By Charlotte Moores, Firelight Intern
For the past 27 years, February 14th has been a day to honour the memory of missing and murdered Indigenous women in the Downtown Eastside. Yesterday, thousands took to the streets of downtown Vancouver to march in honour of the lives lost. Commencing at Main and Hastings, the procession of women filled the streets of Vancouver with the sounds of drumming – offering roses and prayers at sites where women were last seen, with many carrying pictures in remembrance of loved ones and community members who have gone missing or lost their lives in the past years.
Despite the recent launch of a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada, the reality of women’s safety in the Downtown Eastside has remained uncertain. A list printed for the march contained the names of nearly 900 women to be honoured– a number that has steadily grown in the past decade. The total number of murdered Indigenous women in Canada estimated to be much higher. The mourning of these women is understandably coupled with anger about the lack of meaningful action being taken to preserve the safety of Indigenous women across B.C. and the rest of Canada.
The strength and solidarity demonstrated by the community in the Downtown Eastside is a powerful example of collective action and a crucial step in bringing the suffering of Indigenous women and communities into the public platform. We at Firelight support the work of the women marching for justice, and echo their call for education, awareness, and priority investigation into cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women across Canada.