For residents of British Columbia and Washington State it is almost commonplace to hear of another human foot found on a beach. Since 2007, ten running or hiking shoes with feet intact have been discovered on the shores of the Pacific Ocean or nearby.
Yesterday saw the emergence of the eleventh foot in a running shoe in Vancouver’s tony False Creek neighbourhood.
The first foot in a size 12 shoe was discovered on August 20, 2007 on the shore of a small island northeast of Nanaimo, British Columbia, a one-hour ferry ride from downtown Vancouver. The second foot encased in a Reebok shoe, size 12, was discovered one week later on Gabriola Island, a picturesque isle close to Vancouver. No identification was made.
On February 8, 2008, a third right foot belonging to a male, wearing a size 11 Nike was found on Valdez Island, a small island between Galiano and Gabriola Islands in British Columbia’s Active Pass. A few months later on May 22, 2008 at the mouth of the Fraser River, again close to Vancouver, a size 7 woman’s New Balance running shoe was found with a foot attached.
Foot number five was also located at the Fraser River on June 16, 2008. It was the foot of a man whose DNA matched the foot that had washed up on Valdez Island in February 2008. But there were still five more feet to go.
On August 1, 2008 a hiking shoe size 8 containing a man’s foot was discovered west of Seattle in Port Angeles and on November 11 another female foot in a running shoe was found on the shore of the Fraser River, near Vancouver. It was a match with the foot that had been found in May 2008 near the same location and a woman was identified.
On October 27, 2009 another male foot washed ashore in Richmond British Columbia, a bedroom community of Vancouver and on August 27, 2010 the right foot of a small woman or child surfaced on lovely Whidbey Island, a favorite vacation retreat for wealthy Seattle residents.
Last December a tenth hiking shoe, boy’s size 6, was found resting on a Tacoma Washington beach.
So, what are we to make of these shoes and feet? The general consensus seems to focus on Vancouver’s gang wars which have escalated since 2007 and continue unabated. The police report there are hundreds of different gangs in the Vancouver area all vying for control of the drug trade.
While in the past these gangs have developed along ethnic lines: the Persians, the Russians, the Indo-Canadians, the skinheads, the Hell’s Angels and their puppet clubs, today there is very little loyalty and new groups of violent young men have joined forces to take over turf from the original outlaws: the Red Scorpions, the Independent Soldiers, the Bacon Brothers and others whose leaders are being picked off by police one by one, if they or their girlfriends are not gunned down by warring gang members.
The loss of human life has been overwhelming, including innocent victims who have been unlucky enough to be caught in the crossfire. We can only hope that when gang members finally come before the courts, principles of general deterrence are applied to serve as a warning to young, aspiring gang members.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang