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February 12, 2014 - No. 12

23rd Annual February 14 Women's Memorial March

Demand Justice! No More Impunity!

23rd Annual February 14 Women's Memorial March
Demand Justice! No More Impunity!
23rd Annual February 14th Women's Memorial March - womensmemorialmarch.wordpress.com
Open Letter to Prime Minister Harper Regarding a National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing First Nations Women - Shawn M. Brant
An Awkward Silence: Missing and Murdered Vulnerable Women and the Canadian Justice System - MaryAnne Pearce, Abstract, PhD Thesis

23rd Annual February 14 Women's Memorial March

Demand Justice! No More Impunity!

On February 14, Valentine's Day, actions are taking place in at least 16 cities across Canada as part of the annual Women's Memorial March which began 23 years ago in Vancouver. These marches commemorate the hundreds of friends, sisters, daughters, mothers, aunties and grandmothers who have gone missing or been murdered in the last few decades. The conditions facing girls and women which lead to them being treated as second class citizens and subject to all manner of indignities and violence is an indictment of the state of human rights in Canada -- this while the Canadian state arrogantly lectures others abroad about human rights! That a high proportion of these women and girls are Aboriginal is an indictment of Canada's ongoing colonial relationship with First Nations. Amongst other injustices, the colonial relationship denies them their culture and thought material in which the role of women is one of honour and leadership in the community. Women do not accept this role of being turned into victims and the actions on February 14 are an occasion to not only reject this victimhood but to affirm that women are leaders in the front ranks of those fighting in defence of the rights of all. Join in!

The severity of the situation of missing and murdered women and girls in Canada has long thought to have been underestimated, but the situation has been met by the state and its agencies with indifference. Everything is done to undermine the attempts to grapple with this serious issue. The Harper government itself made a point of cutting funding to the Native Women's Association of Canada's (NWAC) Sisters in Spirit program in 2010, that had led the way in documenting the situation facing Aboriginal girls and women and bringing it to wider public attention. Meanwhile, the 2013 PhD thesis research by MaryAnne Pearce, a federal civil servant in Ottawa, has produced a database of more than 3,300 missing or murdered Canadian women, 824 of whom are identified as aboriginal.

Pearce's thesis covers the years from 1946 to 2013. She cross-referenced newspaper articles, police reports, court documents and other resources as part of her database. The latest figure is much higher than the 582 names the NWAC had compiled as of March 2010 which covered cases going back to 1944.

Pearce was compelled to begin her research in 2007 by the Robert Pickton case, amongst others, a case in which police indifference lead to more victims before Pickton was finally arrested. She said, "I felt a need to do something. I'm not a police officer, I'm not a reporter and I'm not a crown attorney, so what can I do? And I can research and I can write, so I decided to look into the issue." Her thesis (see abstract in this issue of TML) is specifically dedicated to seeking justice for these women and bringing an end to the disappearances and killings.

TML urges everyone to keep alive the memory of these women and girls by joining in actions on February 14 and vigorously fighting for rights and putting an end, once and for all, to violence against women and the disappearances and murders of girls and women.

Our Security Lies in the Fight for the Rights of All!
No More Missing and Murdered Girls and Women!

(With files from TML Archives and CBC News)

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23rd Annual February 14th Women's Memorial March

Vancouver, February 14, 2013

The first women's memorial march was held in 1991 in response to the murder of a Coast Salish woman on Powell Street in Vancouver. Her name is not spoken today out of respect for the wishes of her family. Out of this sense of hopelessness and anger came an annual march on Valentine's Day to express compassion, community, and caring for all women in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, Unceded Coast Salish Territories. Twenty three years later, the women's memorial march continues to honour the lives of missing and murdered women.

On Friday Feb 14th 2014, we will gather at 11 am at the Carnegie Community Centre Theatre, 401 Main Street (corner Hastings, Vancouver) where family members speak in remembrance. Given space constraints, we ask the broader public to join us at noon, when the march takes to the streets and proceeds through the Downtown Eastside [DTES], with stops to commemorate where women were last seen or found; speeches by community activists at the court house; a healing circle at Oppenheimer Park around 2:30 pm; and finally a community feast at the Japanese Language Hall.

Increasing deaths of many vulnerable women from the DTES still leaves family, friends, loved ones, and community members with an overwhelming sense of grief and loss. Women continue to go missing or be murdered with minimal to no action to address these tragedies or the systemic nature of gendered violence, poverty, racism, or colonialism. In light of the sham provincial inquiry, we are calling for a national and international public inquiry that is led by family and community members and that centers their experiences, need for healing, and quest for answers, concrete action, and meaningful justice.

This event is organized and led by women in the DTES because women -- especially Indigenous women -- face physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual violence on a daily basis. The February 14th Women's Memorial March is an opportunity to come together to grieve the loss of our beloved sisters, remember the women who are still missing, and to dedicate ourselves to justice.

