Feb 14 – the 19th Missing Women’s Memorial March in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside – it was a day of much emotion, support and community spirit. Imagine that after the rain the sun came out, a warm wind blew through Main and Hastings, and high, high above us, eagles circled – looking down on the memories of the missing women, and the thousands who have come out in support. The families, many Aboriginal, drums beating, posters of women missing, and elders and kids, were all assembled as the solemn procession headed down Main Street, finally winding its way back along E. Hastings, with stops along the way, to smudge the memories of women in particular places of significance.
It was the biggest turn out of the memorial march I have seen – the backdrop of the Olympics somehow re-enforcing the importance of this day and how the missing women and those who are still at risk cannot be ignored – despite the attention on the 2010 Games.
The risks and violence inherent in sex worker’s lives, poverty, lack of housing, discrimination, and the harshness of survival, are issues that demand a response that is based on protecting people’s rights and safety. I recently re-iterated my long-standing call for a public inquiry into the missing women.
Today’s event was an outpouring of solidarity and support from the community. We must recognize and uphold Aboriginal rights, the equality and safety for women, especially those at risk of violence and harm, and call on all levels of government to respond with meaningful action.