The morning session began with testimonies from the family of Doreen Jack, who went missing along with her two young sons and husband Ronnie Jack in August of 1989.
The testimony came from Doreen’s sister, Marlene.
Marlene says that abuse in the home was prevalent their entire life, and the first time she remembers something traumatic happening was in 1969 when she was a little girl. She said she was sitting in the house with her mother and two sisters when they heard banging outside.
Her mother rushed them to hide and they crawled under the stairs in the dark where they knew they would be safe. Suddenly they heard the door swing open and screaming erupted. They could hear their mother fighting somebody off and then all went silent.
Half an hour later they heard the door open again and the voice of a man rang through the house telling the girls it was their father and to come out. Marlene remembers crying in her father’s arms telling him someone was fighting mom and he needed to go help her. Their mom never returned to the house.
In 1970 the girls started to attend Lejac Residential School, where they were beaten, scolded for having relationships with their siblings and repeatedly told they were useless wastes of life- words that still haunt her to this day.
When the girls were sent home from residential school they lived with their alcoholic father, who would disappear drinking and strange men would come into the house and try to have sex with the girls as young as six. She doesn’t recall ever knowing who the men were and would fight them off until they gave up.
Marlene recalls one time where her father was in a state of drunken anger and attempted to shoot herself and her older sister Doreen. This cycle of abuse continued throughout her life until the residential school closed and she was shipped off to a federally funded group home in Prince George, and her sister Doreen per to the PG College, but dropped out after she found out she was pregnant as a result of a rape.
After that their dad didn’t want them in the house because Doreen was pregnant but ultimately took them back. Russel was born in 1980 and his father was never known. Marlene recalls one time when her sister was beaten for mentioning the name of the man who raped her.
Their dad died a couple years later so Marlene and Doreen hitchhiked with Russel, who was a young toddler at the time, to Quesnel to find their mother. After arriving the learned she was living in a motel.
When their mother answered the door to the girls and young baby, Marlene says she was upset and told them that she gave up on them a long time ago calling them explicit names and telling them she wanted nothing to do with them.
Doreen hitchhiked back to Burns Lake with Russel and Marlene stayed in Quesnel for a while until ultimately finding herself on Vancouver’s southeast side. There she stayed for years ashamed of her life, drunk, abused and raped by random men on a regular basis. Marlene says it got to the point where she just wouldn’t fight back because she was beaten so often.
She discussed her hate for men, calling them disgusting pigs who degrade women. She says in her past men would pretend to care about here, pretend to be her friend and want to help her until they were alone with her then they would take what they wanted and toss her aside.
Marlene recalls one time a man raped her and when he was finished he threw her out of his car and ran over her with both sets of tires, leaving her there. She said it took her two days before she could gain the courage and strength to get up and leave that spot. She never reported it to the police and never sought medical attention.
She met a man on Hastings Street in Vancouver who was 20 years older than her and changed her life. He encouraged her to get off the street and after a year of knowing her allowed her to move into his house.
Marlene was 19 at the time. She got her license and was on the path to get her life back on track. She was living in Mapleridge and Doreen was in Prince George. Darleen was dating Ronnie and they were awaiting the arrival of their son Ryan.
Things started to go downhill again. Marlene was taking courses, but the intimacy involved in her massage therapy course sent her into a relapse and she started drinking again.
Doreen told Marlene of the abuse within her relationship, Marlene recalling on time they were in Burns Lake drinking at the Rodeo grounds when Ronnie came up and punched her blindsided in the face. When she realized what happened she looked over to see Doreen being abused by her husband. Three local men came to her defense and beat up her husband and Doreen just ran away laughing and joking “I wonder what got into him”, illustrating to Marlene how regular and normalized the abuse was.
Then Doreen disappeared. She and Ronnie allegedly received a job offer from an unknown make to work at a camp as a logger and kitchen help. The man told them there was daycare available as well as housing, and for a family on social assistance, it was a good opportunity.
They packed up some of their stuff, leaving their house with the intent of returning, got into the car with the unknown man and their children. They have never been seen again.
Marlene attempted to follow up on the disappearance of her sister, phoning RCMP for information- which she received little of. When the RCMP did share information with her, an officer told her that if she talked to the media she would be cut off and they would not share anymore with her.
She was silent for a long time until she met Gladys Radek and Bernie Williams in Vancouver. They encouraged her to share her story and be strong of all the other women and families who are missing loved ones.
She now has been sober for a year and a half and donates her time to help other women in Vancouver’s southeast side through the women’s centre as well as Carnegie Hall.
Her uncle Puis Jack added to her testimony, bringing up an old tip about the possible locations of their body. RCMP received an anonymous tip in 2012 that the bodies of the family were located on a farm by Stony Creek. Puis says RCMP investigated around the barn, but from what he has heard, the bodies were located along the fenceline. His one request is that the RCMP go back and look again for the bodies of his lost loved ones.