Ernie Crey, a Sto:lo activist and an early and vocal advocate for an inquiry into B.C.’s missing women, praised the appointment of Steven Point to “champion” implementation of recommendations made Monday by inquiry commissioner Wally Oppal.
“I know Steven Point fairly well and he has the right experience and the right credentials,” Crey said Wednesday.
“He’s a deeply spiritual guy in every sense of the word,” Crey said, as well as a respected Sto:lo leader, a former provincial court judge and former Lieutenant Governor of B.C.
Crey said he will be urging other families of missing women to work with Point.
But Crey was critical of the B.C. government’s initial response to the other 62 recommendations made in “Forsaken: The Report of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry” that was “unsparing” of the RCMP and police departments involved, he said.
The government is claiming it can’t act on many of the recommendations that carry a price tag.
“They need to slow down and quit pleading poverty,” Crey said. “I know the changes that are required will take some real effort, but you have to make a start.”
“The fortunes of the provincial coffers can change from year to year — and change quickly,” he said.
Crey said he anticipates Point will come up with a “well thought-out plan — a schedule, if you will — of which recommendations to start working on immediately and which are longer term” after talking to the families, police agencies and provincial politicians.
Although Oppal did not name individual police officers in his report, Crey said he intends to read all four volumes of the 1,448-page report “to look for every sliver of light in the report that I can drive a wedge into and hold them to account.”
Crey’s sister Dawn was one of the women whose DNA was found on Robert Pickton’s farm, yet Crown counsel did not include her and many others in their court case, another aspect of the commission’s inquiry.
Pickton was found guilty in 2007 of murdering six women, but he once claimed to police that he had killed 49 women. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Attorney General Shirley Bond named Point to “champion” implementation of the inquiry’s recommendations.
“I can think of no other person better suited to support this work than Steven Point,” she said. “I’m grateful he has agreed to be a champion of this work as we take action on addressing the systemic challenges identified in this report.”
Point said in a statement that he looks forward to working with all parties to seek “positive” solutions.
“I have always been guided by my own cultural values and the wisdom of the elders,” he said. “I will bring that to my position as chair of the advisory committee on the safety and security of vulnerable women.”
“It is my sincere hope that this committee will serve as a vehicle for reconciliation and healing for our province,” he said. “I am positive that we can work together through these recommendations and make a difference consistent with the spirit and intent of commissioner Oppal’s report.”