Report Now Available! Red Women Rising

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We are excited to help circulate the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre’s (DEWC) new report, Red Women Rising: Indigenous Women Survivors in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. This comprehensive report is the culmination of a participatory process with 113 Indigenous women and 15 non-Indigenous women regarding the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. It is based on the lived experience, leadership, and expertise of Indigenous survivors. We are looking carefully at the 200 recommendations including 35 key recommendations and incorporating them into our call for an accountable, bold and comprehensive poverty reduction plan.

Available in full here:

At the press conference this morning, speakers Sophie Merasty, Harsha Walia, Suzanne Kilroy-Huculak, Carol Martin and Veronica spoke about the urgent crisis reflected in the report that needs to be dealt with today, as well as the resilience of the women and the community. We all have a part to play in moving these critical recommendations forward.

“Whatever you’ve thought before today, before this moment, I ask that it changes. Look out your eyes in a different way.” – Veronica

Red Women Rising: Indigenous Women Survivors in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is an extraordinary report with Indigenous women survivors at the center; rather than as a secondary reference. Indigenous women in the DTESa neighbourhood known as ground zero for violence against Indigenous womenare not silent victims, statistics, or stereotypes. This unprecedented work shares their powerful first-hand realities of violence, residential schools, colonization, land, resource extraction, family trauma, poverty, labour, housing, child welfare, being two-spirit, police, prisons, legal system, opioid crisis, healthcare, and more.

“There are things that can be done so that no one else has to go through what I had to go through. I believe there should be housing available for young girls so they do not end up homeless or in an unsafe housing situation. The government should make it easier to get on welfare and raise the welfare rates so women do not have to work the streets to survive. It’s so hard to survive on welfare. Welfare is so low that you have to work to supplement welfare, and it’s often different kinds of dangerous work. We need to increase welfare and make it easier to get on disability assistance so we have more money to live.” -Debra Leo

Violence against Indigenous women, girls, trans and two-spirit people is one of the most pressing human rights issue in Canada today. We know that the over-representation in statistics on homicides, poverty, homelessness, child apprehensions, police street checks, incarceration, and overdose fatalities is not a coincidence; it is part of an infrastructure of gendered colonial violence. Colonial state practices target women for removal from Indigenous lands, tear children from their families, enforce impoverishment, and manufacture the conditions for dehumanization.

“We need affordable and safe housing. A lot of us as Native women stay in unsafe housing because of the threat of child welfare or threat of being homeless on the streets. I see even more younger and younger homeless women and girls on the streets these days. We should be able to have our own housing and not be dependent on men for housing. Women should be on the lease and women should get their own apartment, whether or not they are with a partner. Welfare claws your money back when women are in shared housing with a partner, and that’s not right because it decreases women’s financial independence. We also need housing that is family housing so women don’t lose their kids to MCFD. And it’s impossible to stay sober or to clean up without stable and safe housing. When you sleep on the streets, you end up doing more drugs not only because of the stress but also to stay warm and to kill the hunger pains. Housing is so foundational to what we need to stabilize our lives.” -Pearl and Kim Baptiste

Authored by Carol Muree Martin (Nisga’a and Gitanyow) and Harsha Walia with 128 collaborators, the compelling stories, rigorous research, and holistic recommendations within the 220-page report drastically shifts the lens from pathologizing poverty towards amplifying resistance to and healing from all forms of gendered colonial violence. “This is reconciliation.” Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said at the press conference. “Reconciliation has to come from the grassroots up, it can’t come from the government down.”

“But the hidden truth of the DTES is that despite the poverty, criminalization, and trauma, we all care for each other and socialize with one another. Especially in the DTES Power of Women Group, where we are like one family and support the community on issues such as police brutality, child apprehensions, violence against women, and housing. Whether people are sober or high on drugs, we listen to each other’s truths and dreams.” -Stella August

Read the full report here: