September 26 2012, Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories – The Power of Women Group of the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre is organizing the “7th Annual March For Women’s Housing” on Saturday September 28th starting at 1:30 pm at Columbia and Cordova.
The march calls on all levels of government to commit to safe and long-term affordable housing. According to Priscillia Mays, an organizer of the march “There is a perception that governments are dealing with the homelessness crisis, but solutions are all band-aid ones. We have the right to safe and affordable housing, not just shelter beds. Many women are being forced into unsafe and violent situations, leading to the ongoing unacceptable tragedy of murdered women and child apprehensions.”
Mays continues, “If this is the year of Reconciliation, then apologies are not enough. The government needs to take concrete action. Our children are still being taken away from us because of poverty and lack of housing. There are more children apprehended now than ever were in residential schools. This is a shame. Reconciliation should mean an actual end to this cycle of trauma and racism and loss. When will this reconciliation actually happen and who will it benefit?”
In addition to local neighbourhood issues such as gentrification and housing, the march will bring attention to issues of national concern such as pipeline projects and prison expansion.
“From condominium developers in the Downtown Eastside to big oil companies, the interests of the 1% are the same: profit over the people and the planet. And our governments at every level are supporting the rich and elite,” says Joan Morelli, an organizer of the march and a senior with disabilities. “I challenge any politician to switch places with me. Stand in a food line, and live off $6 a day; then perhaps you will understand our pain. No more empty talk.”
According to Beatrice Starr, Indigenous elder and organizer of the march, “The fight against gentrification is also against colonialism. This is where our people end up when we are forced from our land by governments and corporations stealing resources. And now we are being displaced again. Gentrification through condo projects and upscale businesses has created a crisis of increased rents, enhanced security and police presence, and us feeling unwelcome in our neighbourhood.”
Award-winning author Naomi Klein joined the group last year in a press conference, stating “I support the demand of no condo development in the Downtown Eastside. It’s a clear demand, it’s a fair demand, it’s a moral demand.”