Each year on February 14th, thousands gather in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside to honour and remember missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and gender-diverse people who have lost their lives. This march is intended to bring attention to the gendered violence, poverty, racism, and the effects of colonialism and systemic injustices that has impacted these individuals and still impacts their loved ones today within that community. But it also raises hope for the many who may yet still be safely found.
The first women’s memorial march was held in 1992 in response to the murder of a woman on Powell Street in Vancouver. 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 on unceded Coast Salish territories.
The memorial march continues to honour the lives of our beloved sisters in the Downtown Eastside, and all women’s and gender-diverse peoples’ lives lost in the Downtown Eastside. Increasing deaths of many women and gender-diverse people from the DTES still leaves family, friends, loved ones, and community members with an overwhelming sense of grief and loss. Indigenous women, girls, two spirit and trans people disproportionately 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.
This event is organized and led by Indigenous women in the DTES because women – especially Indigenous women, girls, two spirit and trans people – 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 and MMIWG2S+ relatives in the Downtown Eastside, remember the women who are still missing, and to dedicate ourselves to justice.
This year, Potluck is supporting by not only marching, but by providing home made bannock and hot meals, made in-house by our cherished Indigenous staff. This is an important event for so many reasons, and Potluck participates in the best way we know how; by connecting people through good food.
"HOW CAN YOU SUPPORT?
1) ATTEND: Spread the word and join us (all genders welcome) to the Feb 14th march. We respectfully ask that you please do not bring your agency or group banners, flags, or leaflets as the march only carries signage remembering our sisters. Signs to honour womens lives are welcome.
2) KNOW THE PROTOCOL: In a good way, we want to inform everyone about the protocol the march that has been in place for three decades:
At 10 am, there will be a family and community remembrance at Main and Hastings.
At noon, the elders and family members make a circle at Main and Hastings for the prayer circle and then the march proceeds.
Women elders carrying medicines are at the front, followed by all women elders and family members and women drummers. The quilt made by loved ones in the DTES community is carried behind the family members and drummers.
Everyone is invited to follow. We ask that you leave your organizational banners at home, signs honouring women’s lives are welcome.
The march makes a number of stops along the way for ceremony to honour where women were last seen or found.
At approximately 2 pm we stop again at Main and Hastings for speeches by community members, followed by a healing circle and drummers at Oppenheimer Park around 3 pm, and finally a community feast at the Japanese Language Hall from 4-5 pm.
3) VOLUNTEER: Please volunteer to support the march with setup, cleanup and more. We need approximately 84 volunteers (all genders welcome). Volunteers can sign up here: https://signup.com/go/AXMcnTp
4) DONATE: The march is made possible by organizations and individuals like you. This year we need to raise $10,000. Please donate online https://dewc.ca/donate-online and in the question “Where would you like to give?” please specify the Women’s Memorial March.” Or 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: https://womensmemorialmarch.wordpress.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/womensmemorialmarch/
Carol Martin: 236-512-4511 Wendy Nahanee: 604-725-3953 Summer-Rain: 604-652-1867 Myrna Cranmer: 778.869.7200"