For 27 years, people have marched through Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside on Valentine’s Day to honour all the women who have been murdered or gone missing from its streets. They stop at sites where victims of violence were last seen, or took their last breath, offering prayers, medicines and roses.
And through the years, the reality on the ground hasn’t changed.
“Increasing deaths of many vulnerable women from the Downtown Eastside still leaves family, friends, loved ones, and community members with an overwhelming sense of grief and loss,” organizers said in a statement ahead of Tuesday’s march. “Indigenous women disproportionately continue to go missing or be murdered with minimal action to address these tragedies or the systemic nature of gendered violence, poverty, racism, or colonialism.”
This year, Canada has finally embarked on an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, although families and leaders are concerned it isn’t equipped to get at the root of a national crisis that has been called a tragedy and a disgrace.
Here’s what Monday’s display of community, support and love looked like in Vancouver, and beyond.