

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they're going to visit family in other towns or other places,

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they could be going there for grocery shopping

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because all of that is available here in the city,

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but in our remote areas along Highway 16,

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all of those services are not available.

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-So basic necessities, really?

-Basic necessities.

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And there's no bus services that go off into those remote areas

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to bring them back and forth.

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Why isn't there any public transportation?

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It's always stated that there is no funding available,

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that it's not an issue.

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How can they say it's not an issue!

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We've really had to push.

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How can any sane, rational individual say that this isn't an issue?

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Well, it's been said many times from different mouths in the government system.

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How many women have to die for it to be an issue?

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Well, so far there's quite a few on Highway 16 that,

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you know, have lost their lives.

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Putting them, you know, having to be in those situations.

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Ray believes most of the homicides on the Highway of Tears

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are carried out by opportunistic male perpetrators.

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This stretch of road is a sexual predator's dream, right?

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-Yes.

-It's in the middle of nowhere.

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That's right and, you know,

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you're just at the mercy of whoever happens to come along.

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There's a pattern of victims being disposed of

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along the remote logging trails.

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It's quite atmospheric, to say the least.

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So, Ray, there are presumably hundreds of side roads like this?

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Yes. You can see little trails, probably animal trails,

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so that if you were wanting to take a body

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it's fairly easy to get through most of that brush

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and then in 50 feet you're totally out of sight,

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so the chances of anybody ever finding the body in there

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are just remote to none.

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It highlights how vulnerable these girls are.

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-It's just very, very scary.

-It's your worst nightmare.

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Imagine yourself if you're hitchhiking to Prince George

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and I stop and pick you up, and you think everything's fine,

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and all of the sudden we're here parked,

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and look at the size of me and look at the size of you,

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and look at what is around.

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Your initial reaction would be to scream or run.

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Who on earth is going to hear you or see you?

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Exactly. I mean, you'd be terrorised.

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This tragedy is not isolated to remote rural parts of Canada alone.

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It's much more widespread.

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For decades, this dark secret has been overlooked, and even denied,

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by some Canadians.

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But in the indigenous communities which make up under 5% of

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the country's population, it's causing outrage.

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THEY SING

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Why are so many of these young women going missing and being murdered?

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In search of answers, I've come to the city of Edmonton.

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Many indigenous women work the streets here in the sex trade.

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This makes them incredibly vulnerable.

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So we're down 118 Ave, here. The girls will call 118 Ave

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and 95 Street "death row" because a majority of all the girls that have

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gone missing or have been found murdered all worked in this area.

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For 20 years, indigenous social worker Kari Thomason has provided

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support and rehabilitation for Edmonton's highest-risk sex workers.

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Stay safe, honey.

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Kari has over 900 girls logged on her database,

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many of whom are homeless and addicted to meth or heroin.

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How many of these girls are indigenous

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that are out on the streets?

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90% are our own people are out here.

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-90?

-It's a high percentage.

-Yeah.

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Because throughout Canada, the indigenous population

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-make up a tiny percentage.

-Yes, absolutely.

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But in comparison to how many of the girls are going missing

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and being murdered,

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-it's disproportionate.

-Absolutely.

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Kari's known some of the girls since they were young.

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We stop and speak to and indigenous woman called Tee,

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who is three months pregnant.

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What age are you, Tee?

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30, yeah?

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'Tee got pimped into sex work by her own mother

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'when she was still a child.'

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How long have you been working on the streets?

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-Ten years old?

-Yeah.

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So this is all you've ever known?

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What's it like?

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Just knowing the shit that that kid's going through,

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you know, it sucks.

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What's gone on there?

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Mum was an active addict, and you need that fix,

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you need that fix, and sometimes you do some god-awful evil things,

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and sometimes you sacrifice your child for the dope.

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Alarmingly, many of these girls have been trafficked from their reserves

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by members of their own community.

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A lot of them get targeted.

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-By who?

-Sadly, by our own people as well.

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So, I mean, you've got little popcorn pimps

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going around to the round dances and the powwows, hooking up to girls,

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and giving that attention and just

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the right amount to be able to lure them away from their families.

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You know, give all the, "Oh, we'll just go to the big city,"

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or "we'll go into town for a weekend."

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-So behave like a boyfriend?

-Absolutely.

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That's part of the game, sadly.

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And the girls confuse that behaviour with love?

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Most of them have never had that healthy outlook

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of what a relationship should look like, right?

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When you're surrounded by a lot of abuse or addiction...

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That's so interesting, Kari,

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that often it's the indigenous man that target their own women.

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Time and again, these women's high-risk lifestyles

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are caused by the people who first exploited them.

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Shelley, do you mind me asking you

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why you're out on the streets working?

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In the last year alone, three of Kari's girls have been murdered.

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Shelley herself has had a close call.

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-Have you ever had a bad date?

-Yes.

-Tell me a bit about that.

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Both of them?

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-That must be such a wake-up call, Shelley.

-It was.

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How many of your friends haven't been as lucky as you?

