Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Underbelly News
Downtown Eastside


After hearing this week of the horrendous targeting of children at Grandview School by pimps and other low-life's in society, memories of my own childhood trauma after so many years came flooding back. All I recall thinking is why is this still happening? Why can't society get it right and protect our young? Why are children being procured, com-modified and exploited? Why are the abuses of our young and vulnerable allowed to happen? Why can't those who we put our faith in, our leaders, prevent this victimization from happening?

If you listen to City of Vancouver Councillor Ellen Woodsworth who called the situation, "horrifying", one wonders if this is all she has to say? Ms Woodsworth lives a mere 10 blocks away from a number of elementary schools, including Grandview School, where children are being targeted and procured. As a city councillor one has to question whether she has been paying any attention to abuses happening on her own doorstep. Since her election nearly three years ago what plan has her governing party initiated regarding the plight of our inner city children? This type of abuse and victimization in case, Ms Woodsworth hasn't yet realized, has been going on in our city for some time. It is Vancouver's dark and dirty secret. Child pornography, child abuse and stalking of our young aboriginal population continues unabated. Nobody seems willing to talk about this violence either.

In fact, though, a brave women, Ms Kelly MacDonald, a native leader and human rights lawyer and defender, while serving for two years on the police board, on a number of occasions attempted to bring these issues forward. She was stymied in her attempts and literally blown off by the Police Chief and Mayor of Vncouver. After being subjected far too many times to abusive behavior at the hands of the Chief and Mayor, Ms MacDonald took the high road and resigned. How's that folks for leadership?
Co-incidentially, Ms MacDonald is nw the deputy child and youth officer for the government of BC.

Sexual Molestation of children living in poverty occurs far too often in our very sick and troubled City. Continuously, as a prostitution activist, I hear the personal stories of women trying to survive as best they can on our street corners. Only to often, these women as children and youth were subjected to violence and abuse. And all to often society fails these vulnerable women by allowing their abuses either to be hidden or by neglect. The Farm situation in Port Coquitlam brought home to many, how deeply troubled our city and society really is.

As society evolves, we hear first hand accounts of how the Victims in many cases have now become the Victimizers. As the Victimizers plot their carnage, they have figured out devious methods of hiding their evil and and torturous ways.

Luckily for the children of Grandview, one daring and committed principal at their school chose to once again speak out. It probably wasn't the first time she raised alarm bells regarding the worsening situation at her school. Voices have been calling out for many years of the need for restorative justice programs. These calls usually fall on deaf ears.

Taking into consideration that our Victimizers are seriously damaged and pose extreme risk to society, I'm not certain though whether a jail sentence would be of any useful benefit. Acting after the harm has already been committed doesn't in the short term or long term address injustice.

What we need to do in order to protect our children and youth is to take bold proactive measures. For starters we can call on our Mayor to immediately commence a Mayor's Safety Summit regarding our City's underbelly. We need to clamour for a public airing of our city's problems and leaders need to listen. They must stop making poor decisions. We also need to examine whether our leaders have been willfully neglectful. We need to hear from those who have been there and have survived. We must share our stories of how society can work toward justice and goodness.

While, Mayor Campbell, says he was shocked to hear of the situation at Grandview School and hence he will bring it up with the police chief, questioning how sincere he is must be posed. Remember folks this was the man who was Chief Coroner for many many years. He has inside knowledge that many others in our society wouldn't have.

Yet since assuming the Mayor's Chair, Mr Larry Campbell appears less inclined to tackle public order and safety issues. Instead, he has since being elected in 2002, been more keen on traveling the world or involving himself with mega projects like the Olympics or RAV line. Of course building up support in the development, casino and bar industries for his re-election bid takes up his remaining time.

One thing for certain in all of this is this. While the Mayor and Police Chief will continue spending the taxpayer's money, public safety and disorder will not any time soon if they continue their errant ways, see any decline.

For our children's safety and the greater public good, please dear citizens reflect on what is happening in our city. Speak with your children. Make sure they understand that bad people lurk around them and quite possibly live near them. Ask them to report any unusual incidences. Commit a few hours of your busy time to make our parks, schools and playgrounds safe. Go after the bad guys, including if need be,our supposed leaders. Most of all, please just Speak Out. Our future depends on it.

Jamie Lee Hamilton


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