Commitments in Parliament won’t allow me to be with you today at the 22nd Annual Women’s Memorial March. I’ve had the honor of attending many of the Marches over the years and I join you in honoring these women and our community today.
I want to acknowledge the family members, friends, and the Downtown Eastside community who continue to grieve the loss of a community of women and yet, over the course of more than two decades, refuse to be silenced. The dedicated efforts of the organizers and participants of Women’s Memorial March illustrate the plight of so many women in our community. The women we have lost, many of Aboriginal descent, were abandoned by a system that was supposed to protect them, with the most tragic and heartbreaking consequences. The disappearance of so many women from our community raises fundamental questions about justice and equality in our society, and questions about why these women were, and continue to be, so at risk and vulnerable to poverty, exploitation, and violence.
We all hoped that the recommendations of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry would address these urgent questions in immediate, effective and sustained ways. The Inquiry was disappointing in its scope, process and participation. Nevertheless, the Inquiry must compel us all to hold governments to account in memory of the women who have been lost.
While the Women’s Memorial March renews my hope that we will soon see justice in our community, I was dismayed to learn of the loss of funding to a vital support center, the Rainier Hotel Treatment Facility. The Rainier Hotel offers services to women who are homeless, at risk of homelessness or who are former sex trade workers, including housing and innovative, long-term addiction treatment programs. Ironically, at the same time the recommendations of the Missing Women’s Commission of Inquiry came out, the residents of the Rainier were notified that they would soon lose access to some services.
The Women’s Memorial March reminds us that the loss of family members, friends, and neighbors is devastating to Canada as a nation. I support the call for a national public inquiry to alleviate the desperate situation of many women in our community and throughout the country.
I will continue to speak out for justice, equality, and an end to violence against women.
In solidarity and sisterhood,