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-They're all dead?

-Yes.

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If you're in this vulnerable position,

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the likelihood of you going missing skyrockets.

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Yes.

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The perpetrators, are they mostly Caucasian,

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or are some of them indigenous themselves?

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For the bad date ones that we've got,

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most are committed by non-aboriginal.

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We've got a lot that are Caucasian.

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For me, tonight has just been

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a complete eye-opener from start to finish.

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You know, you hear the statistics

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and you're fairly familiar in terms of what's going on,

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but then you're out on the streets with these girls,

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and the sheer desperation and pure hopelessness is just so apparent.

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And, for me, it just sounds like these girls...

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..are up against it, often from the very start.

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And they are being exploited from so many different angles.

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Clearly, the sex trade has made these girls more vulnerable to predators,

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but why did so many end up on the streets?

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Is something going wrong in their communities?

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Since European colonisation,

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Canada's indigenous population has been decimated

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and largely marginalised to the remote state-funded reserves.

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I want to see one of these reserves for myself,

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so I'm flying to the far north of Alberta.

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So we're heading down right now to Fort Chipewyan.

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One of the reasons we are having to fly is because, actually,

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you can only reach this space by a small aircraft

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or a boat for about nine months of the year.

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For the other three months you're lucky if you're able to drive,

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but that's because the water will have frozen over,

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so there's winter roads, if you like.

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I've never been anywhere like this before in my life.

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I mean, we really are in the middle of nowhere.

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It does feel like that.

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Many reserves across Canada suffer from chronic unemployment,

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substance abuse and domestic violence.

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The majority of indigenous people believe these social problems

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stem from places called residential schools.

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Like this one, on the outskirts of Fort Chipewyan.

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For over a century,

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indigenous children were taken away from their families by

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the government and placed in these church-run boarding houses

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to learn white Christian values.

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These controversial institutions were eventually abolished,

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with the last one closing in 1996.

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'I'm meeting Steve Courtoreille.

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'He is the reserve's chief, and was a pupil of this residential school.'

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It's lovely to meet you.

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We're going to have a nose inside this building?

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-Is that OK?

-Yes, it is, of course.

-Awesome. OK. I'll follow you.

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Wow!

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My goodness!

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It doesn't look like a thing has changed.

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No, it's pretty much the same as when they left here.

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Steve, are you able to explain to me why

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the government and the church felt it necessary

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for these residential schools?

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The purpose is to take, as they called, "savages"

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and turn us into human beings.

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They had a job to do - it is to take that Indian out of us.

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-To strip you of all your culture?

-Yes.

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To force the families to put their children in a residential school,

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the families had no choice.

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And you, yourself, Steve, you were a pupil at this residential school.

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Tell me a bit about that, please.

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I was here for ten years.

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-At what age?

-At a very young age, before my sixth birthday.

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There was a lot of abuse that went on.

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Physical, mental, spiritual, emotional.

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Every day to be called a savage,

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"Good for nothing. You will never amount to nothing."

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Those were the continuous comments made to the kids.

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-Vulnerable kids.

-Yes.

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-That have been ripped away from their families...

-Yes.

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-..and forced into this space.

-For sure, yes.

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Then as I got a little older, then there was sexual abuse that went on.

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You're caught in the middle of that fear

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and knowing that nobody's going to believe you.

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-You've got no-one to go to.

-Yes.

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Not a single person that you can turn to and say,

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-"Actually, I'm being abused sexually here."

-Yes.

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The biggest damage that was done was they destroyed the families.

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The extended family concept's not there no more in this community.

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And there's still so much pain from the residents

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who are still alive and well in this community.

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Steve, it sounds to me like, you know, the youngsters,

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your generation, were struggling then,

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-the younger generation here are struggling now.

-Yes.

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How much of a part have the residential schools played

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in what we see today?

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Just imagine now... when the children...

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..the students of that resident school started to become parents.

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There's a lot of violence, a lot of family break-ups.

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I mean, it's common knowledge that sometimes

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the abused becomes the abuser.

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-Yes. Yes.

-It is learned behaviour.

-It is.

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'For Steve, this domestic violence towards women

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'is what's forcing them to the cities and into danger.'

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The woman had no choice but to leave their home.

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They were forced to leave in order to keep their children safe.

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And where else do they end up?

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In the streets.

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Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Calgary, Toronto, wherever.

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-Prostitution.

-Yes.

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Do you know what, it's just tragically inevitable

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that these things are going to happen.

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These residential schools are going to have a knock-on effect through

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-the generations.

-Yes.

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Accusations of racism towards the indigenous population

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casts a shadow deep into Canada's past.

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But many believe prejudice is still a problem today.

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They are critical of the way the authorities have investigated

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missing and murdered women's cases.

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In Leduc County, on the outskirts of Edmonton,

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the remains of five women have been found, all within a six-mile radius.

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No-one has been held accountable for their deaths.

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One of the victims was 20-year-old single mother Amber Tuccaro,

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who was taken in 2010.

