FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ATTENTION: ALL NEWS EDITORS
Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre and Women’s Memorial March Committee Challenge BC Government’s Decision Regarding Missing Women’s Inquiry
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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Marlene George 604-665-3005
Alice Kendall 604 681 8480 x 223
Harsha Walia 778 885 0040
Angela Marie MacDougall 604-808-0507