BWSS Joins Chelsea Poorman’s Family, Indigenous, and Community Organizations to Demand VPD Investigation

Battered Women Support Services Joins Chelsea Poorman’s Family, Indigenous, and Community Organizations to Demand VPD Investigation

Battered Women Support Services Joins Chelsea Poorman’s Family, Indigenous, and Community Organizations to Demand VPD Investigation

(Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil Waututh)/Vancouver, B.C. – May 13, 2022) – Battered Women Support Services (BWSS) joins the family of Chelsea Poorman and Indigenous nations across these lands demanding accountability from the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) for their gross and appalling mishandling of Chelsea Poorman’s disappearance and tragic death. The VPD recently announced at a press conference that the death of 24-year Chelsea Poorman, a member of the Kawacatoose First Nation in Saskatchewan living in Vancouver and missing since September of 2020, was “not suspicious.”

Says Kirstin Scansen-Isbister, Research, and Policy Analyst at BWSS, “We send our heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones of Chelsea Poorman. We join in anger and grief with the Kawacatoose First NationFederation of Sovereign Indigenous NationsUnion of BC Indian Chiefs, and BC First Nations Justice Council who are all condemning VPD’s inaction, challenging the VPD’s decision to deem Chelsea’s death ‘not suspicious,’ and are calling for a full VPD investigation into her death. Frustration is mounting about police inaction in cases of violence against women, and especially violence against Indigenous women. Our communities know that the RCMP and VPD have failed Indigenous women and their families on far too many occasions.”

For the past year and a half, Chelsea Poorman’s family have been searching for her, with very little support from the VPD who waited ten days before announcing her initial disappearance in 2020. This week her family revealed that, sadly, her body was found in Vancouver’s Shaughnessy neighbourhood with her remains not intact. Sheila Poorman, mother of Chelsea Poorman, has told media “We’re going to fight for Chelsea and we’re going to fight for the truth and what happened to her. We’re not going to sit by and let them say it’s not suspicious and there’s no foul play.”

According to BWSS Executive Director, Angela Marie MacDougall, “The VPD’s inexcusable inaction into the death of Chelsea Poorman flies in the face of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people and the 231 Calls for Justice. In British Columbia, the 2012 provincial Report of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry clearly lays out that missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls were consistently ‘forsaken’ by the VPD for decades.”

Twelve years ago, 22-year-old Cree woman Ashley Machiskinic plunged to her death from the Regent Hotel in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Seconds later, her shoes were tossed out, yet the VPD ruled her death as a suicide. Amidst the provincial Pickton inquiry, protests to reopen the investigation into Machiskinic’s death, and an occupation of the VPD building leading to arrests of three women, the VPD created the SisterWatch Program to combat violence against women in the DTES. “From the tragic death of Ashley Machiskinic to the tragic death of Chelsea Poorman, we see that nothing has changed in the VPD’s response. Programs like SisterWatch amount to public relations; systemic racist misogyny is still pervasive in the VPD. The VPD must be held accountable for failing to uphold their own stated commitments to end violence against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people,” says MacDougall.

“This is a clear display of the VPD’s apathy towards our precious Indigenous sisters that go disproportionately missing in Canada on a daily basis,” further states Michelle LaBoucane, Indigenous Women’s Counsellor at Battered Women’s Support Services. “Why was important information from Chelsea’s family never properly followed up on the VPD? Why did her family’s many questions go unanswered and why did they receive such little support from the VPD during the investigation? We know that if Chelsea was a white woman, this investigation would have taken a very different turn. This investigation has been botched and not taken seriously right from the beginning. This is why we, as Indigenous people, need to have our own community-based investigative teams working to find our own people when they go missing. My heart and prayers go out to Chelsea’s loved ones, and that they find answers and justice.”

Concludes Lavita Trimble, Indigenous Women’s Counsellor at Battered Women’s Support Service, “I am enraged that we are in 2022 with a national crisis of thousands of missing and murdered indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people, and authorities continue to neglect and dismiss cases of violence against Indigenous women. How could this young woman be missing for 2 years, be found with half her skull and fingers missing, and have her death labeled as ‘not suspicious’ by the VPD? What more would it take to force the VPD to label this death as suspicious?  This is utterly shameful; yet this is the reality of the condition of oppression, violence, and fear under which Indigenous peoples in Canada live. I demand to know: When will we be respected as people, and when will we not be disposable?”



