Women’s organizations denounce VPD spin on arrest outside women’s center

WISH Drop-In Centre Society
Atira Women’s Resource Society
Downtown Eastside Women’s Centr
BWSS Battered Women's Support Services

January 19, 2022

Women’s organizations denounce VPD spin on arrest outside women’s center; renew calls for real safety in face of increasing gender-based violence

(Xʷməθkʷəy̓ əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱ wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil- Waututh)/Vancouver, B.C – Women’s organizations in the Downtown Eastside renew calls for community-led safety following an arrest made outside the Downtown Eastside Women’s Center.

The calls for action come after the Vancouver Police Department sent a press release on January 17, sharing details of an arrest made near the Women’s Center where a man wielding a knife attempted to enter.

“It was our staff’s quick actions, experience, and training, not police action, that kept women safe from any potential harm, and we reject the VPD attempting to turn this into a media opportunity to look like heroes” said Executive Director of the Downtown Eastside Women’s Center, Alice Kendall. “In their own press release, the VPD acknowledge that the man had already dropped the knife and walked away”.

Women’s organizations in the DTES continue to see sexualized and gender-based violence daily. Women and front-line staff respond and deal with, aggressive and violent predators and incidents that often remain unreported. When police say, “many violent crimes go unreported in the Downtown Eastside,” this is a painfully long-standing and well-known fact to women and women’s organizations. Fear of further retaliation, or of repercussion due to engagement in criminalized and stigmatized activities such as sex work or drug use, is real and extremely harmful.

The VPD’s press release is particularly egregious given that every day we witness how current policing practices, such as coordinated street sweeps, do not contribute to women’s safety and just waste municipal resources. “We also witness how ongoing disappearances and reports of missing women, particularly Indigenous women and girls, muster grossly inadequate responses from the VPD and RCMP. Despite a provincial inquiry and a national inquiry into the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, trans and two-spirit people, there is no recognizable change in policing practices nor adequate supports for communities and families who are searching for their loved ones.” further states Kendall.

The Downtown Eastside Women’s Center, along with the WISH Drop-In Centre Society, Battered Women’s Support Services, and Atira Women’s Resource Society, are renewing calls for a community-led coordinated response. One year after expressing outrage of the ongoing sexualized and gender-based violence in the neighbourhood and no discernible outcome, we are once again calling on all levels of government for an action plan.

Access to safe spaces has been significantly reduced during the pandemic, with many spaces remaining closed or operating at reduced capacity. This is exacerbating the already existing, overlapping crises of homelessness, a deadly drug supply, worsening health conditions, lack of access to basic needs, and increased gender-based violence.

While there are multiple reports and recommendations, what continues to be absent is a coordinated and robust response to a shadow pandemic that pre-existed COVID: gender- based violence in the Downtown Eastside.



Battered Women’s Support Services
Angela Marie MacDougall, Executive Director
604 808 0507
[email protected]


WISH Drop-In Centre Society
Mebrat Beyene, Executive Director 604 836 6464
604-669-9474 (Ext. 124)
[email protected]


Atira Women’s Resource Society
Janice Abbott, CEO
(604) 813 0851
[email protected]


Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre
Alice Kendall, Executive Director
[email protected]


Download the full press release PDF here: Women’s organizations denounce VPD spin on arrest outside women’s center

BWSS Expresses Concerns to Federal Government about Jordan Framework

​This week, Battered Women’s Support Services wrote to the federal Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, David Lametti to express our ongoing concerns with respect to the Jordan framework, and its implications for gender-based violence and femicide.


You can download and read our letter here >


About the Jordan Framework

 On July 8th, 2016, in a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Jordan introduced a new analytical framework for determining whether an accused has been tried within a reasonable time. The Court made clear that an accused’s right to be tried within a reasonable time is pursuant to Section 11(b) of the Charter. Section 11(b) of the Charter states that “Any person charged with an offence has the right to be tried within a reasonable time.” R. v. Jordan out forward some hard limits on ‘reasonable time:’ 18 months for one-stage provincial court trials and 30 months for two-stage superior court trials, counted from the date of Crown Counsel charging until the completion of trial. Any delays beyond this are presumptively unreasonable and will result in a stay of charges unless the Crown can establish the presence of exceptional circumstances or particularly complex matters.

The Jordan decision is a necessary indictment of a criminal legal system that is plagued with structural delays. Delays in the criminal legal system, including for many racialized women and gender-diverse people who face arrest and criminalization, lengthens the period of stress and stigma from having unresolved criminal charges. Delays going to trial can also mean that defendants have prolonged bail conditions that might restrict their movement and ability to associate with others. The Jordan framework ensures that institutional delays, such as chronic understaffing and legal aid cuts, do not unfairly affect defendants and people who are routinely criminalized. Indigenous women, for example, make up nearly 50 percent of the federal prison population, and the Jordan framework is one small way to disrupt the criminalizing pipeline to prison for Indigenous, Black, racialized, and poor people.

However, the Jordan framework is a blunt instrument, and it also has an adverse impact on survivors of gender-based violence who use the criminal legal system for redress. The criminal legal system does not provide the best path to safety and healing for all survivors, however it does remain an important recourse to many. Rates of gender-based violence continue to climb, including against Indigenous, Black, and racialized women, femmes and gender-diverse people. The pandemic has exacerbated gender-based violence, with 32 percent of Canadians reporting increased domestic violence, and crisis lines, like BWSS’s own hotline, reporting 400 percent increase in calls.

As Simon Lapierre, one of the founding members of the Feminist Anti-Violence (FemAnVi) Research Collective, writes:

“It is unfortunate indeed that the Court failed to address the implications of its decision in Jordan for crimes of violence against women… Nuance, complexity and commitment are needed urgently. The leadership gap left by the Court must be filled by federal and provincial legislators and attorneys general, in consultation with the independent women’s movement. Now is not the time to abandon such hard-earned gains for women who experience this form of violence.”


The Impacts of the Jordan Framework on Survivors

Since 2018, BWSS has been monitoring and researching the impacts of the Jordan framework on gender-based violence.

Importantly, BWSS also conducted our own survey to assess how the Jordan decision has influenced the choices made by police and the Crown with respect to carrying out investigations and pressing charges, and how this has impacted victims of gender-based violence offences.

In a review of cases stayed under the Jordan framework, BWSS’s Research and Policy team have found that its use has appeared to favour perpetrators of gender-based violence. Across 140 cases reviewed in this study, we have found that between 2016 and 2020, defence counsel has invoked R. v. Jordan tactically, arguing for a stay of proceedings to help their clients escape culpability. The Jordan framework must not be used to escape accountability for systemic violence.

Nearly half a decade following R. v. Jordan, hundreds of cases have been stayed due to routine delays, including numerous cases (such as here, here, here, and here just from the past year) involving violence against women and homicide. Many survivors of gender-based violence have found themselves further victimized by Jordan-related stays, legal proceedings that have little regard for survivors’ need for justice, accountability, or safety.

Canada’s political and legal institutions are built on gendered racism and colonialism – dispossessing Indigenous peoples of their land, subjugating women, and enforcing enslavement. The criminal legal system – including the web of police, Crown attorneys, and the judicial system – routinely fails survivors. Many survivors fear being blamed, stereotyped, or disbelieved when engaging the criminal legal system. The system reproduces a power differential between survivors, the people who abuse them, and the legal system. Further, given that survivors are not afforded an independent voice or legal standing in criminal legal proceedings, their participation towards “achieving reasonable prompt justice” – as set out in R v. Jordan – is illusory.

The Jordan framework creates another reason for survivors to fear re-victimization by our judiciary system and entrenches patriarchal dominance. For example, upon learning that the BC Court of Appeal had upheld a Jordan-related stay of proceedings against the man who was convicted of abusing her as a child, Jeeti Pooni told media, “It was very disheartening, disappointing — you name it — when one has spoken their truth, testified and there’s a guilty verdict, and then you receive this news.” The Court itself acknowledged “A stay of proceedings in these circumstances marks a failure of the justice system.”

Changes to the judiciary system are urgently needed to offer viable paths to survivors like Jeeti Pooni. If the federal government is serious about combating gender-based violence and femicide, it needs to change the system that prevents effective and timely access to justice for survivors.

BWSS Expresses Concerns to Federal Government about Jordan Framework

Three new job opportunities at BWSS

Job opportunities at BWSS

New job opportunities at BWSS

Apply to work with us

BWSS is a feminist ending violence organization with an entrepreneurial spirit known its commitment to creating and implementing programs and services that empower women from all walks of life.

We’re on a mission to end gender based violence. For over 40 years we’ve walked alongside women, providing advocacy, amplifying resilience and resistance, and we’re just getting started.

We are committed to doing the work and putting survivors at the centre. A mission like ours needs a perspective like yours, that’s what makes us stronger.

If you seek the opportunity to commit to an organization engaged in making a real difference in the lives of children and women in our community, please apply to work with us!


The following job opportunities are currently open at BWSS:
  • Education and Training Program Co-ordinator
  • Indigenous Women’s Support Worker
  • Women’s Support Worker

BWSS is known for its inclusionary hiring practices. We offer the opportunity to work within an accomplished team making a difference every day on the frontline and beyond.

Two Events for the 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-based Violence

As part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence and our new multi-year Colour of Violence project, Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) is thrilled to invite you to two upcoming events and to participate in our survey centering racialized survivors.
Youth Survivors and Dating Violence: Let’s all Recognize the Signs
Event Nov 25th 

Youth Survivors and Dating Violence – Let’s all Recognize the Signs

To launch the international campaign 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence and to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25, 2021, we are delighted to invite you to this event.

Eternity Martis is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author

This event features Eternity Martis – Eternity Martis is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author whose debut memoir, They Said This Would Be Fun, was a “Best Book of the Year” pick by Globe and Mail, Apple, Audible, and Chapters/Indigo. CBC called the book one of “20 moving Canadian memoirs to read right now” and PopSugar named it one of “5 Books About Race on College Campuses Every Student Should Read.” This year, They Said This Would Be Fun won the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize for Non-Fiction.

Intimate partner violence in high school and on university campuses is an everyday occurrence—still, there is so little recognition of the prevalence and very little discussion about it.

Eternity Martis’ keynote will highlight the prevalence of dating violence, the experiences of young women, femmes, and non-binary people, and what high schools and universities can do to address it.

Also read this important thread by Eternity Martis for last year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women:

Save the date and join Battered Women’s Support Services for a webinar
Event Dec 9th

Race, Gender, and Anti-Violence Services

We are thrilled to invite you to a powerhouse online discussion with Black, Indigenous, immigrant/refugee, and racialized women on race, gender and anti-violence services on December 9, 2021.

This event will feature speakers Audrey Huntley, Sarah Jama, Farrah Khan, Elene Lam, Kelendria Nation and Andrea Ritchie, with a territorial welcome by Cecilia Point and moderated by Angela Marie MacDougall and Leslie Varley.

More information and registration at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-colour-of-violence-gender-race-and-anti-violence-services-registration-208296007967

Survey Nov 1 – Dec 9th

Have you taken our brief, anonymous survey?

We recently launched a short, anonymous survey focusing on issues of accessibility, safety, and the structural barriers of anti-violence services in British Columbia for Black, Indigenous, immigrant/refugee, and women and gender-diverse survivors of colour.

This is a completely anonymous survey with no identifying information collected that will take less than 15 minutes to fill out with 11 questions. 

Anyone who does the survey can enter a draw for $50-gift certificates to My Sisters Closet.


We are seeking the participation of those who are:

  • Black, Indigenous, immigrant/refugee, racialized
  • Identify as a cisgender or transgender woman or femme, or as a gender diverse person
  • Live in BC
  • Are 19+


The survey can be completed in different ways between November 1 and December 9, 2021:

  1. Available online: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BWSSColourofViolence
  2. Hard copies of the survey will also be available at BWSS’s Vancouver office and at both My Sister’s Closet locations. These surveys can be returned in the labelled survey return boxes at the BWSS front desk and at both My Sister’s Closet locations.
  3. There are PDF’s available for download in English, Spanish, Punjabi, Tagalog, French, Simplified Chinese, Vietnamese, and Farsi at: https://www.bwss.org/colour-of-violence/. Completed PDF copies can be emailed to [email protected] or call 604-616-7528 to arrange return.
Take the colour of violence survey to end Gender-based Violence

National Day of Action on Missing and Murdered Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People

Join us on Monday, October 4, 2021 from 6 pm to 8 pm for a special gathering co-hosted by Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre and Battered Women’s Support Services on the National Day of Action on Missing and Murdered Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People.

National Day of Action on Missing and Murdered Women Girls and Two-Spirit People
National Day of Action on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Girls and Two-Spirit People

October 4th is a day when we honour the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people, support grieving families, create opportunities for action and healing.

BWSS and DEWC are convening a night to honour our Indigenous women warriors, grassroots and frontline workers in the downtown eastside neighborhood and Vancouver region who have dedicated their lives to raising awareness, holding to account, and demanding action on MMIWG.

Join us for:

Territorial welcome by women from our host nations –  Mary Point, Carla George, Deborah Baker, Carleen Thomas.

Followed by speakers who will talk about the frontline work on MMIWG for the last 30 years, with performances by Nisga’a dancers, wildflower women of turtle Island, and the big drum.

For more information email [email protected] or call 604-687-1867

Intersectional Feminist Justice Research and Organizing Collaborative (IFJROC) expands Battered Women’s Support Services’ Research and Policy Division.

The Intersectional Feminist Justice Research and Organizing Collaborative expands Battered Women’s Support Services’ Research and Policy Division with the new Gender Equity Learning & Knowledge Exchange.

We are proud to announce the expansion of our Gender Equity Learning & Knowledge Exchange, the Research and Policy Division of Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS). This new section of BWSS strengthens our impact by mobilizing community-based experiences and evidence-informed resources from an intersectional, anti-oppressive, feminist and critical race theory, analysis, and practice.

As part of the Gender Equity Learning & Knowledge Exchange, the recently formed Intersectional Feminist Justice Research and Organizing Collaborative (IFJROC) aims to democratize data, research and policy. It maximizes the synergy between research and community organizing, magnifies the voices of grassroots Indigenous, Black and communities of colour, including Migrant, Refugee and Immigrant communities. It also advances the capacity of organizing efforts to design solutions, make demands, and sustain policy wins for gender equity and ending gender-based violence.

The growing team will be led by a newly appointed Manager of Research and Policy, Harsha Walia, who has a long standing reputation of impactful work in these spaces. She is joined by Melody Yin Yun Wise as Research and Policy Analyst.

Learn more about IFJROC and our work here.

Gender Equity Learning and Knowledge Exchange