November 20th Transgender Day of Remembrance

Rita Hester, a Black transgender woman, was murdered in Allston, Massachusetts on November 28, 1998. In response to her murder, an outpouring of grief and anger led to a candlelight vigil. Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) was started in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honour the memory of Rita Hester. The vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence since Rita Hester’s death, and began an important tradition that has become the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.

“Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence. I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost. With so many seeking to erase transgender people — sometimes in the most brutal ways possible — it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice.” – Transgender Day of Remembrance founder Gwendolyn Ann Smith

If you’re in Vancouver, the Transgender Day of Remembrance will be commemorated during an event hosted by Vancouver Trans Day of Remembrance and Coalition Against Trans Antagonism on Friday, November 20th at 6 pm at Jim Deva Plaza. Facebook event and to live-stream.

Support our local trans community

UNYA’s Two Spirit collective – an organization that provides programs and services to Indigenous youth who identify as LGBTQ2S
Flamingo Market – an online artisan market with creations by and entrepreneurs who are LGBTQ2S
BoundAries Leather – a Vancouver-based queer & trans owned leather shop
Van Vogue Jam – a Vancouver-based organization that provides vogue classes

Recommended trans awareness reading
  1. ZOM-FAM by Kama La Mackerel
  2. it was never going to be okay by jaye simpson
  3. Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian) by Hazel Jane Plante
  4. Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir by Kai Cheng Thom
  5. The Subtweet by Vivek Shraya
  6. Disintegrate/Dissociate by Arielle Twist
  7. Beyond the Gender Binary by Alok Vaid-Menon
  8. Trans-Galactic Bike Ride edited by Lydia Rogue
  9. Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics by Trace Peterson and TC Tolbert
  10. Little Fish by Casey Plett
  11. Trans Power by Juno Roche

*compiled by Massy Books

Resources for trans people who are experiencing abuse

*If you are experiencing abuse, we can help. Call 604-687-1867 or email

Police Complain About the Time it Takes to Investigate Domestic Violence During COVID 19

The Vancouver Police Department released a new report with crime statistics for the first nine months of the year. The report compares January to September 2020 to the same time period. This report will be tabled at the next meeting of the Vancouver Police Board, Thursday, October 29.

The report included comments that could be interpreted as opinions that could give insight in the organizational culture at the Vancouver Police Department.  

Under Violent Crimes, the statistics on sexual violence were reported as “positive results”. This is incorrect, as we know at BWSS, it’s well established that sexual violence is rarely reported to the police. Later in the report, the statement is made “Sexual offences are often reported historically…” which is in direct opposition to their notion of “positive results”.

During the same reporting period, BWSS received more reports of sexual violence this year than we did the previous year. Our interpretation is a confirmation that victims prefer to contact community-based organizations rather than police.

According to the VPD statistics they received 4.6% increase in domestic violence calls which is somewhat consistent with what has been seen all around the world. However, it appears that more women have been seeking a community-based response and not the police. For instance, BWSS saw a 415% increase compared to last year during the same period.

The next piece we want to comment on, we find quite troubling, bordering on offensive. Where in the second statement under Intimate Partner Violence the VPD reports that domestic violence files are  “are very time-consuming for patrol officer…,” when is it appropriate for an agency responsible for law enforcement that purports to care about victims safety to provide an opinion such as this?

It continues, “…often consuming an entire shift”. When we have no information on how much it takes investigating other forms of criminal activity. We’ve heard from someone who was ticketed for jaywalking that took three days to investigate. We note that this is the only comment made in the entire report on investigated crimes.

This kind of value judgment that is included from the Vancouver Police Department to the Vancouver Police Board gives us a clear indication that there’s been an erosion in police response to gender-based violence in Vancouver. However, during COVID 19 women we have worked with who have chosen to report domestic violence to the police describe having difficulty reaching the police, getting callbacks from the police and lack of status of the report. Moreover, on a daily basis our crisis team, in virtually every instance, advocates on behalf of women for an effective response from police. That in our experience in the majority of stats the advocacy from the BWSS team goes on longer than an “entire shift”.

