We stand with the family and all the other organizations, including the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and the WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre, who are calling for an apology from the VPD along with a full investigation into Chelsea Poorman's death, a member of Kawacatoose First Nation.
The Red Women Rising report, a report from the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre based on the lived experience of over 100 urban Indigenous women, there is a greater crisis at large beyond the VPD’s inaction in this case. The Red Women report indicates that, “Violence against Indigenous women, girls, trans, and two-spirit people is the most pressing human rights issue in Canada today.”
Canada’s longstanding history of colonial violence disproportionately affects equity-seeking genders and has often looked like a failure to investigate cases all too similar to Chelsea’s.
In addition, the Final Report of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry shows that police in the DTES have failed to adequately prevent and protect Indigenous women and girls from violence. Furthermore, they have failed to diligently investigate violence when it did occur. Instead there has been a long history of dismissive and racist attitudes from police, a lack of adequate resources allocated to cases and investigations of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
There has been insensitivity and offensive treatment towards family members, jurisdictional confusion, and lack of coordination between police forces that prohibited family members from receiving the closure they deserve. These issues are more emphasized in the 312 Calls to Justice in the 2SMMIWG report which continue not to be implemented despite their urgency.
At WTC we have been committed for over a decade to creating safer cities for everyone. We continuously challenge our Mayor and City Council to support policies that take into account the needs of all equity-deserving genders. We will always advocate at city hall and to petition the Vancouver police board for evidence-based policies that create safety in cities and our communities.
We know that central to this is addressing colonial violence and listening to the Indigenous Peoples, including their call for sovereignty, properly implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, and broader based community led safety for all. As the Red Women Rising report reminds us, “Solutions to ending violence against Indigenous women and girls must, therefore, reduce Indigenous women’s manufactured vulnerability by ensuring equitable access to and self-determination over land, culture, language, housing, child care, income security, employment, education, and overall health and well-being.”
People are not disposable. Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people are not disposable. It’s long overdue that the VPD reckons itself with the cumulative impacts of gendered colonialism and their complicity in the framework of how it shows up in their work today.
We strongly advocate to the city for the implementation of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Calls to Justice along with the recommendations made in the Red Women Rising report.
Throughout our work surveying community organizations and community members in the Hot Pink Paper Campaign, community safety and belonging has shown up as a priority issue. We will use the information we’ve gathered throughout this campaign to further advocate to all our elected officials to create a city where all of us, Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit folks in particular, can feel safe and belong. We are committed to holding these officials accountable to following through on solutions throughout their elected term.
We will continue to listen and act on calls from the family and community, and will act in solidarity with those who have expressed a need for further investigation and an apology from the VPD.