The Vancouver park board is moving ahead with a proposal to build a permanent monument in a Downtown Eastside park for the women murdered by convicted serial killer Robert Pickton.
The board first approved the creation of a memorial carved cedar pole back in 1997, but Pickton’s trial and the inquiry that followed put those plans on hold.
Now, people close to the victims believe it's time to build that permanent monument.
Before a park board meeting on Monday night, members of the Klahoose First Nation who donated a red cedar tree for the pole held a prayer vigil where they drummed and sang to honour and remember the women.
Speakers urged park board to move forward with plans for the memorial totem pole.
"Now that the legal course is done and they've repatriated most of their beloved ones for their funeral services, now we can put them together for a community memorial," said monument organizer Kelly White.
Mona Woodward, executive director of the Aboriginal Front Door Society, agreed.
"The healing starts now and we need to be supportive of all the initiatives that will increase healing and support for all the community," she said.
The proposal must first go through the process of public consultation before it receives final approval by the board.
On Monday, board commissioner Niki Sharma proposed the pole be raised in Crab Park.
"It's part of a process of the community, honouring the families of the missing women and the women that were missing, and the park board showed their full support for it," she said.
Pickton, a former pig farmer, was convicted of six murders in 2007. Investigators have said the remains or DNA of 33 women were found on his family's farm in Port Coquitlam. Pickton had bragged to police that he had killed 49.
The pole is expected to be raised next spring.