Press release linked here.

PRESS CONFERENCE: Monday, Feb. 14, 10:30 a.m. In Carnegie (3rd floor)

VANCOUVER, Coast Salish Territories — The February 14th Annual Women’s Memorial March is held on Valentine’s Day each year to honour the memory of the women from the Downtown Eastside who die due to the violence of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual abuse. Now in its 20th year, the March is an immensely powerful women’s action that brings courage and commitment to remember and honour murdered and missing women and to end the violence that vulnerable women face on a daily basis.

“We are here to honour and remember the women, and we are here because we are failing to protect women from the degradation of poverty and systemic exploitation, abuse and violence. We are here in sorrow and in anger because the violence continues each and every day and the list of missing and murdered women gets longer every year,” says Marlene George, Memorial March Committee organizer.

Over the past year, approximately ten women in the Downtown Eastside have been murdered including Ashley Machisknic, a young Indigenous woman who was found in an alley behind the Regent hotel on September 15, 2010 and Carla Marie Smith, a sex-trade worker found brutally murdered on February 7, 2011. Indigenous girls have continuously relayed harrowing stories of drugging and sexual assault by sexual offender Martin Tremblay. In 2003, Tremblay was charged with 18 counts of sexual assault and administering a noxious substance to five Indigenous girls between the ages of 13 and 15. This year two women have been murdered by Tremblay. Seventeen-year-old Martha Hernandez died from a lethal dose of drugs and alcohol inside Tremblay’s home in March 2010 and the same day 16-year-old Kayla Lalonde’s body was discovered near his home.

In the face of this unending violence, the Memorial March Committee is seeking to stand at the provincial government’s controversial Missing Women Commission of Inquiry. “While the government has finally established an inquiry which we have demanded for years, we have not been consulted or involved in any meaningful way about the purpose or scope or terms of reference. We are seriously questioning the integrity of this inquiry as well as Commissioner Wally Oppal,” states Carol Martin, a victim services worker.

This year, marches will also be held on February 14 in at least ten other cities including Victoria, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary, and London.

In Vancouver, friends and family members led by women move through the DTES, stopping at sites where women have died for ceremonies and laying roses in remembrance as well as offering prayers and medicines. Prior to the march, a press conference is being organized at 10:30 a.m. in Carnegie. “The women we remember may not be with us today, but we cannot let their struggles be forgotten. Every life is precious and we continue to work for justice by sending a strong message that sexual violence will not be tolerated,” further states George.

MEDIA PROTOCOL FOR FEB 14: There will be a media scrum in Carnegie 3rd floor, classroom 2 at 10:30 a.m. There will be NO MEDIA in Carnegie Theatre during the family remembrance between noon – 1 p.m. Media may record the march at 1 p.m., except no recording of any of the ceremonies during the march.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Marlene George: 604-665-3005, Carol Martin 778 322 3069, Mable Mipshank 604 808 6504, Stella August 604 833 8516, Dalannah Bowen 604 642 2502, Lisa Yellow-Quill 604 618 1061,. Website: http://womensmemorialmarch.wordpress.com/

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Krystalline Kraus

krystalline kraus is an intrepid explorer and reporter from Toronto, Canada. A veteran activist and journalist for rabble.ca, she needs no aviator goggles, gas mask or red cape but proceeds fearlessly...