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'I'm meeting a friend of Amber's family, April Eve.'

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-I'm Stacey.

-Hi, nice to meet you.

-Yeah, likewise. So nice to meet you.

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I wanted to show you this motel.

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It was the last place that Amber Tuccaro had been seen alive.

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What happened that night? Do we know?

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All we know is that Amber had intended to go to Edmonton

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and had left here and caught a ride...

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..into Edmonton.

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So the last time Amber was seen alive

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-was when she got into a vehicle?

-Yes.

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'April and Amber's family believe

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'the police have mishandled the investigation.

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'They claim that right from the start, officers missed the opportunity

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'to gather crucial evidence.'

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Was there any CCTV with the police?

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Yes, but it took the police quite some time to even go ahead

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and contact the local businesses to get a tape of

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the day that Amber had gone missing.

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So by the time they did that, they had already recorded over it.

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There were so many holes in the investigation from

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the time that Amber first went missing.

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Totally unacceptable.

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That's unbelievable. So there was CCTV available, but they left it...?

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There could have been, yes.

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If they would have acted quickly, who knows?

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Still, we are no closer to having any idea who killed her?

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No. I mean, we're not getting anything back from the investigators.

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The family are often the ones that have to call them to find out,

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you know, have there been any leads.

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Where is the task force investigating?

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You know, where's the community's awareness

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that in their own back yard here in Leduc

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there could possibly be a serial predator?

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But the criticisms of the police don't stop there.

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It wasn't until two years after Amber's disappearance that

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the authorities released an astonishing piece of evidence.

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A recording of Amber's last phone call from inside

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the vehicle that picked her up.

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She can be heard talking to the unidentified suspect.

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Had this recording been released at the time of Amber's disappearance,

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her family believe it could have generated more meaningful leads.

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'For Amber's mum Vivian and brother Paul,

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'the police failings started right from

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'the time they reported her missing.'

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When do you decide to call the police?

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I called them on Friday.

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And Amber was missing from Wednesday night.

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And they said to me,

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"Oh, maybe she's just out partying,

0:23:250:23:26

"and she'll call or she'll come back."

0:23:260:23:29

And I was like, "I know Amber, I want to report her missing."

0:23:290:23:34

Do you feel like the police didn't take you seriously?

0:23:340:23:39

They didn't care. It got to the point where I was calling

0:23:390:23:44

and I don't know if I filled up their voicemail or whatever

0:23:440:23:46

because it would go to switchboard,

0:23:460:23:49

and the lady in the front would be like, "Vivian, you called already.

0:23:490:23:52

"Leave a message." I was like,

0:23:520:23:54

"I did leave a message but no-one is calling me back!

0:23:540:23:56

"So I'm going to keep calling."

0:23:560:23:59

To me, they didn't give a shit. They didn't care.

0:23:590:24:03

It took the police several days to put Amber on

0:24:030:24:06

the missing persons list,

0:24:060:24:08

during which time vital clues are likely to have been lost.

0:24:080:24:11

I think it has to do with just because my sister was Indian.

0:24:110:24:15

That they think, "Oh, we don't have to go as hard,

0:24:150:24:18

"or work as hard on the case." Already, she's labelled.

0:24:180:24:21

They think because First Nation girls, you know, they drink,

0:24:210:24:24

they do drugs, they do all this, so do other nationalities.

0:24:240:24:28

What makes Indians less important?

0:24:280:24:30

So what if she parties? So what if she does whatever she wants to do?

0:24:300:24:35

That doesn't make her less of a human being.

0:24:350:24:38

She was my baby.

0:24:380:24:40

She's my baby.

0:24:400:24:42

SHE CRIES

0:24:420:24:44

They just made her out to be a typical stereotype,

0:24:440:24:47

she's a First Nation or Indian native,

0:24:470:24:49

and just feed us a bunch of bullshit.

0:24:490:24:52

Amber left behind her son Jacob, who is now being raised by Vivian.

0:24:530:24:59

Jacob's growing up now, he's asking questions about his mum.

0:24:590:25:03

He wishes his mum was here.

0:25:030:25:05

And that's what breaks my heart most.

0:25:060:25:09

I mean, needless to say,

0:25:170:25:20

your heart...

0:25:200:25:22

totally breaks for the pair of them.

0:25:220:25:25

But I know that it isn't sympathy they are after,

0:25:270:25:30

they just want justice.

0:25:300:25:32

You know, whatever Amber was or wasn't doing,

0:25:320:25:35

whatever she was or wasn't involved with, you know,

0:25:350:25:39

she was a 20-year-old innocent victim...

0:25:390:25:41

..who was brutally murdered, and nobody's sat in jail.

0:25:430:25:47

How common is this apparently dismissive police attitude

0:25:560:26:00

to crimes against indigenous women?

0:26:000:26:02

Lorimer Shenher is a detective with the Vancouver Police Department

0:26:040:26:08

and was one of the lead investigators

0:26:080:26:10

on Canada's most infamous serial killer case - Robert Pickton.

