Annual Women’s Memorial March in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side
On Feb 14th, Castlemain Staff participated in the Annual Women’s Memorial March in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side (DTES). First held in 1992 to commemorate the sense of hopelessness and loss for women residing in the DTES, the march has grown to encompass the growing movement surrounding Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada. Although the march honours all women who have been lost, a disproportionate amount of those women have been Indigenous.
The march honours the lives and spirits of missing and murdered women while supporting their families and communities. One of the speakers reminded the crowd that the march is not a day of protest, but a memorial to express that these women’s lives continue to matter. Families and Elders gathered at Carnegie Hall before the march to participate in ceremony and prayer and to share their loved one’s stories. At noon, march participants gathered at the centre of Main and Hastings and surrounded family members with prayer flags, banners and signs of support. Many community members brought hand drums to sing prayer songs, including the Strong Woman Song and the Women’s Warrior Song. Elders, families and host nations lead the march, followed by hand drummers. The air was filled with sage and tobacco, and many people walked with cedar boughs. Volunteers spread rose petals on the pavement and the march was periodically stopped to hold prayers. Castlemain staff made up just a few of the thousands of people who attended to show support.