“No More Stolen Sisters: Safe Shelters, Safe Housing, Safe Services”

“No More Stolen Sisters: Safe Shelters, Safe Housing, Safe Services”

A former Librarian social activist has asked CUPE 391 to endorse this campaign.  Please read on and support through letters or a petition or an endorsement.  in solidarity Alex

1) PETITION: Please sign our online petition. We are hoping to gather 5000
signatures in two weeks and need your help to make this happen! :Link to Petition
2) ENDORSE: If you are a member of a women’s group, social justice
collective, community centre, union, service organization, or campus
group, we request that you please endorse our three demands by emailing
hwalia8@gmail.com or calling 778 885 0040.

Our current list of endorsers include: Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre,
DTES Power of Women Group, WISH Drop-In Centre Society, Walk4Justice,
Battered Women’s Support Services, Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House,
PACE Society, Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council, Vancouver Status of
Women, Oxfam Canada, No One Is Illegal Vancouver, Vancouver Action,
Council of Canadians, Association of Chinese Canadians for Equality and
Solidarity Society, Aboriginal Women’s Action Network, West Coast Legal
Education and Action Fund, Streams of Justice, Franciscan Sisters of the
Atonement, Carnegie Community Action Project, Purple Thistle Centre, W2
Community Media Arts Society, Life Skills Centre , Ending Violence
Association of BC, Portland Hotel Society, Pivot Legal Society, UBC Centre
for Race Autobiography Gender and Age studies, Interfaith Institute for
Justice, Peace and Social Movements, Women Against Violence Against Women,
Aboriginal Front Door

3) WRITE-IN: We are requesting that everyone to please send an email along
the lines of the below to all of the following people in BC Housing, City
Council, MLA’s and MP’s. Email addresses compiled here:

rich.coleman.mla@leg.bc.ca, yourvoice@christyclark.ca,
sramsay@bchousing.org, dmcmann@bchousing.org, MMcNeil@bchousing.org,
gregor.robertson@vancouver.ca, lranton@vancouver.ca,
Ellen.Woodsworth@vancouver.ca, clrcadman@vancouver.ca,
clrchow@vancouver.ca, clrdeal@vancouver.ca, clrjang@vancouver.ca,
clrlouie@vancouver.ca, clrmeggs@vancouver.ca, clrreimer@vancouver.ca,
clrstevenson@vancouver.ca, harry.bloy.mla@leg.bc.ca,
stephanie.cadieux.mla@leg.bc.ca, mary.polak.mla@leg.bc.ca,
ida.chong.mla@leg.bc.ca, mable.elmore.mla@leg.bc.ca,
Jenny.Kwan.MLA@leg.bc.ca, daviel@parl.gc.ca, Davies.D@parl.gc.ca,
Dhaliwal.S@parl.gc.ca, Fry.H@parl.gc.ca, Murray.J@parl.gc.ca,
Siksay.B@parl.gc.ca, Julian.P@parl.gc.ca, Dosanjh.U@parl.gc.ca

RE: Safe Housing and Safe Services for Women in the DTES

It has come to my attention that for the past two months a coalition has
been raising the urgent issue of women’s safety in shelters in the
Downtown Eastside. I have been dismayed by the lack of response by all
levels of government about the ongoing violence committed against women in
the Downtown Eastside. Sexual assaults against women in this neighbourhood
in particular are normalized and their safety is not considered of highest
priority as we have seen with the ongoing tragedy of missing and murdered
women. This would never be acceptable in any other part of town. I support
the call for a 24 hours drop-in space and shelter for women in the
Downtown Eastside, housing for homeless women and children, and clear
protocols to be established within co-ed shelters.

Over the past two months a growing group of women residents of the
Downtown Eastside as well as a coalition of DTES and women-serving
organizations have been raising the urgent issue of women’s safety in
shelters in the Downtown Eastside. This has come in response to a number
of reported sexual assaults in DTES shelters.

We have been dismayed by the lack of response by all levels of government
about the ongoing violence committed against women in the Downtown
Eastside. We have been outraged that all four of our correspondences have
been ignored. We have been shocked that our delegation to BC Housing in
March 2011 was met with a heavy presence of police and we were shut out
from any dialogue on this issue. All this suggests to us that BC Housing
as well as city and provincial officials do not consider women’s safety a
priority within their funded facilities.

Sexual assaults against women in this neighbourhood are normalized as we
have seen with the ongoing tragedy of missing and murdered women. Women
should not have to “choose” between the indignity of homelessness and
being warehoused in shelters, and the high-risk of assault associated with
both. We will not remain silent or complicit and are continuing a
grassroots campaign based on three core demands that we believe can and
should be met in a timely manner.

We are calling for:

1) A 24 hours low-barrier women-only (includes all self-identified women)
drop-in space and shelter in the Downtown Eastside, ideally on Hastings
Street between Main and Jackson. The establishment and operation of this
service should be done through an accountable process including a
transparent call for tenders and in consultation with community
organizations and DTES resident women.

2) Housing for homeless women and children with at least 100 new units to
be made available immediately.

3) Clear provincial standards for women’s safety in co-ed shelters to be
implemented immediately in all existing and new shelters, including but
not limited to:

  • Women-only facilities in co-ed shelters with adequate women-only beds   and services within those spaces.
  • Women staff and training for all staff by women’s organizations   experienced in issues of sexual and gender violence. Shelter contractors   must demonstrate the ability to ensure safety and security for women   shelter users and all staff must be able to demonstrate an understanding   of gender inequalities that contribute to violence against women.

We are calling on allied groups, communities, and individuals to support
us. Please get involved and spread the word! For more information email
project@dewc.ca or call 604 681 8480 x 234. Website:

  • Open Letter to Mayor Gregor Robertson “Women Respond to Sexual Assaults   in Downtown Eastside Church Shelter While Shelter and City of Vancouver   Ignore Reports” http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/newsrelease/6390
  • Press Release “Women Respond to Comments by Reverend Ric Matthews of   First United Church; Reiterate Calls for 24-hour Women’s Shelter and Safe   Housing in DTES” http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/newsrelease/6496.
  • Press Release “Women’s Action in Downtown Eastside for Women’s Safety”   and Open Letter to BC Housing:   http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/newsrelease/6692


  • Video of press conference:   http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/video/press-conference-women-respond-sexual-assault-dtes-shelter/6484
  • Podcast of Vancouver DTES women’s groups shut out of B.C. Housing   office:   http://rabble.ca/podcasts/shows/pivot-legal-society/2011/03/vancouver-dtes-womens-groups-shut-out-bc-housing-office
  • Women rail against violence in shelters:   http://www.theprovince.com/news/assault+protest/4488619/story.html
  • Safe Housing, Safe Shelters and Safe Services for Women:   http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/story/vancouver-politics-and-service-provision/6707
  •   More emergency shelter spaces needed for women, Vancouver council hears:   http://www.straight.com/article-382418/vancouver/more-emergency-shelter-spaces-needed-women-vancouver-council-hears
  • Women’s groups outraged over sexual assault comments:   http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2011/03/02/bc-first-united-church-sexual-assaults.html