0:26:100:26:16

-MAN:

-The RCMP descended on Pickton's farm in 2002,

0:26:160:26:19

and launched a massive search that uncovered the remains, or DNA,

0:26:190:26:22

of 33 women.

0:26:220:26:24

Officers first started looking at Pickton

0:26:240:26:25

as they investigated reports of missing sex workers.

0:26:250:26:28

He has been charged with 27 counts of murder,

0:26:280:26:31

and eventually convicted of six.

0:26:310:26:33

Lorimer believes Pickton could have been caught earlier,

0:26:330:26:37

but the police didn't take the matter seriously enough

0:26:370:26:39

because most of the women were indigenous.

0:26:390:26:42

So racism was clearly an issue, live and kicking,

0:26:430:26:47

when you were part of the police force?

0:26:470:26:50

The institutional racism came into play in terms of

0:26:500:26:53

people not thinking it was that important

0:26:530:26:55

to explore why these women were going missing.

0:26:550:26:58

And I could see that in my investigation.

0:26:580:26:59

This file just kept getting put on the corner of people's desks,

0:26:590:27:02

and I kept checking in with them week after week, month after month,

0:27:020:27:06

only to find out that they really weren't doing anything.

0:27:060:27:09

You know, he killed at least 14 or 15 more women in that time.

0:27:090:27:12

I can't help but think that if them girls,

0:27:120:27:14

the majority had have been white women,

0:27:140:27:17

it would have been dealt with a lot quicker.

0:27:170:27:19

It would have. And that was exactly my sense too.

0:27:190:27:21

I think that a lot of the families and the women involved

0:27:210:27:24

in our investigation, they had very frustrating interactions

0:27:240:27:28

with our office staff over the years.

0:27:280:27:31

I heard my own secretary saying, you know,

0:27:310:27:33

"Speak Canadian. This is Canada. Speak English."

0:27:330:27:38

Talking to them like they're deaf and stupid.

0:27:380:27:40

And you would get told you're a bad parent.

0:27:400:27:42

It was your fault that they were on the street in the first place.

0:27:420:27:45

That you're an alcoholic or drug user yourself.

0:27:450:27:48

These were things that I heard being said to the family members.

0:27:480:27:52

And these are the very people that everybody's supposed to be able to rely on.

0:27:520:27:56

-Yeah.

-These are the people that are supposed to help the vulnerable

0:27:560:27:59

and stand up for what's right.

0:27:590:28:00

Yes, but it's two-tiered level of service, isn't it?

0:28:000:28:02

If you're a taxpayer, if you're white, if you're a working person,

0:28:020:28:06

if you're not drug addicted, if you're not an alcoholic,

0:28:060:28:09

then you get this level of service.

0:28:090:28:10

But if you're any of those other things,

0:28:100:28:12

this is the level of service you can expect.

0:28:120:28:14

There are similarities with an ongoing case now,

0:28:140:28:18

so I met a lady called Vivian,

0:28:180:28:20

she lost a daughter, Amber, initially she picked up the phone,

0:28:200:28:23

reported her daughter missing.

0:28:230:28:25

She said she felt they were very dismissive,

0:28:250:28:27

they weren't taking it seriously.

0:28:270:28:29

And apparently, you know,

0:28:290:28:31

there were just a catalogue of errors from start to finish.

0:28:310:28:34

This is a template that you could apply

0:28:340:28:36

and you could just drop it down over the top of literally hundreds

0:28:360:28:40

of investigations across this country.

0:28:400:28:43

Literally hundreds, and starting right from that phone call.

0:28:430:28:46

'I personally feel like it's quite predictable,

0:28:460:28:49

'and totally understandable,'

0:28:490:28:51

that when you're having these conversations with

0:28:510:28:53

the indigenous people they feel completely disillusioned

0:28:530:28:58

and really let down by the police.

0:28:580:29:00

What you expect less to hear...

0:29:000:29:03

is this being confirmed by an individual

0:29:030:29:05

who was part of that very force for over two decades.

0:29:050:29:08

How prevalent is this racism today in wider Canadian society?

0:29:150:29:20

'To try and get a sense of it I've come to 630 CHED,

0:29:220:29:25

'a popular talk radio station in Edmonton.'

0:29:250:29:29

It's 11:05 here in the studio on this Tuesday morning.

0:29:310:29:35

Stacey Dooley, welcome.

0:29:350:29:36

Thank you so, so much. I'm delighted to be here.

0:29:360:29:39

CHED nation,

0:29:390:29:40

you are invited to the table to contribute to this conversation.

0:29:400:29:44

Peter, what's on your mind?

0:29:440:29:46

'How do we even know that the women are being killed off the reserves?

0:29:460:29:51

'They could be killed there, there's so much violence,

0:29:510:29:54

'babies getting shot, people getting killed all the time.

0:29:540:29:58

'How do we know that they don't just dump the bodies off the reserves

0:29:580:30:02

'and blame the white man?'