Angela Marie MacDougall, BWSS Executive Director: 604-808-0507

Open Letter: National Coalition Declares Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples

June 10, 2021

The Honourable Carolyn Bennet, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services

Government of Canada


Dear Ministers,

On behalf of national, regional and local gender justice and human rights organizations, we are in solidarity with the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation and all First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Peoples and honour the memory of the 215 children whose remains were found at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia. Our hearts are with residential school survivors, their families and all the children who never returned to the homes from which they were taken.

We condemn the genocide enacted by the Canadian government that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls both found Canada responsible for. As feminist intersectional gender justice organizations, we are firmly against the colonial project that is Canada – established on continued actions that break treaties, steal lands and wreak violence on First Nations, Métis, and Inuit women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people – and the eugenic practices that seek to erase the First Peoples of Turtle Island.

We understand that the truths of this past week are not historical but an ongoing violent reality and a stark reminder that all settlers across Canada must act on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action and the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls 231 Calls for Justice. We call on the federal government to take immediate and concrete action, beginning with implementation of the TRC calls to action 71 through 76 on the Missing Children and Burial Information. This process must be led by the First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities affected, and we follow their direction, but we also must demand that the government address the process of uncovering and investigating the sites of burials with seriousness and respect. They must be treated with appropriate care and spiritual attention as the precious remains of families and communities. It is of national importance that in their entirety, all remains are considered as evidence of trauma and genocide that will be addressed legally.

There are serious gaps in the processes and invisibilization within the National Action Plan for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). It does not recognize disabilities as a part of women’s’ identities and lacks actions to support them. And at different stages, it has failed to include Métis women as well as 2SLGBTQQIA+ peoples. Until these omissions are addressed, planned action on implementation will fail women, girls, 2SLGBTQQIA+ made increasingly vulnerable by these gaps.

Reconciliation is not a passive action but rather one that requires active disruption of colonial practices entrenched in policy and legislation, which continue to harm generations of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. Reconciliation means pursuing justice for Indigenous communities on all fronts.

This includes the speedy passage of Bill C-15 to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the government of Canada. Canada must also put into action all mechanisms needed to fully implement Bill S-3, register the 270,000 First Nations women and their descendants who are now entitled to status, and eliminate all remaining sex-based discrimination from the Indian Act. The government must immediately stop litigating against all First Nations, Métis and Inuit children.

In 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal found that inequities in Canada’s child welfare services created incentives to remove First Nations children from their homes, families and communities. Dr Marie Wilson, a witness before the CHRT and a former Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, described the harms experienced by First Nations children because of Canada’s underfunding of child welfare services to be comparable to those experienced by survivors of Residential Schools. Canada must immediately comply with the ruling of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordering an end to discrimination against First Nations children in the delivery of child welfare services on reserves and fully implementing The Spirit Bear Plan to end inequalities across all public services. Currently, there are more First Nations, Métis, and Inuit in the child welfare system than there were during the Residential School era.

Canada has been called to act again and again by the First Peoples of Turtle Island, to respect treaties, to move on the recommendations of inquiries, to take concrete steps to change the ongoing racism, misogyny and ableism that is at the heart of the settler colonial project of nation building. We must act. As national, regional and local gender justice and human rights organizations, we are calling for immediate action, not in times of acute need, but in constant reference to the harms being done to First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.

We will continue to work towards reconciliation by following the leads of Indigenous governments, communities and partners to work in solidarity and honour the memory of lives lost and harmed.

