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Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories

No More Stolen Sisters: Safe Shelters, Safe Housing, Safe Services!


1:30pm
Tuesday March 22 2011

Venue: Gather at Main and Hastings

- this action requires your support, please read below on ways to do so, including sample letter to email in -

No More Stolen Sisters:
Safe Shelters, Safe Housing, Safe Services!

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Tuesday March 22 at 1:30 pm (ongoing - join when you can!)
Gather at Main and Hastings in the DTES
for March AND Women's Action
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"Come on, shit happens, look at Rwanda, look at Libya" - Margaret McNeil, BC Housing when asked about BC Housing's role to ensure women's safety in their shelters after numerous reports of sexual assaults at the First United Church were made public.

For decades women have gone missing and been murdered from the Downtown Eastside. Recently, it has come to light that women are being sexually assaulted in shelters in the neighbourhood, but the response from service providers and BC Housing has largely been muted. The silence and normalization of violence and sexual assault against women in this community is unacceptable. Women should be free from racialized, gendered, colonial violence. As condos overrun this neighbourhood, women should not have to "choose" between the indignity of homelessness and being warehoused in shelters, and the high-risk of assault associated with both. Women have a right to physical, mental, emotional, spiritual safety – this includes more beds for women in shelters, a 24-hours women’s drop-in, and housing for all women and children. BC Housing must act immediately.

Beatrice Starr, an Indigenous woman who stayed at the First United Church Shelter for over 8 months says “All of us are someone’s mother or someone’s daughter and deserve to be treated with respect. Warehousing hundreds of people in a shelter is unacceptable; it is like residential schools. Also, increasing police presence in the shelters only makes the problem worse because mistrust of the police runs deep. Instead, all Downtown Eastside residents should have adequate housing and access to safe services.”

“BC Housing and the City of Vancouver are responsible to ensure that safe services are equally available to women in this community. Women should not have to choose between the indignity of homelessness and violence within publicly funded institutions” states Alice Kendall, Coordinator of the Downtown Eastside Womens' Centre.

Background info: http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/newsrelease/6390 and http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/newsrelease/6496

* WAYS TO SUPPORT:

1) We are requesting all DTES residents, women and women-identified groups, DTES organizations, and friends to join us in a march AND women's action on Tuesday March 22. Your presence is vital! Please bring any organizational banners.

2) We are gathering at 1:30 pm at Main and Hastings. To find out where we are during the day and evening please call Alice 778 322 4594 or Nassim 778 848 0722 or check on Harsha's twitter here http://twitter.com/HarshaWalia

3) On Tuesday morning we are requesting everyone to please send an email along the lines of the below to all of the following email addresses

Shayne Ramsey, CEO of BC Housing
sramsay@bchousing.org

Minister of Housing Rich Coleman
rich.coleman.mla@leg.bc.ca

Mayor Gregor Robertson
gregor.robertson@vancouver.ca

RE: Safe Housing and Safe Services for Women in the DTES

It has come to my attention that for the past two months a coalition of women in the Downtown Eastside and women-serving organizations has been raising the urgent issue of women's safety in shelters in the Downtown Eastside. This comes in response to a number of reported sexual assaults at a shelter in the Downtown Eastside.

I have been dismayed by the lack of response by all levels of government about the ongoing violence committed against women in the Downtown Eastside. Sexual assaults against women in this neighbourhood in
particular are normalized and their safety is not considered of highest priority as we have seen with the ongoing tragedy of missing and murdered women. This would never be acceptable in any other part of town.

This community of women has been calling for a 24 hours drop-in space and shelter for women in the Downtown Eastside, as well as housing for homeless women and children with at least 100 units to be made available immediately. I would like to add my voice to that call.

Sincerely,
(NAME, ADDRESS, CONTACT INFO)


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