0:30:020:30:04

What I would say is that indigenous women accept

0:30:040:30:07

that domestic violence is an issue on the reserves,

0:30:070:30:11

so I don't think anyone's arguing with that.

0:30:110:30:14

There's every chance that these girls could be being killed by

0:30:140:30:17

a white man or by an indigenous man.

0:30:170:30:20

Rob has been holding the line. Hi, Rob.

0:30:200:30:23

'Hi, guys. I'm of the mind that what's going on on the highway

0:30:230:30:27

'is a systemic problem.

0:30:270:30:29

'The reserve system needs to be abolished,

0:30:290:30:32

'natives need to be included in our society, not segregated from it.'

0:30:320:30:36

I appreciate the call, Rob.

0:30:360:30:38

On the text line, a listener says,

0:30:380:30:40

"It is absolutely mind-boggling to me that I'm 29 years of age,

0:30:400:30:45

"and I had never heard anything about residential schools

0:30:450:30:49

"until two years ago."

0:30:490:30:50

Well, you know, I'm in a similar boat.

0:30:500:30:53

I didn't realise that these residential schools

0:30:530:30:55

existed here in Canada.

0:30:550:30:56

Stacey, let's get back to the phone lines because they are jammed. Rick.

0:30:560:31:00

-'Hello, there.'

-What's on your mind?

0:31:000:31:02

'Well, I think they're making too much of this.

0:31:020:31:05

'There's been a lot of educated people come from that residential school.

0:31:050:31:08

'I think you do too much on one side and don't tell the whole story.'

0:31:080:31:12

So, just so I'm clear, are you...

0:31:120:31:15

in favour of the residential schools?

0:31:150:31:17

Do you feel they were necessary?

0:31:170:31:19

'I think so, yeah, at the time.

0:31:190:31:21

'Even right now there are supposed to be seven out of ten Indian kids

0:31:210:31:25

'that are in government aid -

0:31:250:31:27

'they still can't seem to look after their kids.'

0:31:270:31:29

So, essentially, they ripped these kids from their families...

0:31:290:31:32

-'I know, yeah.'

-They tried to eradicate all of the culture,

0:31:320:31:36

all of the traditions, sort of, take the Indian out of them, if you like.

0:31:360:31:39

'Well, if it wasn't for them, they wouldn't be living today, you know.'

0:31:390:31:42

Dennis, you're up next. What's on your mind?

0:31:420:31:44

'Well, I think when people disappear,

0:31:440:31:47

'I guess we don't really investigate enough to find out what has happened.

0:31:470:31:51

'And then that just opens more opportunity for bad people

0:31:510:31:54

'because they realise, "Hey, nothing's happening, let's go after more." '

0:31:540:31:58

Well, this is exactly it.

0:31:580:31:59

And it's entirely possible that there is still a serial killer at loose,

0:31:590:32:04

like, around this area. That is just so, so frightening,

0:32:040:32:07

-and that's hard to comprehend in and accept.

-'Exactly.'

0:32:070:32:10

I had no doubt that this audience would have a lot to say about this.

0:32:100:32:14

-Stacey Dooley, it's been a pleasure.

-Likewise. Thank you so, so much.

0:32:140:32:17

-Thanks for spending some time with us.

-Thank you.

0:32:170:32:20

I'm encouraged some of the callers recognised

0:32:200:32:23

what indigenous people are up against.

0:32:230:32:26

But there's no doubt the judgment against their community exists,

0:32:260:32:30

and not just on the end of the phone.

0:32:300:32:32

'A cabbie on one of my journeys has some interesting views.'

0:32:380:32:43

What do you make of the indigenous community?

0:32:430:32:45

An awful lot of them, they stand there with their hand out.

0:32:450:32:49

And the more you give them, the more they want.

0:32:490:32:52

-They have no self-worth.

-Right.

0:32:520:32:55

If you have to get out of bed every morning and go to a job,

0:32:550:32:59

it gives you a sense of purpose.

0:32:590:33:02

The only purpose they have is

0:33:020:33:03

where they can get their next hit or their next bottle.

0:33:030:33:07

Yeah. Why do you think some of them might have these issues

0:33:070:33:12

in terms of alcoholism, drug addiction?

0:33:120:33:15

Because they have nothing else to do.

0:33:150:33:17

Do you think some of them might be trying to self-medicate

0:33:170:33:21

because of what they've been through?

0:33:210:33:23

I mean, these residential schools, the sexual abuse,

0:33:230:33:26

the torture, the starvation, do you think that plays a part?

0:33:260:33:29

Do you not think we've all been through our own...?

0:33:290:33:32

-We've all got our own cross to bear.

-Yeah.

0:33:320:33:35

But don't expect your whole life to be a victim.

0:33:350:33:38

Any other country that was taken over by a people that came in,

0:33:380:33:42

the people that were living there had to conform or else.

0:33:420:33:46

Here, we give them everything.

0:33:460:33:48

What about the idea that they were actually here first?

0:33:500:33:54

Does it matter?