Signed by:

Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
Battered Women’s Support Services
Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Canadian Council of Muslim Women
Canadian Federation of University Women
Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women / L’Institut canadien de recherches sur les femmes CRIAW-ICREF
Canadian Women’s Foundation / Fondation canadienne des femmes
Child Care Now / Un Enfant Une Place
Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic
Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice
Colour of Poverty Colour of Change
Disability Justice Network of Ontario
DisAbled Women’s Network of Canada / Réseau d’action des femmes handicapées du Canada
Feminists Deliver
Keepers of the Circle
National Association of Women and the Law / L’Association nationale Femmes et Droit
National Council of Women of Canada
New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity
OCASI-Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants
Oxfam Canada
South-Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario
The Enchanté Network
West Coast LEAF
Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) / Fonds d’action et d’éducation juridique pour les femmes (FAEJ)
Women’s National Housing and Homelessness Network
Women’s Shelters Canada / Hébergement femmes Canada

Cc The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister
The Honorable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Women and Gender Equality


Support and Resources

National, toll-free 24/7 crisis call lines providing support for anyone who requires emotional assistance related to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. You can also access long-term health support services such as mental health counselling, community-based emotional support and cultural services and some travel costs to see Elders and traditional healers.

  • For immediate emotional assistance: 1-866-925-4419
  • Support line for those affected by missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, Two Spirit and LGBTQQIA+ people: 1-844-413-6649
  • Indigenous Crisis Responder for youth (24 hours/ 7 days per week); 1-880-668-6868, text 686868
  • Indian Residential School Survivors Society Provides various forms of counselling, health and cultural support, and cultural services to residential school survivors, their families, and those dealing with intergenerational traumas.
  • The KUU-US Crisis Line Society The KUU-US Crisis Line Society is a non-profit registered charity that provides 24-hour crisis services through education, prevention and intervention programs.
  • Assaulted Women’s Helpline CRISIS LINE

GTA 416.863.0511
GTA TTY 416.364.8762
TOLL-FREE 1.866.863.0511
TOLL-FREE TTY 1.866.863.7868
#SAFE (#7233) on your Bell, Rogers, Fido or Telus mobile phone
Seniors Safety Line 1-866-299-1011

  • FEM’AIDE : 1.877.336.2433 &1.866.860.7082 (ATS)
  • SOS Violence conjugale (in Quebec): 1-800-363-9010


If you would like to show support for survivors of the Residential system, and any Indigenous women and gender-diverse people that are facing gender-based violence, you can donate directly to Indigenous-led organizations that are supporting residential school survivors and their families along with language revitalization, cultural and land-based initiatives.

You can find a grassroots organization in your community to donate to or consider donating to the following:

  • New Friendship Centre for the Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society Provides and promotes culturally based, inclusive programs, supports and activities to enhance holistic well-being and pride in Urban Aboriginal Peoples.
  • The Indian Residential School Survivors Society Provides various forms of counselling, health and cultural support, and cultural services to residential school survivors, their families, and those dealing with intergenerational trauma.
  • National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation & The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) is a place of learning and dialogue where the truths of Residential School Survivors, families and communities are honoured and kept safe for future generations.
  • Legacy of Hope Foundation this is a national Indigenous charitable organization with the mandate to educate and create awareness and understanding about the Residential School System, including the intergenerational impacts such as the removal of generations of Indigenous children from their families, including the Sixties Scoop, the post-traumatic stress disorders that many First Nations, Inuit, and Metis continue to experience, all while trying to address racism, foster empathy and understanding and inspire action to improve the situation of Indigenous Peoples today.
  • Indspire Indspire is a national Indigenous registered charity that invests in the education of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people for the long term benefit of these individuals, their families and communities, and Canada.

Why I march in Vancouver’s February 14 Women’s Memorial March

By Lorelei Williams

I’m sure a lot of people can relate to this when I say a scary moment in a person’s life is when they lose a child for just a few minutes or even seconds. You and the child are together and then suddenly you aren’t. Your heart begins to race; you can even hear it beating in your head. Everything feels like it’s going in slow motion. You’re panicking, your head is pounding, you start to shake and feel like throwing up. Then, all of a sudden you see the child! You’re so relieved and everything is ok.

Unfortunately this isn’t the case for several Aboriginal families across Canada. Including my own. My cousin Tanya Holyk went missing in 1996. Her DNA was later found on Pickton’s Farm. My Aunty Belinda Williams who I closely resemble went missing around 1978. She disappeared without a trace.

She still remains missing today.

A few anonymous tips have actually surfaced recently.  The information is vague, but no information is too little.  Every tip counts.   We are looking for people to come forward with any information of her last known whereabouts.  We are against time right now, people are getting older and even passing away.  Our family would just like to find my aunty Belinda Williams. 36 years is a long time to be missing!

