Women’s memorial march: Hundreds honour the missing and dead in Downtown Eastside


On Valentine’s Day, yellow and red rose petals were lovingly cast on the streets of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.


This was done in memory of all women who have gone missing, whose fate remains unknown, and for those who have died from violence.

At the head of the 23rd annual women’s memorial march today (February 14) were two young girls, who scattered rose petals as the procession began from the intersection of Main and Hastings streets.

Among the marchers was Sarah de Vries, a 23-year-old woman who carries her mother’s name.

Her mother, Sarah de Vries, was one of the victims of convicted serial killer Robert William Pickton.

“A lot of them didn’t think they’d be remembered,” de Vries told the Georgia Straight. “I don’t think any of them thought that they would be thought of at all.”

It was de Vries’s third annual women’s memorial march after she moved from Toronto to Vancouver three years ago.

“If they could see what’s become of the march today, they’d be, oh, shocked at how much support and how much love and how much recognized they are here,” de Vries said about the women being honoured at the march.

D.J. Joe carried a poster about her missing niece, Angeline Pitt.

It was Joe’s 18th annual march. She was delighted when eagles appeared in the cloudy skies.

“The eagles always show up,” Joe told the Straight. “They show up to protect the marchers.”

Vancouver's first women's memorial march took place in 1991.

A Vancouver police officer assisting with the traffic flow estimated the number of marchers between 500 to 1,000.

As the march wound its way around the Downtown Eastside, flowers and tobacco were offered at a number of addresses where missing and murdered women were last seen.

The thumping of native drums echoed on the streets, and sage burned to heal the wounded spirits of both living and dead.

Comments (4) Add New Comment
Ernie Crey
A heartfelt thanks to each and everyone in today's memorial march.
Rating: +10
First time marchee
More people ought to be encouraged to come out to this annual March. When you are there, looking into the eyes of the marchers--many of whom have lost women they dearly love--and see the pain there, it is harder to ignorantly live in your safe secure bubble (you think) and figure someone else will help. Let's all help so it won't happen again and again and again.
Rating: +4
Wonderful march, as always. Thx to all involved and Happy birthday Taressa Williams, murdered on DTES at 15. Lets all remember the younger victims as well.
Rating: +8
I knew many of Willie Picton's victims, as a worker in the DTE all through the 90's. I won't forget the length of time it took law enforcement, especially the VPD, who, as a rule would not take missing persons reports on residents of the DTE, especially women and especially around the end of the month after welfare Wednesday. The general thinking was they would show up once the money, or the 'party' ended. Well we know now what happened to many, and I hope the VPD and RCMP learned something about respect for all people and found some way of working together, because it took way too long to figure it out. I remember those victims and other brave women whose lives ended by violence. I remember them often and will not let their memories die. I am happy the march continues strong and an I hope it continues to grow to a mob that screams ENOUGH ALREADY. Maybe someone will hear; maybe then it will be safer for women in the city/province. Right now, I do not believe much has improved.
Rating: -5
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