CD Works

Ode to the missing but not forgotten

Link: Ode to the missing but not forgotten

Lori Culbert
Vancouver Sun

Monday, June 05, 2006

VANCOUVER - The grandfather of a missing woman whom pig farmer Robert (Willy) Pickton has been accused of murdering hopes a powerful song penned by famed poet Susan Musgrave will raise money to help other troubled women.

DIANA NETHERCOTT/SPECIAL TO THE SUN Susan Musgrave, at her Saanich home, based the lyrics on the life of a woman whom pig farmer Robert (Willy) Pickton is accused of murdering.

"It's a gift from Andrea to the missing women," an emotional Jack Cummer said about the song Missing, which Musgrave wrote in memory of his granddaughter Andrea Joesbury.

The song is a collaboration of Musgrave's poignant lyrics, Galiano Island guitarist Brad Prevedoros' haunting music, and the captivating voice of singer Amber Smith.

Proceeds from the sale of the CD ($18.50 out of the $20 price tag) will go to Haven Society, a Nanaimo-based non-profit organization that for 28 years has been helping women and children escape violence and sexual exploitation.

Cummer said the song, and his fundraising effort, are not about what happened to Joesbury, but he hopes it will stop other girls and women from being lured into dangerous lifestyles.

Joesbury is one of 26 sex-trade workers whom Pickton is accused of murdering. Another 40 women remain missing, after vanishing from Vancouver's drug-infested Downtown Eastside since 1978.

And the issue is not Vancouver's alone. Vulnerable women continue to disappear or turn up dead in Edmonton, and on the so-called Highway of Tears between Prince George and Prince Rupert.

"Awareness, that is the key word. This is the future that we're talking about. They keep talking about the Highway of Tears. Why are these kids leaving home? That's the subject that they have to face. Why did Andrea leave home?" Cummer asked.

Joesbury, a beautiful young woman with blond hair and an engaging smile, had a troubled mother and an abusive father. She lived at times with her grandparents, Jack and Laila Cummer, but was searching for something else in her teen years.

"She went to Vancouver because she was looking for love. And she found this guy, and she fell in love with him. She was a young, naive girl -- 16 years old -- not knowing what's going on," Cummer said.

"Eventually she phoned and let me know he was 15 or 20 years older than she was, so it gave her two things: A man she loved and a father figure. But she was put on the streets because he was a drug dealer."

Joesbury kept in touch with her grandparents until June 2001, when all phone calls from the 23-year-old stopped. The next news the Cummers received about their granddaughter was from police, who told them in 2002 that her remains had been found on Pickton's Port Coquitlam farm.

"When Andrea was reported missing, it really shook us up. When they came over and told us that they had found her remains, it devastated me," said Cummer, a retired salesman.

Through a series of mutual contacts, Cummer met Musgrave and asked her to write a poem about the missing women. Her words were so touching that he then asked Prevedoros (whom he had heard perform at a Vancouver Island resort) to put them to music and find a singer.

The result "was far more than what we had anticipated," said Cummer, who hopes the tune will inspire others to reach out to family members in need of help and to purchase a copy of the CD to support Haven Society.

For Musgrave, a prolific and diverse writer who has published 20 books, the song represented her first official foray into composing lyrics.

"It really feels like a tribute. It feels like something honouring those women, giving them a kind of a voice, I guess, of their own, a stance of their own, that's positive. It isn't depressing, it's life-affirming, actually," said Musgrave.

In the background of the song, the names of the more than 60 missing women are chanted.

"With so many names named it becomes so eerie, because you realize how many of them there are. And each person is a real person," Musgrave said. "It just goes on and on. Every time I hear it, I go 'There were just so many. How did it come to be that nobody did anything?' "

Musgrave researched the project by looking for any writing or words left behind by the missing women, and came across the diary entries of Sarah de Vries. She incorporated into the chorus the prophetic words of de Vries, whom Pickton is also charged with murdering: "Will they remember me when I'm gone . . . or will their lives just carry on."

The cover of the CD, which is decorated with forget-me-not flowers and the eyes of several of the missing women, acknowledges the use of de Vries' words in the song.

Musgrave is married to acclaimed author and bank robber Stephen Reid, who is in jail for the botched holdup of a Victoria bank. She said Reid's struggles with heroin has made her more compassionate toward others with drug addictions, which she argues are more about "managing pain" than "having fun."

