Monday, 22 May 2017

Ashley Simpson: Remember

On Saturday, Ashley Simpson's spirit was felt across the country as her family, friends and supporters participated in walks in tribute to the missing and murdered women of Canada.

In B.C., her father, John Simpson, joined the families of Caitlin Potts and Deanna Wertz who also disappeared last year from Enderby and Salmon Arm. The walk, organized by Jody Leon, is meant to remember the murdered and missing indigenous women who have been the target of so much violence and neglect.

Across the country, in St. Catharines, Ontario, there was a walk in Ashley's memory.

Students and staff from Brock University joined in the walk. Ashley's cousin, Sarah McGean, Administrative Coordinator and Academic Advisor at Brock's Tecumseh Centre for Aboriginal Research and Education walked in her honor.

Ashley's aunt, Julie Major also organized a walk in Marathon, Ontario.

The walks were a success. There was only one low point. That time city staff in Enderby took down a poster right in front of a family member. Shame!

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Ashley Simpson: Mayor Snowflake

The folks running the town of Enderby must have breathed a sigh of relief after I took down part of my blog yesterday, in which I reported that the town was taking down posters promoting a local walk for missing and murdered women.

Some of the organizers of the walk had accused the local mayor, and town, of taking down the posters because they were afraid that they were bad for tourism -- that they were a buzzkill. One organizer even said she was hung up on by the mayor.

I suggested the story reminded me of the plot of Jaws.

Don't tell anybody there's a shark on the loose. And we all know what happened.

I took down my post because I received a note from the town's Chief Admin Officer, who said he took a drive around town and noted that all the posters were still up including those which had been placed on city infrastructure spots including kiosks, light standards and more.

"They have not been removed since they were posted yesterday," he noted.

He also defended the mayor who had been rumored to be behind the ripping down of posters on city property, and he explained that only one poster was removed in a window at city hall, and that poster had been taken down by a city staffer.

"This window needs to be kept clear, so use of this particular space is restricted."

As a blogger, it's pretty difficult to report what is going on 3,000 miles away. I want to be fair, so I decided to get more information. I asked those who attended the walk.

Boy, did I get an earful from people who were there.

As it turns out, the story is not about posters at all.

The story is about a mayor who said he was "too busy" to show up, and lend his support for the walk to support the families of three women who went missing last year from the same areas.

The photos of Ashley Simpson, Deanna Wertz and Caitlin Potts are posted above. All of these women disappeared last year from Enderby and nearby Salmon Arm.

I know it's the long weekend and all. But part of the job of the mayor is to show up at things like this. Important things.

Two, it doesn't look good that he sent his Chief Admin Offer after me to set the record straight.

What the mayor did -- I forget his name and so should you -- was sloppy and insensitive.

This doesn't make him a bad person. But it does make him a lousy politician.

He might be starting to care because people are really pissed.

"Maybe the families should have offered to pay for his time, as he obviously has more pressing things going on," wrote Cathy McLeod, after I posted my blog.

Meagan Louis expressed her disbelief in the town's side of things.

"I wish I had recorded the mayor when he called (organizer) Jody Leon!. His words were not so nice then -- he was very angry, accusatory. He said he was too busy to attend our walk. The Mayor of Armstrong attended the walk along with chiefs and dignitaries from surrounding communities.

"Way to cover his ass up!"

Nichole Fleming believes the mayor's indifference to the walk is just one more dagger in the collective heart of the families of the missing. "The important fact is Enderby is not stepping up to the plate. These women have been swept under a rug and just forgotten. It's absolutely disgusting."

Melisa Lynn Roudebush suggested the organizers change the posters, just to get the mayor's attention.

"Stay safe," they should read. "Stay off the back roads, and for the love of God, don't travel anywhere alone. Welcome to Salmon Arm!"

You see, Mr. Mayor, or should I call you Mayor Snowflake? It's not about ripped posters, it's about your feckless disregard for your constituents. It's about your clear inability to read the climate of your town. People are afraid. Women feel devalued. Families feel their women are forgotten.

I also received this chilling comment from a woman with the moniker Gayle Andrea Astrologer.

"I lived in that town for sixteen years. Lotta strange things go on in the backwoods. Thrives on secrecy. And women are held in low regard for the most part. Especially, women who 'run off''."

The real point is this.

On a day when strangers, family and friends all take the time to lace up to raise awareness about a growing epidemic in crimes against women, we shouldn't be talking about bad politicians. They can, and should, be thrown out of office.

Instead, we should be saluting those politicians who do show up, like the mayor of Salmon Arm who walked the whole route in solidarity.

As Elaine noted: "She participated in the blessings and prayers for those that are missing, and she was touched by the tragedy of it all. That is what the mayor of a community should do, without question."

So here's to Nancy Cooper for giving a hoot.

Thanks, Nancy Cooper, for lending your support.

Maybe you should have a talk with that mayor over in Enderby.

You could give Mayor Snowflake a few pointers.

