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 that 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.
All these years later, the Women's Memorial March continues to honour the lives of missing and murdered women and all women's lives lost in the Downtown Eastside, and in cities across Canada.
My first encounter with the March took place on Valentine's Day 2010 in Victoria. It was a quiet, powerful experience.
Indigenous women disproportionately continue to go missing or be murdered in our city. Political will to address these tragedies, or the systemic nature of gendered violence, poverty or racism.
In Vancouver the March starts at 12 noon on Sunday, February 14. People of all genders are encouraged to congregate at the corner of Hastings and Main at the Carnegie Community Centre. The March will proceed through the Downtown Eastside, stopping to commemorate at places where women were last seen or found. Speeches by community leaders and activists will take place at the Courthouse.
Photography is discouraged during the March. No political or union flags, banners, leaflets or posters are allowed at this event.