"You sort of have to know a little bit about how it affects families, and how addiction affects people to be able to talk about it," said Musgrave. "I'm plugged into grief and loneliness and all those things in my own life, in my own way."

When the CD was first produced two years ago, Cummer had intended for it to support a different charity but that didn't work out, he said. It has taken until now for him to settle on Haven House in Nanaimo, close to his Nanoose Bay home, after learning about it through acquaintances.

One thousand CDs have been produced and the proceeds will go to WillowWAI, a two-year-old Haven Society program that has partial local government funding but requires community support to continue.

The program, which has a $300,000 annual budget, offers three houses that women and children can live in for six months if they are homeless due to addictions, violence or sex-trade involvement; it assists homeless families, adults and children to find their own housing; and it provides drug recovery help and other services to develop life skills.

Missing is not the first song written in honour of Vancouver's missing women. More than 80 artists, including some of Canada's top musicians, collaborated on The Streets Where You Live in 2002 to raise money for a drug treatment facility in Vancouver.


To get a copy of Missing:

- On the Internet:

- By phone: (250) 754-0764, payable by Visa or Mastercard

- By Mail:

Elizabeth Hume

c/o Haven Society

PO Box 311

Nanaimo, BC V9R 5L3

(Cheque or money order payable to Haven Society)

- Cost: $20 plus $2 for postage for mail anywhere in Canada     



By Susan Musgrave

Missing's a word that can't begin to describe

the way I miss you more each day;

You left to chase the wind on high

and the rain rained down to stay.

Will they remember me when I'm gone, you said,

when I've kissed goodbye to pain;

Or will their lives just carry on

in the small hours of the rain.

You may be lost in the eyes of the world,

but how can I set you free;

When there's a whole empty world in my aching heart,

you're the missing part of me.

Ruby Anne Hardy, Jacqueline McDonell, Jennie Lynn Furminger,

Sarah de Vries

Heather Bottomley, Andrea Joesbury, Marcella Creison, Dawn Teresa Crey

Elaine Allenbach, Debra Lynne Jones, Angela Arseneault, Lillian O'Dare

Mona Wilson, Michelle Gurney, Cindy Beck, Laura Mah

Sheryl Donahue, Wendy Allen, Julie Young, Teresa Triff


How far from home is "missing"?

In our prayers you're close beside us every


When you left to chase the wind so high,

the rain moved in to stay.

Will they remember me when I'm gone,

you said,

when I've kissed goodbye to pain;

Or will their lives just carry on

in the small hours of the rain.

You may be an orphan in the eyes of the


can we ever love anyone enough?

You'll always have a home in our loving


You're the missing part of us.

Sheila Egan, Rebecca Guno, Angela Jardine, Brenda Ann Wolfe

Georgina Papin, Sherry Irving, Helen Hallmark, Tanya Holyk

Leigh Miner, Inga Hall, Patricia Johnson, Yvonne Boen, Tiffany Drew

Julie Young, Janet Henry, Dorothy Anne Spence, Ingrid Soet, Elaine Dumba, Sherry Lynn Rail

Jacqueline Murdock, Olivia Gale Williams, Catherine Gonzalez, Heather Chinnock


How far from home is "missing"?

In our prayers you're close beside us every


When you left to chase the wind so high,

the rain moved in to stay.

Will they remember me when I'm gone,

you said, when I've kissed goodbye to pain;

Or will their lives just carry on

in the small hours of the rain.

How can we believe in a merciful world

that could never believe in you enough?

Take what strength you need from our

fearless hearts,

You're the missing part of us.

Taressa Williams, Diana Melnick, Kathleen

Dale Wattley, Catherine Maureen Knight

Wendy Crawford, Elsie Sebastien, Marnie Lee Frey, Stephanie Lane

Frances Young, Nancy Clark, Cindy Feliks, Dianne Rock

Kerry Lynn Koski, Sereena Abotsway, Andrea Borhaven, Maria Laliberte

Yvonne Abigosis, Verna Littlechief, Dawn Lynn Cooper, Linda Louise Grant


Missing means you're gone, I can't find you;

My dear one, I'll never hold you again.

You left to chase the wind too high

and the rain can't wash my tears away.

Will they remember me when I'm gone,

you said,

when I've kissed goodbye to pain;

Or will their lives just carry on

in the small hours of the rain.

You may have disappeared in the eyes of the


but when I close my eyes I'll always see

your name, they way you smile, inside my

wishful heart,

The missing part of me. 


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