For the complete story, please visit Global News.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Ashley Simpson: Walk for the Missing

While many Canadians will be preoccupied with settling into their cottages, or campsites, on this long weekend, others will be lacing up their running shoes to walk in the memory of their loves ones -- women who have gone missing and are presumed murdered.

Members of my immediate family will be participating in walks from coast to coast. Some will be walking in St. Catharines/Niagara to remember my cousin Ashley Simpson who disappeared a year ago from her home in Salmon Arm. She is one of three women missing from the B.C. Interior towns of Salmon Arm and Enderby. Deanna Wertz and Caitlin Potts are also missing.

Her father, John Simpson, will join in the B.C. walk. The organizers of walk have put the emphasis on aboriginal women because the majority of the missing come from the First Nations communities. But they have also taken John into their fold. Grief has no ethnicity, after all.

The walk will cap off a frustrating time for John who dropped everything and set off to find his daughter.

He's spent the last two weeks scouring the creeks and bushes near Yankee Flats Road where both Ashley and Deanna were last seen. Sadly, John will leave the area after the walk, having failed in his quest to bring Ashley home.

The weather has been challenging, with flooding, and record rain fall so John has only had a few days to look for her. Luckily, the community has pitched in, offering help with food, lodging and money to keep John going. He's also been aided by drones which have enabled him to search in the most treacherous areas, places where humans have been unable to go -- until now.

Despite the strong support, John has also encountered unexpected road blocks. The federal government cut off the employment insurance which has kept John going since Ashley's disappearance. There is a provision in the legislation which allows short term cash for family members of the murdered and missing. Unfortunately, John had his EI disallowed because he left the province of Ontario to search for Ashley because he wouldn't be able to look for work during this time.

What a stupid, moronic, bean counting, box checking thing to do to a father who is going mad, sitting at home, unable to look for his daughter. So much for Canada's social safety net.

What a joke.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Ashley Simpson and her Mother Bear

When Ashley Simpson went missing a year ago, the person who placed the call to the RCMP was her mom, Cindy Mcgean Simpson. That was the hardest day of Cindy's life.
No, let me take that back.
Everyday since has been the hardest day of her life, always wondering what happened to poor Ashley. If it's hard for John, who literally wakes up crying every single day, it must be excruciating for Cindy.
I have watched her over the past year, and I've been amazed at her strength and resolve as she continues to prop up the rest of the family and carry on.
This weekend, while John was out in Salmon Arm starting his search for his missing girl, Cindy was busy holding a garage sale to raise money for his quest. At Christmas, she went on a ship through the Welland Canal to cook, and help keep the lights on at home.
We share the soul and heart of the Mother Bear protecting her cubs.
We put aside our own pain to soothe the hearts of our children, and to put salve on every cut and wound.
We inspire them to greatness even when we ourselves feel small.

But I wonder: who soothes the heart of a mother who has had her child ripped away from her in such a terrible fashion?
My sincere wish for Mother's Day is that John finds Ashley and finally brings her home to her mother where she belongs.

Let us never forget that motherhood is not just a lifelong job, it's a calling.
Bless you, Cindy.
I hope the kids make you something nice for dinner.
And make them do the dishes.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Ashley Simpson: If Anyone Can Find Her, John Can

John Simpson has a window, a couple of weeks, to find his beloved daughter who went missing a year ago from her home in Salmon Arm, B.C.
He's dropped everything, left his loved ones behind, to make a last ditch effort to find her.
But Mother Nature is not on his side.
Like Moses, he has come up against a wall of water that is keeping him from the places he believes he might find her, or at least evidence of her.
Frustration and anxiety are building. His tears are flowing faster than Margaret Falls, one of Ashley's favorite places. But there's no going back for this father.
He's not giving up. Even if he doesn't find Ashley, John will never give up.
John will continue to soldier on in his quest to act as an advocate for missing and murdered women in Canada. This afternoon, he will join in a town meeting where the people of Salmon Arm and nearby parts will be venting their frustration.
Three women missing without a trace.
This small community is reeling.
And frightened.
John has received calls, emails and Facebook messages from the locals who are anxious to help him search for his child and to feed him and put him up for a few days.
The community is embracing him, and letting him know that the people are there for him.
Most people at least.
Because there is still a killer on the loose.
Maybe more.
It's been a hard week for John who has had numerous meetings with the RCMP.
They tell him not to search alone. This is a dangerous place. The wild is as terrifying as it is breathtaking..
What's the worst for John is that the RCMP have confirmed they consider that Ashley met with foul play. She hasn't been kidnapped or sold on the street.
The mission, as they say, is a recovery mission.
And that's the hardest fact of all for this kind and loving father, grandfather, and great grandfather.
But everybody who knows John knows.
Don't count him out.
He's determined to find her.
If anyone can find Ashley, John Simpson can.

Ashley Simpson Search Begins

Salmon Arm peeps! Take note.
A plea from John.