 The release of this report is very interesting, we understand advocacy groups seeking racial justice have tabled a request that the Vancouver Police Board reduce funding to the VPD and reinvest that in community-based response.

Please watch Angela Marie MacDougall who spoke to Global TV last night regarding the VPD report.

More from the report

Violent crime levels for 2020 are similar to 2019. In 2019, there was a 10.4 percent increase in violent crime during the same reporting period when compared to the previous year. An analysis of 2020 violent crime incidents shows that:

  • the number of homicides is higher than last year – 14 in 2020 versus nine in 2019;
  • Sexual offences reported in 2020 decreased 5.2% versus 2019 (for offences that occurred in 2020 compared to those that occurred in 2019, sexual offences decreased by 14.1%)”
  • the most serious assaults – assault with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm, and aggravated assault –  have increased by 14.1 percent over the previous year, while all assaults increased by nearly two per cent;
  • intimate partner violence is 4.6 per cent higher than 2019 (all time highest recorded incidence of intimate partner violence);
  • anti-Asian hate crime incidents have increased by 138 per cent;
  • sexual offences reported to police have decreased by 5.2 percent;
  • robberies have decreased by 6.1 percent; and
  • assaults against police officers have gone up 47 percent and over the past five years assaults against police officers have increased 86 percent.

Six in ten girls surveyed in Canada have experienced online abuse and harassment

A recent global survey of 14,000 girls aged 15–25 in 22 countries including Canada, showed that more than half (58 percent), have been harassed or abused online. In Canada, the results are even higher at 62 percent. The report, titled Free to be online? Girls’ and young women’s experiences of online harassment shows how significant social media is in young people’s lives and how online abuse disempowers girls by shutting them out of a space widely used for activism, entertainment, learning, and to keep in touch with friends and family.

To deal with online harassment, 19 percent of the girls surveyed in Canada stated that they would stop posting content that expresses their opinion. Eight percent said they would quit the social media platform on which the harassment happened. Almost half of those surveyed (48 percent) would choose to ignore the harassment, while 37 percent would choose to report/block the harasser or increase their privacy settings. While social media platforms offer some technical solutions, including reporting and escalation mechanisms, and monitor content on their platforms, significant changes must come into effect to protect girls.


More from the survey: 

  • Of the respondents who have been abused online, nearly 60% said they’ve experienced insulting language, followed by targeted humiliation (41%) body shaming (39%) and threats of sexual violence (39%).
  • More than half of respondents from the LGBTQ+ community said they’d been harassed for their sexual orientation or gender identity, and nearly 40% who are part of an ethnic minority have faced attacks on their ethnicity or race.
  • Respondents said Facebook is the leading platform for attacks — 39% said they’ve faced abuse on it — followed by Instagram (23%), WhatsApp (14%), Snapchat (10%), Twitter (9%) and TikTok (6%).
  • One in five survey respondents said they or a friend had felt their physical safety was in danger because of internet abuse, and many reported it took a toll on their mental health (38%), lowered their self-esteem (39%) and created issues at school (18%).

We know it is hard to speak up.  We also know how hard it is to face abuse alone. We want all girls to know there is a confidential and safe place to talk and learn more about their experience of abuse.

Need support? Call BWSS 24/ 7 Crisis and Intake Line 1.855.687.1868


Click here to register!

When: Thursday, October 22, 2020, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Where: Zoom

This event is free of charge and open to members and non-members, we ask that non-members please register by 5 PM Tuesday, October 22 by emailing

Once you’ve registered, you can expect us to send you a confidential meeting link via the email you’ve provided at registration.


Welcome and Land Acknowledgement
Call to Order

BWSS Board of Directors

Cecilia Point

Jennifer Johnstone

Jennifer Mackie

Dawn Johnson

Niki Sharma

Do you have any accessibility requests/needs? If so, please email and we will do our best to fulfill all requests.

While only current BWSS Society Members are eligible to vote at the AGM, a donation of any amount qualifies you to become a Society Member. Please email to confirm your membership status and/or to become a member by 5 PM on October 20, 2020.


Summer-Rain, Manager, Indigenous Women’s Program 

Summer-Rain, or traditional name white wolf women, is from the Gitxsan nation from the raven house and the raven clan. She is also Coast Salish from the Squamish Nation. These beautiful lands and territories she works, plays, and lives on every day are her homelands. Currently, Summer-Rain is the Manager of the Indigenous Women’s Program at Battered Women Support Services and a Legal Advocate. She has dedicated her life and work on the front lines, in the DTES, or in grassroots anti-violence organizations working to end violence against women and girls with a particular focus on Indigenous Women and Girls for the past 17 years. Currently, she is the chair of the DTES Women’s Center board of directors and recently joined the West Coast Leaf Indigenous advisory committee.  Summer-Rain lives and breathes every day as a strong Indigenous warrior on our front lines.



Mayra Albuquerque, Legal Advocate 

Mayra emigrated from Peru in 2015 where she was a Corporate and Civil Litigation Lawyer for 5 years. In 2017, she joined the Violence Prevention & Intervention Training at Battered Women’s Support Services and was part of the crisis line & intake services where she provided emotional support and safety planning for survivors of violence and give legal information and resources regarding Family, Immigration, and Criminal Law matters. She provided this support and legal information, from a decolonizing and intersectional feminist analysis of violence against women. Mayra will be starting the Master in Common Law at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Mayra currently works as a Family and Immigration Legal Advocate at BWSS where she helps survivors of violence with their family law matters such as child support, spousal support, divorce, protection order, parenting arrangements, etc. She also helps women with their applications for Refugee or Humanitarian and Compassionate claims. Mayra provides services in both English and Spanish.


Theresa Thomas, Women’s Counsellor 

Theresa is committed to helping people achieve freedom from systemic and societal oppression in every capacity. Since moving to Vancouver in 2012 Theresa has been focused on learning the origins and impacts of trauma. Theresa’s therapeutic focus is on trauma intervention, freedom from abuse, substance misuse, and achieving empowerment using largely narrative therapeutic techniques. Theresa has an MCP in Counselling Psychology and is currently an STV counsellor at Battered Women’s Support Services, and coordinates the BWSS Black Women’s Program. Theresa was born and raised in Houston, Texas.


Rosa Elena Arteaga, Manager, Direct Services and Clinical Practice

Rosa Elena Arteaga has been working in the anti-violence field for over twenty years delivering workshops on violence against self-identified girls and women and providing training to service providers at the national and international level. In her role as Manager of Direct Services and Clinical Practice, she oversees a number of programs within BWSS. Since 2008, Rosa Elena has researched and addressed the issue of battered women being wrongfully arrested and has been successful with a number of police complaints. Rosa Elena holds a Master’s degree in Narrative Therapy and Community Work and she works from a decolonizing, feminist, anti-oppression, practice.



National Day of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, Trans, and Two-Spirit People

Unceded lands of xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations/Vancouver, BC) – Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) is in solidarity with Indigenous families, communities, and survivors in honour of all of the lives of our murdered and disappeared Indigenous women, girls, trans, and Two-Spirit people whose lives have been taken by acts of violence: more often than not, acts of violence committed by men. Too many families and communities have been affected by the epidemic of violence against Indigenous women, girls, trans, and Two-Spirit people. Today and every day, we ask all of our staff, volunteers, and allies to stand in solidarity with us.

Violence against Indigenous women, girls, trans, and Two-Spirit people is deeply rooted in Canada’s history, and will continue to do so until the lives of Indigenous women, girls, trans and Two-Spirit people are no longer considered disposable. It will continue to be rooted in Canada’s history until the demands for justice for murdered and disappeared Indigenous women, girls, trans, and Two-Spirit people are answered, are pursued, are believed, are investigated, are tried and convicted.