"We are here to honour and remember the women, and we are here because we are failing to protect women from poverty and systemic exploitation, abuse and violence. We are here in sorrow and in anger because the violence continues each and every day and the list of missing and murdered women gets longer every year," says Marlene George, Memorial March Committee organizer.

March organizer Mona Woodward agrees. "Why is it such an uphill battle to get justice for missing and murdered women and their families and communities? We are calling for a national and international public inquiry led by family and community members. We need political will at all levels of government to address these tragedies as well as ongoing gendered violence, poverty, and racism."

Marches will also be held in at least 10 other cities including Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Kelowna. Full list here.

Support the Women's Memorial March

There are many ways to support the Feb 14th Women's Memorial March:

1) Spread the word and join us (all genders welcome) to the Feb 14th march. We respectfully ask that you please do not bring your banners, flags, or leaflets as the Women's Memorial March carries five banners only to honour the women.

2) Plan a memorial march in your community. Last year, memorial marches were held in approximately ten other cities and communities. If you are organizing a memorial march please email us the details at hwalia8@gmail.com so we can maintain communication, compile the information on our website, and build strength in our coordinated efforts.

3) Please donate. The February 14th Women's Memorial March is made possible by organizations and individuals like you. Each year the Memorial March committee must raise funds to pay for such things as hall rental, sound system, food, red & yellow roses, memorial brochures, blankets, posters, candles, tobacco and other expenses. Please make cheques payable to the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre, and include Feb 14th Women's Memorial March on the memo line. Mail cheques to the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre, 302 Columbia St. Vancouver, BC V6A 4J1. All donations over $10 will be gratefully acknowledged with a tax deductible receipt.

Thank you all for your support and commitment,

Feb 14th Women's Memorial March Committee

Website: http://womensmemorialmarch.wordpress.com/
Phone: 778-833-3094
Email: killerwhalecan@shaw.ca (Committee Chair Marlene George)
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=264380380945 or search "FEBRUARY 14 WOMEN'S MEMORIAL MARCH DTES VANCOUVER"

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Open Letter to Prime Minister Harper Regarding a National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing First Nations Women

Dear Stephen Harper,

I am writing in regards to a mandate issued from the Mohawk Community of Tyendinaga, dated October 27th 2013, requiring your cooperation for the facilitation of a national inquiry into the circumstances of murdered and missing First Nations Women.

We had anticipated that the government of Canada would have voluntarily asserted its responsibility and made such an announcement during last years Speech From The Throne. While a minor reference was directed to the issue, in the form of the government's intention to strengthen anti-prostitution laws, we felt that this served little comfort and reflected the ignorance of your administration in understanding the scope and severity of the crisis.

In a report, published in September 2013 by MaryAnne Pearce and recently obtained by the RCMP, some 824 First Nations women have now been identified as having been murdered or gone missing, with a majority of those cases documented as having occurred in the past 15 years.

Placing that number into perspective, the National Native Women's Association has determined that 67% of all cases initially reported have concluded in the verifiable death of the person. Accordingly, based on the data provided in the Pearce report, 552 women identified have been murdered while 272 remain missing and whose remains have not yet been recovered.

Your suggestion that strengthening Canada's prostitution laws will serve to reduce this phenomenon is disturbing and simply intended to negatively influence the opinion of other Canadians into believing that First Nations Women are somehow responsible for their own victimization.

It is a well established fact, and confirmed by the Pearce report, that only 20% of the women identified had ever engaged in any "risky behavior" including the sex trade.

Having regard for all the facts, your contempt and disrespect for First Nations women is both blatant and obvious.

If we were to exclude, from the overall numbers, those persons involved in "risky behavior" assuming that they are unworthy of justice, there remains 442 women who have been confirmed as having been murdered who have never engaged in any behavior that is inconsistent with your values, and who are equally deserving of the same protections afforded to every woman in Canada.

Your unwillingness to consider this first step at reconciliation is well documented and understood.

It is our opinion that all diplomatic means to convince you of the need for an inquiry have failed. Further, the tears and sadness of the families left behind have not moved you to any position of compassion.

We have therefore resolved that we will take whatever and further actions that are deemed necessary, to compel you to call a National Inquiry into the crisis of Murdered and Missing Aboriginal Women and Girls.

Respectfully submitted,

Shawn M. Brant

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An Awkward Silence: Missing and Murdered Vulnerable Women and the Canadian Justice System

The murders and suspicious disappearances of women across Canada over the past forty years have received considerable national attention in the past decade. The disappearances and murders of scores of women in British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba have highlighted the vulnerability of women to extreme violence. Girls and women of Aboriginal ethnicity have been disproportionally affected in all of these cases and have high rates of violent victimization. The current socio-economic situation faced by Aboriginal women contributes to this.