0:33:540:33:56

I just think it's opinions like yours...

0:33:560:34:00

..that encourage racism.

0:34:030:34:06

It's not racism.

0:34:060:34:07

I don't care if you're purple with pink polka-dots.

0:34:070:34:10

Work and earn your living.

0:34:100:34:12

But that's what some of them want,

0:34:120:34:14

but they're not being given that opportunity.

0:34:140:34:17

I see them all the time.

0:34:180:34:20

They get in my cab, and you ask for money upfront,

0:34:200:34:22

and I ask for money up front from just about everybody.

0:34:220:34:25

But, "you're just asking me because I'm native."

0:34:250:34:29

So you're saying that you always ask for money upfront?

0:34:290:34:32

From everybody, just about.

0:34:340:34:36

You didn't ask us for money upfront.

0:34:360:34:39

I treat everybody the same that gets in my cab.

0:34:390:34:41

It doesn't sound like that, to me.

0:34:410:34:44

It doesn't sound like that.

0:34:450:34:47

Well, that's the way it is.

0:34:490:34:52

Of course, I can't stand here

0:34:520:34:53

and speak on behalf of the indigenous people,

0:34:530:34:55

you know, and pretend that everybody's perfect

0:34:550:34:58

because that's not the case.

0:34:580:35:00

But having that conversation with Donna, what she does,

0:35:010:35:05

is she highlights some of the opinions that obviously exist

0:35:050:35:08

here in Canada.

0:35:080:35:10

-THEY SHOUT:

-Inquiry! Inquiry! Inquiry!

0:35:100:35:15

Since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came to power in 2015,

0:35:170:35:21

his new government have launched an official 50 million inquiry

0:35:210:35:26

into finding answers for the victim's families.

0:35:260:35:29

Those touched by this national tragedy have waited long enough.

0:35:290:35:34

Part of this process is to examine the role of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

0:35:340:35:39

Some of the worst racists carry a gun, and they carry a badge.

0:35:390:35:46

Authorised by you, Commissioner Paulson.

0:35:460:35:49

I hear what you're saying.

0:35:490:35:51

I understand that there are racists in my police force.

0:35:510:35:55

I don't want them to be in my police force.

0:35:550:35:57

'The RCMP will not talk about specifics of any case.

0:36:010:36:05

'However, they have agreed for me to meet a senior officer

0:36:050:36:07

'from their Alberta provincial headquarters.'

0:36:070:36:11

-How are you?

-I'm just fine, thank you.

0:36:110:36:13

-I'm Stacey. How do you do?

-Hi. Superintendent Gary Steinke.

0:36:130:36:16

Lovely to meet you. And thank you so much for your time,

0:36:160:36:18

I really appreciate it.

0:36:180:36:19

I know Commissioner Paulson came out last year

0:36:190:36:23

and accepted that there were racists within the organisation.

0:36:230:36:28

Do you believe that to also be true?

0:36:280:36:31

Are there individuals in the RCMP, as Commissioner Paulson said,

0:36:310:36:33

are there individuals that may be called racist?

0:36:330:36:36

There probably are, like there are in every other walk of life.

0:36:360:36:39

I haven't witnessed any.

0:36:390:36:42

I spoke to two separate people who weren't related to the families in any way,

0:36:420:36:47

and they said, their trail of thought was

0:36:470:36:49

that the police, the RCMP,

0:36:490:36:52

broadly speaking, were at best, incompetent,

0:36:520:36:56

at worst, blatantly racist.

0:36:560:36:58

What would you say to that?

0:36:580:37:00

We're not incompetent. We do want to solve these cases,

0:37:000:37:03

regardless of gender or race.

0:37:030:37:05

And when we go through the investigations,

0:37:050:37:07

by far the majority of murdered aboriginal women are solved.

0:37:070:37:11

Between aboriginal women and aboriginal men,

0:37:110:37:14

or Caucasian women or Caucasian men,

0:37:140:37:18

the stats in solve rates are almost identical.

0:37:180:37:20

I think there's a higher percentage of indigenous women, unfortunately,

0:37:200:37:24

that are vulnerable.

0:37:240:37:25

I mean, that's good news for the victims' families

0:37:250:37:28

who have the answers, but those that don't,

0:37:280:37:30

they truly believe, in their heart of hearts,

0:37:300:37:33

that if their daughter had have been white, Caucasian, blue-eyed,

0:37:330:37:36

blonde hair, that there would be more of a sense of urgency.

0:37:360:37:40

The 72 hours after the individual's gone missing, that time is crucial,

0:37:400:37:45

and I think that's why Amber Tuccaro's mother feels so let down

0:37:450:37:49

because there was no sense of urgency.

0:37:490:37:52

That did not happen in Amber's case.

0:37:520:37:54

I think mistakes were made in that particular case, and she knows that,

0:37:540:37:58

and we've apologised for that.

0:37:580:37:59

Because they feel, I'll be honest with you,

0:37:590:38:01

they feel totally let down. They have no faith in you whatsoever.