Indigenous women and girls in Canada have been murdered or have gone missing at a rate five times higher than their rate of representation in Canada. And yet, Canada still has done nothing.

Calls for recommendations made over the last decade continue to sit on a shelf and go unanswered. Because of this failure, Indigenous women and girls are 12 times more likely to be murdered or go missing, and are eight times more likely to face abuse, than non-Indigenous women.

Along with the state failure to protect Indigenous women, girls, trans, and Two-Spirit people, the criminal justice system also continues to fail them. Cases of murdered or disappeared Indigenous women are far more likely to go uninvestigated, and unsolved. As a matter of fact, not only do they go unsolved—they are ignored, dismissed and in closed cases, with no answers or answers that are absurd.

The following three points are an adaptation from the Red Women Rising Report. BWSS is in complete solidarity and supports these calls to actions that can immediately be implemented at a provincial and federal level.

  1. Violence against Indigenous women and girls is a violation of inherent, constitutional, and internationally protected Indigenous rights. Implementation of the united Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people (UNDRIP) at all levels of government, assertion of Indigenous title over lands and jurisdiction over law-making, and restoration of collective Indigenous women’s rights and governance is the only meaningful way to end this violence.
  1. Increased state enforcement alone cannot eliminate violence against Indigenous women and girls because structural violence is connected to individual acts of male violence. A comprehensive plan to end violence against Indigenous women must address socio-economic factors including equitable access to self-determination over land, culture, language, housing, child care, income security, employment, education, and physical, mental, and spiritual health.
  1. Indigenous women are not silent victims or stereotypes. Indigenous women come from diverse nations and families, and have unique stories and dreams. Indigenous women in the DTES are all leaders who contribute countless hours to the community and will never stop fighting for justice. Any policies, services, and solutions must be based on Indigenous women’s collective input and leadership.

Violence against Indigenous women, girls, trans, and Two-Spirit people are at epidemic levels. Canada is in a state of crisis and should be ashamed as to how little they have done to value, honour, respect, and protects the lives of Indigenous women, girls, trans, and Two-Spirit people. Despite this, the resistance and resilience of Indigenous women, girls, trans and Two-Spirit people have been louder and bolder than ever.

Here’s to honouring each other’s unique stories and preventing erasure in a world that is committed to their disappearance; to reconnecting and protecting the lands; and to continuing the fight for justice.

Wildflower Women of Turtle Island Drum Group shares the Strong Women’s Song with each and every one of you. This song comes from one of our sisters who was in PWD4 Solitary Confinement in the Kingston Penitentiary. She sang this song for strength. And today that is the message we want to share with you: The message of strength, of survival, of never giving up.

Time to Thrive: Join Thriving

Thrive is one of our programs at BWSS that is carefully-designed to support the diverse needs of women with lived experience in sex economies in setting and achieving their goals.

Thrive offers a non-judgmental space where participants can meet one-on-one with a support worker to explore trauma and coping, build healthy coping tools, develop their support system and/or explore options for meeting their everyday needs including: housing, legal advocacy, treatment, clothing, emergency shelter, safety planning, support groups, and many other goals.

We have a new workshop that will help you thrive!

Thriving is a safe, confidential place for women with experience in sex economies to build community and empowerment every Thursday evening from 6 to 8 pm starting on Thursday, October 22, 2020.

A $20 gift card will be provided to each participant after every workshop.

What you can look forward to:

  • Week 1 – Visioning
  • Week 2 – Goal setting
  • Week 3 – Building safety and community
  • Week 4 – Traditional healing ceremonies and practices
  • Week 5 – Trauma-informed healing practises and tools
  • Week 6 – Social wellness: Rights and self-advocacy
  • Week 7 – Healthy relationships: Myself and others
  • Week 8 – Economic resources
  • Week 9 – Exploring volunteering, educational, and employment opportunities
  • Week 10 – Reflecting and celebrating

To join Thriving:

Please contact Brooklyn by phone or text 604-808-4378 or by email

Please help us get the word out — share this poster today!