When a loved one goes missing or is murdered the impact on the family is very overwhelming! They try so hard to hold it together, and cope with their daily lives.  While inside they’re crumbling fast.  It’s a HORRIBLE nightmare that never ends.

I march in Vancouver’s February 14th Women’s Memorial March to honour and remember my cousin Tanya Holyk and to get my Missing Aunty Belinda Williams picture out there.  I hope someone will see her picture and maybe, just maybe they’ll remember something and hopefully come forward.

The march is a way for everyone to come together and support each other.  Especially family and friends of Missing and Murdered Women and Girls.  It raises awareness of violence against women and the high-alarming rates of Missing and Murdered Women and Girls across Canada.  This is a huge issue that needs to be dealt with.

Violence has affected my family directly and I don’t want another woman to go missing or be murdered.  They are someone’s mother, daughter, aunt, cousin, grandchild, or grandmother.  We call our families “circles” and when the circle is broken, it takes a very long time to mend.

If you have any information please contact Mission, BC RCMP at (604) 826-7161.


Lorelei Williams

Lorelei Williams ST’AT’IMC/STS’AILES

I am a single mother of two beautiful children. I do everything I can to end violence against women and girls. I work at Vancouver Aboriginal Community Policing Centre as an Outreach Coordinator where I work with family and friends of Missing and Murdered Women and Girls and Survival Sex Trade Workers. I volunteer at Aboriginal Front Door near Main and Hastings and Battered Women’s Support Services as a Crisis Line Support Worker. I’m also on the February 14th Women’s Memorial March Committee and the Missing and Murdered Women’s Coalition. Currently I’m enrolled at the Justice Institute of British Columbia where I’m taking the Aboriginal Focusing-Oriented Therapy and Complex Trauma Course. I will do anything and everything I can to break the cycle of violence against women and girls. I also started a dance troupe called Butterflies in Spirit where we raise awareness of the high-alarming rates of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls across Canada. A lot of the dancers in the troupe are family or friends of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls. All My Relations

Photo credit Belinda Williams

National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls “Where We Are At”

National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and Girls

“Where We Are At”

On December 8, 2015, the Government of Canada announced the launch of an inquiry to seek recommendations on concrete actions to address and prevent violence against Indigenous women and girls.

The Mandate of the Commissioners:

  1. The commissioners are required to examine and report on the systemic causes behind the violence that Indigenous women and girls experience, and their greater vulnerability to violence, by looking for patterns and underlying factors that explain why higher levels of violence occur. The commissioners have been mandated to examine the underlying historical, social, economic, institutional and cultural factors that contribute to the violence.
  2. The commission will examine practices, policies and institutions such as policing, child welfare, coroners and other government policies/ practices or social/economic conditions.
  3. The commissioners, as part of their mandate, will examine and report on institutional policies and practices that have been put in place as a response to violence, including those that have been effective in reducing violence and increasing the safety of Indigenous women and girls.

We know at Battered Women’s Support Services from extensive experience that over 1,700 recommendations for action have been previously made, and yet only a handful have been put into practice ; Indigenous women and girls in Canada are disproportionately affected by all forms of violence. Although Indigenous women make up 4 per cent of Canada’s female population, 16 per cent of all women murdered in Canada between 1980 and 2012 were Indigenous. While homicide rates for non-Indigenous women in Canada are declining, the homicide rate for Indigenous women has remained unchanged. Underlying causes, such as socioeconomic factors like poverty and homelessness as well as historical factors like racism, sexism and the legacy of Colonial practices and the impacts and intergenerational impacts of the residential school system are other reasons Indigenous women and girls experience disproportionate rates of violence. To summarize “Canada has a war against our women”

A message from the National Inquiry:

“Our women and girls (including heterosexual, Two Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered,  queer, and those with disabilities or special needs) are sacred. We would like to recognize every single family member and loved one of the missing or murdered Indigenous women, girls and LGBTQ2S people in Canada. We want to express our deepest sympathies for your loss and we are grateful for every story that you will choose to share with us in the search for truth.”