0:38:010:38:04

As of today, and in years past, the RCMP have learned lessons,

0:38:040:38:08

as every police organisation has.

0:38:080:38:10

So why is it that so many indigenous women still have such little faith

0:38:100:38:16

and so little trust in their police officers?

0:38:160:38:19

Some of these cases are very, very difficult to solve.

0:38:190:38:22

All I can say is that every single case,

0:38:220:38:24

and the one you've mentioned here, is still under investigation.

0:38:240:38:28

Right, so even if the individuals went missing years and years ago,

0:38:280:38:32

you're telling me here today

0:38:320:38:33

there are still people actively working,

0:38:330:38:35

-trying to solve their cases?

-Absolutely are.

0:38:350:38:38

The police get the last part of it.

0:38:380:38:40

We get the investigation and we unfortunately have to look at

0:38:400:38:43

the bodies and try and solve what happened.

0:38:430:38:45

But the reasons why these things happen are well beyond what we can control.

0:38:450:38:50

I mean, we could go down the list of social causes

0:38:500:38:53

and educational causes and historic causes and could go on and on.

0:38:530:38:58

Do I believe Gary when he says that he is passionate

0:38:590:39:02

and he's determined to seek justice,

0:39:020:39:05

to find out what happened to these indigenous women that went missing

0:39:050:39:09

and are often murdered? Yeah.

0:39:090:39:11

He explained very clearly, actually,

0:39:110:39:13

that he believes the very reason many indigenous women are going missing

0:39:130:39:18

and being murdered is because statistically...

0:39:180:39:22

they are more vulnerable, and you know,

0:39:220:39:24

that sort of backs up what Kari suggests.

0:39:240:39:27

She said that she believes 90% of the girls on the streets are indigenous.

0:39:270:39:31

And with all that said,

0:39:310:39:33

that doesn't mean we should fall into victim blaming

0:39:330:39:36

or an acceptance that this is going to continue to happen.

0:39:360:39:40

You know, that needs to stop.

0:39:400:39:42

The mishandlings, the lack of justice,

0:39:420:39:44

all of that needs to change.

0:39:440:39:47

Whilst police attitudes may be changing,

0:39:470:39:50

the problems for indigenous girls aren't.

0:39:500:39:53

Young women are still going missing,

0:39:570:39:59

yet they continue to come to the city to work the streets.

0:39:590:40:03

The thought of giving someone a blow job down here

0:40:030:40:06

is so depressing.

0:40:060:40:08

'We stopped to chat to Jen,

0:40:130:40:15

'a mixed race indigenous woman who Kari regularly helps out.

0:40:150:40:19

'And I get a sense of just how threatened these girls feel.'

0:40:190:40:23

Jen, how safe do you feel out here?

0:40:240:40:26

A lot of us out here, we're all packing.

0:40:290:40:31

We all have knives.

0:40:310:40:33

-Oh, I see.

-It's little, but it works.

0:40:350:40:37

-It does?

-Oh, yeah.

0:40:370:40:39

The other one that I had,

0:40:390:40:40

that I had to get rid of because it was it was full of blood.

0:40:400:40:43

Can you tell me a bit about that?

0:40:430:40:44

He decided he wanted to start beating the shit out of me

0:40:440:40:47

and he started going stupid on my face.

0:40:470:40:49

I've got a crack in my cheekbone and a crack in my jaw from it.

0:40:490:40:53

And I just started fricking swinging the knife, and, yeah.

0:40:530:40:57

He went and grabbed the blade

0:40:570:40:59

-and slit his hand right down the blade.

-Oof!

0:40:590:41:02

We've still got to live with all that in our mind,

0:41:020:41:04

knowing our people are being murdered.

0:41:040:41:06

-And do you look after each other?

-Yes.

0:41:060:41:09

There's long nights.

0:41:090:41:10

It's not an easy life to live.

0:41:120:41:14

Look, your dinner's here.

0:41:140:41:17

-This is her date.

-Oh, the lad in the car?

-Yeah.

0:41:170:41:20

All righty, people, but I've got to get out of here.

0:41:200:41:23

-All right, Jen. Thanks, Jen.

-Stay safe.

0:41:230:41:27

So I need to get that plate in case anything happens to her.

0:41:310:41:34

Kari, when you can,

0:41:340:41:35

you will try and take a note of all of the registration plates?

0:41:350:41:38

Yes.

0:41:380:41:39

I'll take note of the description of the vehicle, the plates,

0:41:390:41:43

the driver because in case they do go missing or are found murdered,

0:41:430:41:48

this is the last vehicle that we've seen them in.

0:41:480:41:51

-That sort of gives a starting point.

-That's so useful.

0:41:510:41:55

At almost every turn there is a memory of a woman who Kari has lost.

0:42:050:42:10

Down this alley, here,

0:42:100:42:13

is where one of my girls was found murdered.

0:42:130:42:16

-When was this?

-Just last year.