To provide publicly available data of missing and murdered women in Canada, a database was created containing details of 3,329 women, including 824 who are Aboriginal. There are key risk factors that increase the probability of experiencing lethal violence: street prostitution, addiction and insecure housing. The vast majority of sex workers who experience lethal violence are street prostitutes. The dissertation examines the legal status and forms of prostitution in Canada and internationally, as well as the individual and societal impacts of prostitution. A review of current research on violence and prostitution is presented. The thesis provides summaries from 150 serial homicide cases targeting prostitutes in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. The trends and questions posed by these cases are identified.

The cases of the missing women of Vancouver and Robert Pickton are detailed. The key findings from the provincial inquiry into the missing women cases and an analysis of the most egregious failings of the investigations (Projects Amelia and Evenhanded) are discussed. Frequently encountered challenges and common errors, as well as investigative opportunities and best practices of police, and other initiatives and recommendations aimed at non-police agencies are evaluated. The three other RCMP-led projects, KARE, DEVOTE and E-PANA, which are large, dedicated units focused on vulnerable women, are assessed.

All Canadian women deserve to live free of violence. For women with vulnerable life histories, violence is a daily threat and a common occurrence. More must be done to prevent violence and to hold offenders responsible when violence has been done. This dissertation is a plea for resources and attention; to turn apathy into pragmatic, concrete action founded on solid evidence-based research.

To view the full thesis, click here.

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Calendar of Events

(Note: Some events take place February 13 or 15)

23rd Annual Women's Memorial March
Friday, February 14 -- 11:00 am

Gather at 11:00 am at Carnegie Community Centre Theatre, 401 Main.
March starts at noon from Main and Hastings.
For information: Facebook

Stolen Sisters Memorial March 2014, Lekwungen Territories
Saturday, February 15 -- 11:00 am

University of Victoria
Gather at 11:00 am; walk begins at 12:00 noon.
For information: Facebook

Friday February 14 -- 12:00 noon
3rd Annual Women’s Memorial Vigil

In front of the Courthouse on Water Street.

Friday February 14 -- 12:00 noon

Gathering at the Nelson Court house (corner of Ward St. and Vernon St.).
For information: Facebook

University of Alberta Campus Memorial March
Friday, February 14 -- 12:00 noon

The march will begin in front of Pembina Hall with speakers and a prayer and will follow a path through campus that will end back at Pembina hall for tea and bannock.
For information: Facebook

Edmonton Memorial March
Friday, February 14 -- 6:30 pm

Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples, 10821-96 Street
Wear red or purple.
For information: memorialmarch@live.com or Facebook

6th Annual Memorial March
Friday, February 14 -- 6:30 pm

Scarboro United Church, 134 Scarboro Ave SW
Speeches begin at 6:30 pm. The march will begin at 7:00 pm and a light meal will follow.
For information: Facebook

Annual Memorial March
Friday, February 14 -- 6:00-7:30 pm

Starts outside City Hall.
For information: Facebook

Strawberry Ceremony
Friday, February 14 -- 5:00 pm
Women’s Place Kenora, 530 3rd St. N.
To honour the spirits of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women.
For information: Facebook

Thunder Bay
Full Moon Memory Walk for Missing & Murdered Anishinabe & Metis Women

Friday February 14 -- 12:00 noon
Meet at City Hall, 500 Donald St. E.
Opening prayer and smudge at 12:00 noon; walk to Lakehead Labour Centre at 1:30 pm.
For information: Facebook

Dinner and Moon Ceremony
Friday, February 14 -- 4:00 pm

In the front community room of Atlohsa, 343 Richmond St. to commemorate our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Sisters. Welcoming with the Naahii Singers. Dinner at 6:00 pm and moon ceremony at 7:00 pm. Everyone is welcome! Please remember to bring your tobacco and water, and wear a skirt for the moon ceremony.
For information: Facebook

Owen Sound
Ceremony and Teach-In
Friday, February 14 -- 5:00 pm

St. George's Hall, 1049 4th Ave. East.
In Honour of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Feast to follow.
For information: Facebook

1st Annual Memorial March for Murdered and Missing Aboriginal Women

Friday, February 14 -- 4:00-7:00 pm
11 Albert Street South
For information: Facebook

9th Annual Strawberry Ceremony in Honour of Missing and Murdered
Indigenous Women and Those Who Have Died Violent Deaths by Colonialism

Friday, February 14 -- 12:30 pm
Starts with Strawberry Ceremony with Wanda Whitebird at
Police Headquarters, 40 College Street at Bay.
For information: Facebook

4th Annual Day of Justice for our Sisters in Spirit
Thursday, February 13 -- 11:45 am-1:30 pm

Families of Sisters in Spirit will be starting our Memorial March at the Prime Minister's Office (80 Wellington St.) at 11:45 am. We will walk to Parliament Hill together for a rally and round-dance.
For information: Facebook

Annual March for Missing and Murdered Women
Friday February 14 -- 6:00 pm

Place Emilie Gamelin (Berri Metro, corner Berri & Ste. Catherine).
For information: Facebook

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