British Columbia·Photos

'It makes me feel good to walk for the women': Thousands honour missing and murdered in Vancouver

The 29th annual Women's Memorial March made its way through Vancouver's Downtown Eastside neighbourhood on Friday.

Marchers for the annual Women's Memorial March took over Vancouver's Downtown Eastside Friday

People join the 29th annual February 14th Women's Memorial March to honour the memory of all women from the Downtown Eastside who have died due to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual violence in Vancouver. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Thousands of people gathered in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside Friday afternoon for the 29th annual Women's Memorial March for missing and murdered women and girls.

The march, which started at noon at Main and Hastings, proceeded through the neighbourhood, ending at Oppenheimer Park. The first march, held in 1992, was in response to the murder of a woman on Powell Street. 

"We've been stripped of so much," said Carol Martin, a longtime advocate for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

"We've been stripped of our family, our identity, the very land from under us."

Thousands of people marched Friday through the Downtown Eastside in honour of missing and murdered women. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)
A child bangs a drum during Friday's march for missing and murdered women. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Indigenous women and girls are nearly three times more likely to experience domestic violence, murder, or other violent crimes than non-Indigenous women, according to information from the province.

As the march moved through the Downtown Eastside, there were several stops to acknowledge where women and girls were last seen or murdered. 

Watch the crowds move through the streets:

Hundreds gather to honour the lives of missing and murdered women. 0:33

Mabel Todd, 85, from the Nak'azdli Whut'en First Nation near Fort St. James, was one of the marchers.

"It's very heartbreaking to hear [the] stories," she said. 

"It makes me feel good to walk for the women, you know, who have lost their lives and leave behind their children."

Mabel Todd, 85, says she'll participate in the women's march as long as she can. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)
Todd stood out among the crowd in her bright coat. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Todd says she'll be back.

"Even when I'm 100, I'll do it again."

After more than three years, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls delivered its final report in June 2019. 

While some estimates have suggested roughly 4,000 Indigenous women have been murdered or have disappeared over the past few decades, the inquiry report said the true number may be impossible to establish.

Indigenous women and girls are nearly three times more likely to experience domestic violence, murder, or other violent crimes than non-Indigenous women, according to information from the province. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)
Juliana Julian holds a photo of her grandmother during Friday's march. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

A statement from Premier John Horgan and other members of the B.C. government said they are committed to "listening to, and working with Indigenous women."

"We need to improve the safety of Indigenous women and girls by addressing and educating people about the underlying causes of systemic violence and racism that lead to their victimization at home, in the workplace and in industry, including addressing the social effects of industrial work camps."

Juliana Julian shows a photo of her grandmother, Rose, at the 29th annual February 14th Women's Memorial March. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

With files from Andrea Ross