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Downtown Eastside groups demand: "Prorogue the Olympics!"


by DTES Women Centre Power of Women Group



Jan 11, 2010 VANCOUVER, Coast Salish Territories – With one month till the
opening ceremonies of the 2010 Olympic Games, a network of Downtown
Eastside (DTES) groups and supporters are calling on the Government of
Canada to prorogue the Olympics.

“Harper and other politicians are always quick to point out the
undemocratic nature of other countries. To us, Canada is a failed state
given the consistent and systematic failure of all levels of government to
address the pressing issues of homelessness, gentrification, missing and
murdered women, poverty, and criminalization in the DTES. We are demanding
that the government prorogue the Olympics!” states Harsha Walia, Project
Coordinator at the Downtown Eastside Womens' Centre.

The DTES Justice for All Network consisting of Carnegie Community Action
Project, DTES Women Centre Power of Women Group, Vancouver Area Network of
Drug Users, DTES Elders Council, Streams of Justice, Vancouver Action,
Impact on Communities Coalition, PACE, DTES Neighbourhood House and others
will be organizing and participating in a month long series of events. The
launch will be taking place with a press conference on Tues Jan 12 at 3 pm
at 133 Powell Street.

The Downtown Eastside of Vancouver is the poorest postal code in Canada,
while British Columbia has the highest poverty rate in the country.  Wendy
Pedersen of the Carnegie Community Action Project states: “Money spent on
the Olympics could have ended homelessness and poverty in my
neighbourhood, the Downtown Eastside.  Instead, the Olympics has been an
informal target date for “revitalizing” the DTES which has made it easier
for developers to sell condos in our area.  Low-income residents have been
pushed out by higher land prices which cause rent increases and evictions.
The area is becoming more uncomfortable to those who have lived here for

According to Stella August, member of the DTES Power to Women Group “The
police have launched a series of crackdowns against the poor in time for
the international media and the tourists. We are angered at the hypocrisy
of a government that closes down emergency shelters and refuses to build
proper housing, while allowing police to harass and displace homeless
people. People should matter more than corporate profits.”

According to Dave Diewert of Streams of Justice “Forcing people into
shelters is not a solution to homelessness; it simply renders it invisible
to the mediated gaze of international tourists and investors. We need new
secure, adequate, and accessible low-income housing that truly addresses
the homelessness crisis of our city. We will raise a ruckus during and
beyond the Olympics until that happens.”

“We want all the people coming to Canada to know about the unimaginable
violence that has taken the lives of so many women in the DTES,” states
Beatrice Starr of the DTES Power to Women Group. “Every year the list of
murdered and missing women continues to grow, but our society just sees
them as another stereotype or another statistic. It is shameful that there
is the political will to host the Olympic Games, but little support for
our call for justice for our sisters and daughters and friends.” Last
year, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
against Women wrote: “Hundreds of cases involving aboriginal women who
have gone missing or been murdered in the past two decades have neither
been fully investigated nor attracted priority attention.”

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Prorogue Gateway and the South Fraser Freeway.

 this is one of the best ideas I have heard in a long time. I think they also need to prorogue the Gateway / South Fraser Freeway projects as well. 

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