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Women Respond to Comments by Reverend Ric Matthews of First United Church; Reiterate Calls for 24-hour Women’s Shelter and Safe Housing in DTES

by DTES Power of Women Group

For immediate release

Women Respond to Comments by Reverend Ric Matthews of First United Church; Reiterate Calls for 24-hour Women’s Shelter and Safe Housing in DTES

March 1, 2011 - Vancouver, BC: A coalition of women and women’s organizations are outraged by First United Church Revered Ric Matthew’s comments in the Vancouver Province regarding the sexual assaults of women at the First United shelter located in the Downtown Eastside. Matthew is quoted as saying “Some women put themselves at risk because of the way they dress or undress or move around the building, they draw attention to themselves.”

According to Elaine Durocher, long-time DTES resident and member of the DTES Power of Women Group: “Those who experience sexual assault are not the ones at fault. Instead of taking sexual assaults against women seriously, a comment like Matthew’s stigmatizes women and sends an unacceptable message that they are to blame for assaults committed against them. This is part of a pattern of increasing attacks on women and women’s bodies across the country.”

In Manitoba, women and Aboriginal organizations have been appalled at Judge Dewar’s comments about a young Aboriginal rape survivor’s attire and sexuality. In January a complaint was filed by Osgoode Law School against a Toronto Police Service officer Constable Michael Sanguinetti who suggested that “women can avoid sexual assault by not dressing like a slut”.

Over the past several weeks, a coalition of women’s organization has been calling for a 24 hours drop-in space and shelter for women in the Downtown Eastside. They are dismayed at the lack of response by all levels of government.

“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.

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 and safe housing so that shelters are in fact an emergency last resort.” “

For decades women went missing and were murdered and people were silent. Now we have knowledge of women being sexually assaulted and are we going to do nothing? Women have a right to safety – this includes more beds for women in shelters, a 24-hours women’s shelter, a couples shelter, and housing for all women and children,” states Kate Gibson of WISH Society.


Alice Kendall Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre 604-681-8480 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              604-681-8480      end_of_the_skype_highlighting Ext 223

Kate Gibson WISH Drop-In Centre 604-669-9474

Harsha Walia (to arrange interviews with DTES Power of Women Group): 778-885-0040

Angela Marie MacDougall Battered Women’s Support Services 604-808-0507

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Revered Ric Matthew should be

Revered Ric Matthew should be kicked out of the church for his comment. If his mother dressed  "the way they dress or undress" should she be subjected to sexual assault? I rest my case. GET A PETITION GOING TO KICK HIM OUT! 

Statement by Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter

March 2, 2011

Statement by Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter on the rapes of women in the shelter of First United Church

Our hearts go out to the women who were raped in their attempt to find safe shelter on winter nights in Vancouver. We applaud their courage to come forward and report the violent assaults against them.

We are calling on the Vancouver Police Department to conduct a thorough investigation of these and other sexist attacks, and to ensure that the men who are committing violence against women will be held accountable by the criminal justice system.

We are outraged by Rev. Ric Matthews’ comment, which blames the victims for the crimes done to them.  Such ignorance about the nature of violence against women is appalling when expressed by anyone, let alone by a religious leader. 

We appreciate the long- standing service that the First United Church has been offering the most disadvantaged people in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. Its effort to provide temporary night shelter, though well-intentioned, is clearly lacking.  We are calling on the First United Church to create a women-only safe space for the women who are in desperate need of beds for the night. 

The temporary shelters in Vancouver are an inadequate response to the total abandonment of women by the federal and provincial governments. The impoverishment of women due to the shameful income assistance rates has had a devastating effect on women, and has dramatically increased their vulnerability to predatory men.

We are calling on the national, provincial and the municipal governments to provide a liveable income and public housing to the women of British Columbia as a first step toward ensuring the safety and autonomy for women. 

In solidarity,

Hilla Kerner, for the collective of Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter

I find it offensive...

That the oppressive and transphobic organization jumps into the fray of this issue - known as Vancouver Rape Relief.

How about we call Vancouver Rape Relief out!

Not that the Tyee has much credo - but here it is:

It is truly unfortunate that organizations that do some good can be so ignorant and oppressive. All the while claiming they are so progressive. Most within the organization have no idea what a "select few within the ^&%* power structure" of the organization have done. Barbara Findlay, the lawyer for Kimberly Nixon (advocate for all in the LGBT2IQ community for decades) calls them "a cult". I tend to agree.

Ignorant arguments like abolitionists and so called feminism used to oppress people by lumping everyone together from their "privileged positions".

Oh how quick we are to marginalize by dictating to others how they should live their lives!

Their black and white privileged positions do not get past me.

(1 step forward and 18 backwards)


remove him from the church!


Here here! I will be writing the church asking for his removal. I will hope to see and speak with him when I visit my friends at the First United. This is absolutely atrocious bull shit! On would've hoped we were over this kind of total crap!

tabloid BS

If he were to leave, 350 people would be on the streets with no-where to go because other shelters will not accept them.  That includes women.  There are lots of women's shelters out there who have empty spaces each night, but many women are banned for bad behaviour or because they are high.  Where are they to go?  First United Church... the only place they can go. 

Tell me that with 350 more people (men and women) on the streets of the dtes that assault won't happen out there.

Not only that, but do you really believe everything you read in the paper? especially an article by Suzanne Fournier?

Maybe if Ric Matthews were to

Maybe if Ric Matthews were to leave, someone would fill his shoes that can safely shelter men and women without the misogynist commentary.

Assault does happen out on

Assault does happen out on the streets (as clearly stated in both articles here), hence the need for shelters, and for the need for shelters to be shelters, i.e. safe spaces where assault does NOT happen.

Also, news flash for you maybe, the "shelter" at first united is not there because of whomever the current minister there happens to be, so tossing this mean and ignorant fossil out on his butt would have no impact on the shelter remaining open or not.  And did you know that the city funds this church to provide this shelter?  So why isn't there some sort of staffing arrangement to provide the most basic oversight and safety?

Ric Matthews out of his comfort zone

Men don't assault women because of what a woman wears.  Get real. Men assault women for a myriad of reasons but the last reason is because of what a woman is wearing.  Women are attacked and assaulted all over the world while dressed in a burkha, or wearing an hajib, or wrapped in saris, even bundled up head to toe in winter clothing.  Men rape and assault women regardless of what they are wearing.  Ric Matthews, you are clearly out of your understanding of the issues and should back down from your comments. I just listened to you muddle through the As It Happens Interview and never did you say sorry or did you apologize for your comments.  You're a misogynist moron with values from a by-gone era that have no place in today's world.

He told the truth. The

He told the truth. The shelter is the end of the road for those losers. They end up there because they don't know how to behave like decent human beings.

No, they end up there because

No, they end up there because no one has ever treated them like human beings.


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