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.