Premier John Horgan; Melanie Mark, MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant; Grace Lore, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity; and Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, have issued the following statement to acknowledge the annual Women’s Memorial March for murdered and missing women and girls:
“For the past 30 years, people have marched together in the territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside to participate in the Women’s Memorial March for murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls.
“The Women’s Memorial March began as a grassroots action, led by Indigenous women and Elders like Rita Blind, who has spent three decades working to hold those in power to account and advocate for an end to violence against Indigenous women and girls. Every year, it honours and recognizes the daughters, sisters, mothers, grandmothers, aunties, cousins and friends who have been taken by violence or are still missing today.
“In Canada, Indigenous women are three and a half times more likely than non-Indigenous women to be targeted by violence and three times more likely than non-Indigenous women to be killed by someone they know. In the first three months of the pandemic, one in five Indigenous women had reported being a victim of physical or psychological violence. Many Indigenous women and children have been at greater risk of violence while isolated at home with their abuser and cut off from their support network and resources.
“The pandemic has highlighted the systemic racism in our justice system, policing, health care and education – which Indigenous women have been speaking out about for decades. We are listening. In order to improve the safety of Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit and gender diverse peoples throughout the province, we must tackle the long-standing inequities in our systems and institutions that stop them from getting support when they are victimized at home, in their communities or at work.
“Our government continues to work with Indigenous communities throughout the province to end gender-based violence in British Columbia, such as funding 20 community-led projects that provide opportunities for healing, including land-based cultural practices and retreats, healing circles and knowledge sharing. We’ve helped open Canada's first 24/7 shelter for cisgender, trans and two-spirit women sex workers in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. We are investing in more supportive homes, like Spaken House in Victoria for Indigenous women experiencing or at risk of homelessness. And for women and children fleeing violence at home, there are more than 100 transition houses and safe homes throughout the province. We recognize there’s still more work to be done.
“We pledge to continue to listen, learn, take action and work with Indigenous women to end gender-based violence and build a future where Indigenous women and children are safe in every home, every workplace and every community in this province.”