The developments announced Tuesday in the Highway of Tears case shows how large and difficult this investigation is, as well as the scope of the pain and suffering these deaths have caused across Northern B.C.
The investigation includes cases from five different decades, rooms full of data, thousands of pages of interviews and dozens of investigators, some long since retired and departed.
This is no fool's errand.
Finding a culprit for a murder committed nearly 40 years ago, even if that culprit died in prison in another country six years ago, is important. Justice for murder never gets old and even if the culprit can no longer be brought to justice, the principle is not lost.
Bringing a resolution to one of the Highway of Tears cases is one case fewer that needs to be solved. It also sends the message to the killers among us that time isn't a hiding place. The dedication and persistence of law enforcement investigators to crack murder cases, no matter how cold, should bring worry and fear to murderers and comfort to the rest of us.
It should bring particular comfort to the friends and families of the murder victims. Tuesday's announcement, and the public interest in the news, not just in Northern B.C. but across the province, the nation and beyond our borders, is a loud and clear sign that these unsolved murders still matter and they have not been forgotten. Law enforcement and the public still care and, like the friends and family of the victims, still crave for someone to be held accountable.
It's important to stress that this doesn't bring "closure" to those who mourn the victims. Closure is a ridiculous term used by those who have not experienced such sudden and tragic loss.
The police identifying the murderer of a loved one and successfully sending that person to jail doesn't bring back the missing loved one.
There is no closure.
There is only the space where the loved one once was.
But the feeling that the community still cares and their loved ones live on in all of our memories can only soothe that private and personal pain.
This is important because, like many of Robert Pickton's victims, the community didn't care for a long time. Due to race, status and vulnerability, the disappearance and deaths were easy to ignore until the body count started to climb.
If there is one thing good that has come out of the Highway of Tears investigation, it is the new attention to vulnerable women putting themselves at risk by walking alone on the streets and the highways. Those broader issues still need to be addressed to help keep those women safe.
Finally, Tuesday's announcement is a significant step because it brings the Highway of Tears back into the public spotlight, hopefully leading to more tips from someone whose memory of an important event will click and lead to another important break and the resolution of more of these unsolved cases.
-- Managing editor Neil Godbout