June 20, 2005
Innocence Lost
All the media frenzy of the evil Holmolka being released from prison has had me thinking about the changes in the criminal landscape of Canada in my lifetime.

Before I go further, I just want to point out that I see Holmolka as a weak and pathetic creature. She would kill her own sister in order to please her boyfriend/husband? Not to mention all the other things she did in her crime spree with Bernardo… Truly a sad, small human being. Having said that though, I don’t think she should be pitied and forgiven. And if she was that weak before, there’s not much likelihood that she grew a spine in prison.

Besides, even mentioning her name aggravates me. She is given power each and every time someone speaks or writes of her, and she does not deserve that.

When I was 10, the Lower Mainland of Vancouver was rocked by a serial killer. Clifford Robert Olson. The name still fills me with fear and dread, and I’m transported to that time when my childhood was transformed from one of a free-spirited carefree world, to locking our doors at night and my mother watching my every move.

For those that don’t know who he is (and I refused to google him to find links), he murdered well over a dozen young children in my neck of the woods. One girl went to a neighbouring school, and was very active in community sports. Anyone who grew up in my age group knows who she was and she is still missed. A couple of the bodies were found close to where I went to school. One of the girls was picked up from the store across from my brother’s house.

I remember, even at that tender age, the pleas of the parents for the safe return of their children. The posters were in every store. Those smiling school pictures of these children that you knew at some level would never see their parents again. Children that were the same age as me. Children that even looked like me.

When he was finally arrested, his name became etched in my soul. cliffordrobertolson. It was one name. Not three. I still don’t think of him in any other way. Turned out he lived on the same street as my oldest brother. The thought that he likely looked down the street and saw my 4 year old nephew playing in his yard sickened me. I wondered if he looked at Ben and if he disregarded him only because he lived too close.

There’s a whole story involving how the police handled his investigation, which I won’t go into here. It’s well documented and controversial. My brother was peripherally involved in the case, and he would get angry whenever we tried to discuss it. He said he couldn’t even think of giving the ‘waste of skin’ the worthiness of a conversation. It was dark times, not just for the Province of BC, but for our family too.

Life was changed completely for me, and those my age. I knew that evil could be anywhere and it coloured my every move. At 10 years old, I lost my innocence. Not only did my mother not want me out of her sight, I didn’t really want to be out of her sight either.

Now again, 25 years later, we have another serial killer with Robert Pickton. He looks poised to make Olson’s exploits look like child’s play. But he didn’t chose little children for victims…he looked to the downtrodden. He picked a part of society that few people would take notice of, except for the victim’s own families.

Thinking about him makes those childhood feelings come back up to the surface. The fear and distrust of everyone. Knowing that even the most normal looking person can be deeply dangerous.

Oddly, I had this conversation with my 22 year old niece. Her response was ‘Who was that guy? I’ve heard the name but I don’t really know.’ It floored me. Someone who changed my entire outlook on the world, and she only knows he’s in jail but not really sure why.

She wasn’t even born when Olson was ‘active’ and while her own father was involved in the case, he didn’t bring his work home and would never speak of him. So she has grown up without the same mark on her psyche that I did. In some ways, I commend my brother for keeping her world so free of evil, but in others, it scares me that she doesn’t have the same knowledge and fearfulness.

I found it amazing though that she and I can have such differing views on the world. We grew up 12 years apart, yet in some ways it’s a lifetime.

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer, who looks forward to a better Canada. I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.

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