About Battered Women Support Services Involvement:

Battered Women Support Services has been standing in solidarity with Indigenous women across Turtle Island in calling for a National Inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada since before British Columbia’s Missing Women’s Commission of Inquiry (MWCI). On top of running a crisis line and offering legal, advocacy and counselling services, Battered Womens Support Services is actively involved in a coalition on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls formulated out of the failure of both group and family participation in the MWCI. Our efforts working in western Canada and northwest British Columbia through an initiative called Women’s Leadership and Training brought together Indigenous women to organize local responses to violence toward We are an active long-time member of the February 14th Women’s Memorial March committee to honour Indigenous women who have lost their lives to violence in downtown eastside Vancouver.


The Recommendations Battered Women Support Services Made to the Ministers last year about whose voice must be included:

The following groups must have an opportunity to meaningfully participate in the inquiry process:

  • The families, adopted families and families of the heart and community members of Indigenous women and girls who have experienced violence must be able to participate in the inquiry to share their experiences of the broad-reaching impacts of violence as well as how the police and justice system responded to their experiences.
  • Indigenous women and girls who have experienced and/or are currently experiencing violence: Indigenous women must be central participants in the inquiry process, as well as organizations that represent the interests of Indigenous women, people and organizations that work directly with them and those that advocate on their behalf.
  • Women’s-led and women serving organizations, service providers, outreach and support workers, and advocates whose expertise and service mandates in the issues facing murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls must be able to both provide support to and represent women and girls directly affected by the issues.
  • Indigenous communities and Indigenous organizations must be fully included in the inquiry given that they are integrally connected to the murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls, and have critical and unique experiences that draw upon their intimate first-hand knowledge of the very same racism, sexism and colonialism that the inquiry will be examining.
  • Experts in socio-economic marginalization and systemic discrimination based on race and gender must participate in the inquiry process so that the inquiry can take advantage of existing expertise on these issues.


Battered Women Support Services is honored to say we will be applying for standing within the National Inquiry into missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. And would like to encourage and support family members, loved ones, and survivors to reach out and identify themselves to the commission.


How to contact the Commission:

Please email the National Inquiry at

Phone: 1-844-348-4119

Include your name, contact information, and location. A member of the team will contact you.

Your testimony is wanted and needed!


Battered Women Support Services is dedicated and committed to finding ways of providing support to you if you choose to participate in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and girls. In addition, we are committed to finding ways to foster, strengthen, support, and encourage Indigenous women who are stepping up and leading in their home communities to provide these essential services and support while walking alongside family members, and survivors through the National Inquiry process and along their healing journey after the Inquiry. If you would prefer to participate with our support in contacting the Commission, please contact our crisis line at 604-687-1867, complete an intake and ask for an appointment with a woman from our Indigenous Women’s Program team.

NEWS RELEASE: Coalition Responds to Launch of National Inquiry

coalition responds national inquiry

Coalition Honours Families and Advocates as Canada Launches National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

(Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, B.C.- December 10, 2015) Earlier this week, the Canadian Government announced the launch of the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, beginning with pre-inquiry consultation. The Coalition on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls honours families and advocates who fought tirelessly for the national inquiry, and looks forward to participating in the pre-inquiry consultation and the inquiry itself.

The Coalition invites the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and the Honourable Patricia Hajdu, Minister of Status of Women to meet with us as part of the pre-inquiry consultation to be undertaken in British Columbia. Coalition members would also like to invite the ministers to the north to meet with the families and organizations there. The Coalition membership includes representation from families, survivors, Indigenous organizations, front-line service organizations, feminist and women’s organizations, legal advocacy sector, faith-based groups, and provincial organizations. Our breadth of representation and our experience with the Oppal Commission of Inquiry make the Coalition well-positioned to help inform this first stage of the inquiry.

For decades, Indigenous women and supporting organizations called for an inquiry into the disappearances of the many marginalized women from BC and we particularly recognize the hard work and commitment of the February 14th Women’s Memorial March Committee. For twenty-six years, the February 14th Women’s Memorial March has walked to protest the forces of colonization, misogyny, poverty, racism and to celebrate survival, resistance, struggle and solidarity to make women’s resistance visible. We also recognize the hard work of the Indigenous women and communities in Northern BC who have been instrumental in bringing forward the National Inquiry since the Highway of Tears Symposium in 2006.

