15 September 2015

Marker of Change motion passes unanimously

Thank you to the Women's Monument Action Committee and all Commissioners for your support.

Here are my remarks from last night's Park Board meeting: 

It is my great honour and privilege to present this motion for your consideration tonight. I want to first thank the Women’s Monument Action Committee for bringing this issue to my attention and to Commissioner Kirby-Yung for seconding it.
The Women’s Memorial “Marker of Change” is an important and, to me, a sacred place in Vancouver. But it does not only belong to Vancouver. It is a monument of great significance to all Canadians and to people everywhere who believe violence against women must be stopped.

The murder of 14 women in Montreal touched us all. For me, as a student at Montreal’s Concordia University at the time, it has special significance. This massacre could easily have happened at Concordia or any other university. It could have happened at any school or workplace or in fact at any public place. It could have happened anywhere where women are found. It could have happened anywhere.

The significance of this event cannot be diminished, ever. It was the result of a society rife with misogyny and rooted in patriarchy. We have learned much and made many changes since then, but the Marker of Change reminds us of how far we still need to go. Violence against women is still a continuing problem in Canada. 

·       Half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16

·       67% of all Canadians say they personally know at least one woman who has been sexually or physically assaulted

·       On average, every six days a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner.  In 2011, from the 89 police reported spousal homicides, 76 of the victims (over 85%) were women

·       On any given day in Canada, more than 3 300 women (along with their 3 000 children) are forced to sleep in an emergency shelter to escape domestic violence. Every night, about 200 women are turned away because the shelters are full

·       Each year, over 40 000 arrests result from domestic violence—that’s about 12% of all violent crime in Canada. Since only 22% of all incidents are reported to the police, the real number is much higher.

·       In 2014, the RCMP released a report on their "National Operational Review" on the issue of "Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women" which amounted to 1 181 women total - 164 missing and 1 017 murdered. Both Amnesty International and the United Nations have called upon the Canadian government to take action on this issue, without success.  According to the Native Women’s Association of Canada, “if this figure were applied proportionately to the rest of the female population there would be over 18,000 missing Canadian women and girls.”

The Marker of Change is an important place of remembrance and education and it deserves our respect. Through no fault of the Park Board, a flock of geese were displaced from an area behind the Pacific Central Station. While efforts have been made to clean the monument and I want to thank our staff for their efforts, it is now time to find a permanent solution to this problem.

I have no doubt that our staff can, through the examination of best practices, find a way to dissuade the geese from occupying this park. Working together we can return this area to how it was before the geese were displaced. 

I hope you will join me in support of this motion. Thank you.

       For your information, the Park Board meetings are live streamed and archived. You can go to: http://civic.neulion.com/vancouverparkboard/ and click on the 14th on the calendar and then Regular Board meeting to get last night stream. My motion is introduced at 5:30, my remarks at 9:10 and the vote at 20:20.

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