0:42:160:42:18

She was fucking beat so brutally,

0:42:180:42:20

and they threw her out her own apartment window

0:42:200:42:23

while she was still alive.

0:42:230:42:24

-Are they in prison now?

-Yes.

0:42:240:42:26

Did they get life?

0:42:260:42:28

Oh, fuck, no! Nobody gets life here.

0:42:280:42:31

I know one is being charged with manslaughter, I think he got five.

0:42:310:42:35

-Five?

-Yeah. They get a slap on the hand, "Don't do it again,"

0:42:350:42:38

kind of fucking shit.

0:42:380:42:40

That's a joke.

0:42:400:42:41

So this is the window where she was tossed out of.

0:42:410:42:44

On the third floor.

0:42:440:42:46

-So this was her flat?

-Yeah.

0:42:460:42:49

'With such stark odds,

0:42:500:42:52

'the girls are lucky to have someone like Kari looking out for them.'

0:42:520:42:56

But this issue is much greater than just protecting the women

0:42:590:43:03

who are vulnerable today.

0:43:030:43:04

Many of the indigenous people I've spoken to can't wait for change

0:43:050:43:10

and believe one answer lies in making their communities stronger from within.

0:43:100:43:14

'But what hope is there for the future?

0:43:160:43:18

'This is Jacob, Amber Tuccaro's son,

0:43:200:43:24

'who is now seven years old.'

0:43:240:43:26

Jacob, look at this lake.

0:43:280:43:30

It's amazing.

0:43:300:43:34

I see ice blocks.

0:43:350:43:37

Yeah, I can see ice blocks too.

0:43:370:43:39

What's this lake called?

0:43:390:43:41

-Athabasca.

-Athabasca?

0:43:410:43:43

-Am I saying it right?

-Uh-huh.

0:43:430:43:45

And how was school today?

0:43:450:43:47

-Good.

-Yeah, what did you do?

0:43:470:43:49

I did drawing, right?

0:43:490:43:52

-I did drawing the whole day.

-That sounds fun.

0:43:520:43:55

And I just wondered if you would mind telling me

0:43:550:43:58

a little bit about your mummy.

0:43:580:44:00

I only know one thing, she's in heaven.

0:44:000:44:03

I remembered her when I was a baby.

0:44:040:44:06

Do you go and visit her sometimes?

0:44:080:44:11

Sometimes at the graveyard.

0:44:130:44:15

Yeah.

0:44:150:44:16

Sometimes I look for bees.

0:44:160:44:18

In the graveyard?

0:44:180:44:20

Yeah, there's lots of bees there because there's flowers all over.

0:44:200:44:24

Amber Tuccaro's reserve, like many across Canada, is trying to heal.

0:44:240:44:29

THEY SPEAK OWN LANGUAGE

0:44:290:44:36

What are your hopes for Jacob?

0:44:360:44:40

My hopes for Jacob is, with proper support and therapy,

0:44:400:44:44

and any kind of help that we can get for him,

0:44:440:44:47

he'll grow to be a healthy young man without having the struggles of

0:44:470:44:50

having to deal with any issues with his mother.

0:44:500:44:53

And, April, what are your thoughts in terms of, you know,

0:44:560:45:00

Jacob's generation?

0:45:000:45:02

Our children deserve just as much of a bright future as anyone else's.

0:45:020:45:06

Their safety is so important,

0:45:060:45:09

especially for those young people that leave their communities

0:45:090:45:13

and come into the bigger cities.

0:45:130:45:15

They need to have those supports in place

0:45:150:45:17

and not have too deal with all the, you know, negative stereotypes.

0:45:170:45:21

Obviously, it's devastating that Jacob's lost his mum,

0:45:350:45:38

you know, he's had her taken from him.

0:45:380:45:40

And I think his case highlights perfectly what life is like

0:45:420:45:46

for hundreds, if not thousands of kids, right across Canada.

0:45:460:45:50

And that is it. That should be enough for people to demand change.

0:45:500:45:55

You know, to demand this shift in attitude towards indigenous people,

0:45:550:45:59

indigenous women.

0:45:590:46:01

It's the only way that they're going to move forward.

0:46:010:46:03

Canada has a dark secret - the disappearance and murder over decades of over a thousand indigenous women and girls. Stacey travels to British Columbia and Alberta to find out more about what some believe is a national scandal.

She begins on a remote road dubbed the Highway of Tears, where dozens of woman have vanished or been murdered since 1980 whilst trying to hitchhike. As a national enquiry is launched, it has emerged that there are cases across the country - but why do so many remain unsolved?

Stacey meets the family of Amber Tuccaro, who was 20 when she was abducted and murdered in 2010, who feel there are still so many unanswered questions about Amber as well as four other victims found in a six-mile radius.

The indigenous Canadian community has criticised the police, accusing them of failing to investigate indigenous cases properly. In the words of one elder, 'some of the biggest racists carry a gun and they carry a badge.'

Stacey meets the police to ask what they are doing to address this issue and bring closure to the families of the missing and murdered.