The Coalition is encouraged that the Government of Canada will begin immediately engaging with survivors, family members and loved ones of victims, women’s groups, as well as National Indigenous, provincial, and territorial representatives, as well as frontline service providers to seek their views on the design and scope of the inquiry. We have provided preliminary recommendations for a sufficiently thorough pre-inquiry consultation process, and advised that the BC Missing Women Commission of Inquiry led by Wally Oppal cannot be used as a model for any aspect of a national inquiry, given its exclusion of key voices, narrow mandate that failed to address root causes, and only partially implemented recommendations.

Learning from BC’s mistakes in the Oppal inquiry, we are asking that family members and organizations with relevant knowledge of the issues be appropriately resourced by Canada to allow for full participation in the process. We also ask that the inquiry mandate meaningfully address root causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls, and that Canada put in place resources and mechanisms to ensure that recommendations coming out of the national inquiry will be acted on in a comprehensive way.

The Coalition on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls initially came together in response to the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry in British Columbia overseen by Commissioner Wally Oppal. Unfortunately the groups who formed the Coalition were shut out of the inquiry; however, the Coalition continues to meet regularly to pursue justice for murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls and has grown in number and strength.

Media Inquiries:

Amnesty International Canada, Craig Benjamin, (613) 744-7667, ext. 235
Battered Women’s Support Services, Angela Marie MacDougall, (604) 808-0507
BC Assembly of First Nations, Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson, (250) 318-8527
BC Civil Liberties Association, Josh Paterson, (778) 829-8973
Butterflies in Spirit, Lorelei Williams, (778) 709-6498
Canadian Federation of Students- BC, Simka Marshall,
Carrier Sekani Family Services, Mary Teegee, (250) 612-8710
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, Tribal Chief Terry Teegee, (250) 640-3256
Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, Alice Kendall, (604) 681-8480
Ending Violence Association of BC, Christina Entrekin Coad, (604) 633-2506, ext. 13
February 14th Women’s Memorial March Committee, Fay Blaney, (778) 714-0161, Mona Woodward, (778) 714-6448
First Nations Summit, Colin Braker, (604) 328-4094
First United Church, Genesa Greening, (604) 681-8365
Neskonlith Indian Band, Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, (250) 319-7383
PACE: Providing Alternatives Counselling & Education Society, Laura Dilley, (604) 872-7651
PHS Community Services Society
Pivot Legal Society, Kevin Hollett, (778) 848-3420
Poverty and Human Rights Centre, Shelagh Day, (604) 872-0750
RainCity Housing, Amelia Ridgway, (604) 662-7023
Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, (250) 490-5314
Vancouver Aboriginal Community Policing Centre Society, Lillian Howard, (604) 253-9575
Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter, Keira Smith-Tague, (604) 872-8212
Union Gospel Mission, Derek Weiss, (604) 253-3323
West Coast LEAF, Kendra Milne, (604) 684-8772
WISH Drop-in Centre Society, Mebrat Beyene, (604) 669-9474
Beverley Jacobs, Jacobs Law, (778) 877-7402
Jenny Kwan, Member of Parliament for Vancouver East
Melanie Mark, BC NDP Candidate Vancouver- Mount Pleasant, contact Nathan Allan, (604) 338-2967

Download the Media Release in PDF format here.

International Human Rights Day

International Human Rights Day

Resisting the Backlash Against Women’s Human Rights

by Ela Esra Gunad

December 10th is International Human Rights Day, a day to bring attention to the fundamental proposition in the Universal Declaration that states each one of us, everywhere, at all times is entitled to the full range of human rights which belong equally to each of us and bind us together as a global community with the same ideals and values. It was sixty-six years ago that this milestone document in the history of human rights, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), was adopted.

Where are we as a global community at today in terms of the rights of women?

Every day, all over the world, women and girls continue to face violence and abuse in their homes, schools, workplaces, online, and on the streets. Globally one in three women has experienced abuse or subjected to gender-based violence in their lives.  Here in Canada, every six days a woman is killed by her intimate partner. Women are facing this violence simply because they are women. There are currently 1,181 missing and murdered  Indigenous women and girls throughout Canada due to the historical and present day systemic and social oppressive forces.

