City to finish women's memorial after non-profit folds
Vancouver city staff will install remaining plaques as part of ongoing road and sidewalk work
The City of Vancouver has announced it will be completing a currently stalled effort to memorialize murdered and missing women in B.C., after the project organizer dissolved his non-profit foundation following a CBC News investigation into his ongoing legal troubles.
Couns. Kerry Jang says that he was "simply appalled" to learn that Sean Kirkham, the man behind the Living Memorial Stones project, is a convicted criminal and currently faces 20 charges for fraud and theft in Quebec and B.C.
Kirkham promised to lay 62 stone plaques in the last known location of murdered or missing women, using funds from a non-profit that he started called the 'Canadian Foundation for Creative Development and Innovation.'
To date, however, only four of the plaques have actually been laid, and Kirkham has failed to pay many of the other people involved in the project for their work.
In a letter to the families of the women sent Wednesday after he learned of the CBC News investigation into his activities, Kirkham said that he is dissolving his foundation due to "current events" in his life, leaving the fate of the project unresolved.
On Friday, however, the city of Vancouver stepped forward and said it will be completing the project without Kirkham's involvement.
"Our staff are looking at just taking over the project and making sure all of those memorial stones are installed," Jang says.
"If we really want to get the job done, and get it done properly and right away, as we had wanted done in the first place, the city's got to do it. We can't rely on [Kirkham] anymore."
Taryn Scollard, director of streets with the City of Vancouver, says that the city is committed to finishing the project, but also to ensuring that taxpayers don't foot the bill by incorporating the plaques into ongoing street and sidewalk work.
"We're trying to find locations that will reduce that cost, but still keep true to the spirit of the program," she told CBC News.
The city is also hoping to hear from the families of the victims for input on how the project should continue.
Kirkham did not return calls from CBC News on Friday, but issued a written statement to the families of the missing and murdered women, which can be read below.
With files from the CBC's Eric Rankin