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Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre and Women’s Memorial March Committee Challenge BC Government’s Decision Regarding Missing Women’s Inquiry

by Downtown Eastside Women’s CentreWomen’s Memorial March Committee


May 24, Vancouver Coast Salish Territories – The Downtown Eastside Women’s
Centre and Feb 14th Women’s Memorial March Committee are strongly
condemning the BC government’s decision to not provide funding to support
their participation in the Missing Women’s Inquiry.

The Coalition of the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre and Feb 14th Women’s
Memorial March Committee were granted full standing to participate in the
evidentiary hearings. Commissioner Wally Oppal further recommended that
the provincial government provide funding to 13 applicants, including the
Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre and Feb 14th Women’s Memorial March
Committee. This, however, was turned down by the BC government in an
announcement made by Attorney General Barry Penner on Thursday May 19,
2011, making the participation of these organizations in the Missing
Women’s Inquiry entirely impossible.

“While we support the decision to assist with the legal fees of families
of murdered and missing women, we strongly condemn the decision to
systematically exclude Downtown Eastside, Women’s, and Indigenous advocacy
and service organizations from the Missing Women’s Inquiry,” says Angela
Marie MacDougall.

According to Harsha Walia of the Downtown Eastside Womens' Centre “It is
disgusting that the Vancouver Police Department and the Government of
Canada – who are the ones on trial here - will have well-paid lawyers and
unlimited tax dollars to defend themselves. Meanwhile, voices from the
Downtown Eastside, particularly those of Indigenous women, will continue
to be deliberately marginalized and shut out.”

“This inquiry has a responsibility to highlight those systemic injustices
that allowed the unimaginable deaths and disappearances of so many women
from the Downtown Eastside. The membership of organizations and groups
like the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre and Feb 14th Women’s Memorial
March Committee provide the critical context necessary for this Inquiry as
we knew the women and their lives and their struggles,” states Marlene
George, Chair of the Feb 14th Women’s Memorial March Committee.

“We were witness to the system’s gross negligence as well as racism and
sexism in investigating these disappearances and murders,” says Alice
Kendall, who has worked at the Downtown Eastside Womens' Centre since
1996. “While the government has established an inquiry which we have
demanded for years, we are seriously questioning the integrity of this
Inquiry now for a number of reasons,” she continues.

“We are sick of this. This Inquiry was supposed to be about a measure of
justice for us, but it is just more of the same injustices,” says Beatrice
Starr, who has resided in the Downtown Eastside for 30 years and whose
sister and niece were both murdered.

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