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Hundreds gathered yesterday in the rainy Vancouver Downtown Eastside for the 26th Annual Downtown Eastside Women's Memorial March.
Held every February 14, the March honours the memory of all women from the Downtown Eastside who have died as a result of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual violence.
"I'm here to say I'm getting sick and tired of the war against Native people and the cowardly people who murder women and little girls," said Tsleil-Waututh Elder Amy George to the crowd at the start of the march. "All of us here, we need to stick together and say the war against us is over. I don't want this to be just this day that we all stand together and say enough is enough."
This year, with the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women, the Women's March committee aimed to bring some awareness of what they hope to see throughout the inquiry.
"The government's current plan for the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women should focus on three key issues," said Fay Blaney, Co-Chair of the Women's March in a statement. "The overall status of Indigenous women in Canada, addressing systemic and male violence against Indigenous women, and safe and respectful participation of families and loved ones including families of the heart, frontline workers and Indigenous feminist organizations."
Across the country, other events took place to stand in solidarity with the Vancouver march, including the 11th Annual Strawberry Ceremony in Toronto, all in the hopes of raising awareness about violence against Indigenous women.
"Our Indigenous women are just as important as any other woman on the soil of these lands. And in the spirit of that I ask you to keep praying, keep believing and do not be silent because you can win. We can win together. You're not alone," said Deborah Parker of the Tulalip Tribes in Washington. "You have a voice. Continue to use it -- not only on this day but every day forward. Every day forward."
Alyse Kotyk is a Vancouver-based writer and editor with a passion for social justice and storytelling. She studied English Literature and Global Development at Queen's University and is excited by media that digs deep, asks questions and shares narratives. Alyse was the Editor of Servants Quarters and has written for the Queen's News Centre, Quietly Media and the Vancouver Observer. She is now rabble's News Intern.
Photos: Alyse Kotyk