Throughout history and still today, there has been an ongoing battle on women’s bodies during times of conflict and warIn Rwanda, between 100,000 and 250,000 women were raped during the three months of Rwandan Genocide in 1994. According to the UN agencies, more than 60,000 women were raped during the civil war in Sierra Leone (1991-2002), more than 40,000 in Liberia (1989-2003), up to 60,000 in the former Yugoslavia (1992-1995), and at least 200,000 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1998. And, the history repeats itself today from Egypt, Afghanistan, and Iraq to Syria. Even in the absence of conflict or war, being a woman in these regions is being on continual alert of being harmed or killed. It cannot be ignored that during waves of militarization threaten women’s lives all the more.  Women have been arbitrarily arrested and detained, physically abused, harassed, and tortured in ways you may not even want to imagine.

Living free from violence is a human right, yet millions of women and girls face this violence both in times of peace and in war, at the hands of the state, in the home, and in the community. A vast number of women experience forced migration and have to leave their homelands in order to escape gendered systemic violence including gender oppression, gender persecution, political persecution, femicide, war, economic violence, land theft, and the impacts of colonization and globalization. We know through our support and advocacy work at Battered Women’s Support Services, migrant women have always faced structural barriers and there are many inequalities that migrant women face within Canada’s economic, social, legal, and political systems. It is crucial to understand that human rights are linked to each other and these inequalities often deny the basic rights of migrant women and their families. Freedom of movement and residence within any country is a human right, yet migrant women’s lives continue to be threatened by unsafe alternatives that force them to flee their countries, and once they make it into Canada the immigration process makes them even more vulnerable to further violence by the state, by employers, and within their relationships.


Violence is one of the most common causes of homelessness for women and children. Our work on homelessness and violence against women shows that women leave their homes because of physical and/or sexual violence. On any given day in Canada, over 8,200 women and children are living in emergency shelters and transition houses to escape violent partners. Every woman and her children are entitled to safe, affordable, and adequate housing, yet many women face homelessness and/or further violence as a result of that. BWSS works very hard to get women into social housing and we know the demand supersedes the available resources.  One women’s shelter reported turning away eight to ten women per day at both of the shelters it operates. At BWSS we know many women with children will do almost anything to avoid sleeping on the streets out of fear of losing their children. With no place to go and not wanting to lose their children, many women stay in the abusive relationship.

This reality will not change until we each own our role in ending violence and do what is in our power to advocate and act ( activism ) to end gender-based violence. Women around the globe are rising against the pandemic of gender based violence, standing in their power, mobilizing and organizing to end all forms of violence against women and girls. From Indigenous women warriors’ who took to social media with #IAmNotNext campaign to women survivors who are standing in their power and coming forward with #WhyIStayed, #WhyILeft, and #WhyIChooseNowtoTellMyStory hashtags; from women of the Arab Spring who carried their voices far and wide on the winds of revolution to women in Nigeria who started #BringBackOurGirls campaign to demand the return of hundreds of kidnapped Nigerian girls.

As it has been said, ending violence against women and girls remains one of the most crucial social issue to be obtained, since it weakens all other efforts towards a future just society. To come to grips with today’s most prevalent human rights violations in world, we have to work together towards a world in which women are safe and free everywhere from their very own intimate environments to the wider world at all times.

In the past 35 years, BWSS has been working on this frontline to end violence against women and making a positive change in the lives of girls, women, families, and communities.

On this International Human Rights Day, we ask you to take an effective action to stop violence against women. We need you to create a future free from violence for all.

Use your power today to end violence against women by:


Read more about our 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence campaign:

International Day to End Violence Against Women in Canada

Culture Shifts Recognized as Women’s Group Commemorates 35 years of Work to End Violence Against Women

Women’s Leadership for One Future Without Violence

The Dynamics of Power and Control After Separation in Relation to the Family Law Processes

16 Steps for Discovery and Empowerment 

Decolonizing and Healing Through Ceremonies

The Power of Support Groups at BWSS

Volunteering on BWSS Crisis and Intake Line

Wildflower Women of Turtle Island Drum Group

A Space for Every Woman to Grow

If you could do something to end violence against girls and women, wouldn’t you?