Sat June 13 @ 1:30 pm. Starts outside Downtown Eastside Women Centre (302 Columbia- corner Cordova, just west of Main)
On Saturday June 13, join women in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside Women Centre Power of Women Group in the 3rd Annual March for Women's Housing and March Against Poverty! Everyone welcome!
We are marching for:
- Social Housing, Childcare, and Healthcare for all!
- No more Evictions and No more Condos in the DTES!
- People Before Olympic Profits!
- Stop Criminalizing the Poor and Scrap Civil City!
For more information contact project at dewc.ca or call 604-681-8480 x 234
Sunday, May 24
Sat June 13 @ 1:30 pm. Starts outside Downtown Eastside Women Centre (302 Columbia- corner Cordova, just west of Main)
Sunday, May 17
Saturday, May 16
'I feel like I’m fighting this on my own,’ mother says
BY BRENDAN KENNEDY, THE OTTAWA CITIZEN
March 9, 2009
OTTAWA — Laurie Odjick says the hardest part of dealing with a missing child is “the not-knowing.”
“I need to know — and I may never know,” she said. “There are a lot of women out there who have never been found ... I don’t want my daughter to become another statistic.”
Laurie’s daughter, Maisy, and her close friend, Shannon Alexander, both 17, were last seen on Sept. 6 in Maniwaki, Que., about 140 kilometres north of Ottawa, when Shannon’s father left them at his home on Koko Street, which borders the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation, the reserve where Maisy lives.
With six months now passed since the teens went missing, and little or no progress made toward finding them, Odjick says she feels totally alone.
“I’ve never felt so alone, and I feel like I’m fighting this on my own,” she said.
But mingling with Odjick’s despair is simmering anger and frustration with what she considers a sluggish and complacent response by the two police departments investigating her daughter’s disappearance.
“I honestly believe my daughter’s rights were violated because she didn’t have a proper investigation
at all,” she said, adding that she
believes police treated the girls as runaways from the start and only put a half-hearted effort into finding them.
Sûreté du Québec Const. Steve Lalande said parents have a right to be frustrated, but police are taking the case seriously.
“There are no files that are unimportant to the SQ,” he said. “Rest
assured, the SQ is putting every effort into recovering the two youths.”
Kitigan Zibi Police Chief Gordon McGregor said it’s natural for family members to be frustrated with
police in a case such as this, where there is little progress.
“I can understand the families’ frustrations — we share the same frustrations,” he said. “But we’re not getting any information that’s really conclusive.”
The Kitigan Zibi Police department and the Sûreté du Québec
are jointly investigating the case
because Maisy lived on-reserve and Shannon lived off.
Despite keeping all options technically open, the Sûreté du Québec now says they have evidence to suggest the teens ran away.
“We always keep the possibility that something could have happened but, right now, we have reason to believe that these people left wilfully,” said Lalande. “We have no indications of foul play.”
This is the first time the Sûreté du Québec has said they believe the girls ran away, but Lalande could not confirm if there had been any change in the case.
He declined to provide the evidence that was leading police in this direction, saying it would interfere with an ongoing investigation.
The Kitigan Zibi police, however, said they have no such evidence.
Odjick, a radio broadcaster and mother of four, says she has no idea what evidence the Sûreté du Québec is speaking of.
“If they left voluntarily, why didn’t they take their stuff?” Odjick said. “(Maisy) even had a little bit of cash in her wallet. Why wouldn’t she take it? … It’s hard to believe and I don’t believe it.”
There was no sign of forced entry or robbery at the home on the day the teens went missing, but all of their belongings, including their clothes, wallets and IDs, were left behind.
Maisy’s and Shannon’s parents have accused the The Kitigan Zibi police of being unprepared and slow to act, and the Sûreté du Québec of using jurisdictional obstacles as an excuse for what the parents call an ineffective investigation.
The first extensive ground search for Maisy and Shannon was organized by the Odjick family, and did not take place until December, after several heavy snowfalls had blanketed the area.
Though the two police forces have been collaborating since the girls went missing, the The Kitigan Zibi police initially only had Maisy’s file and the Sûreté du Québec was responsible for Shannon’s, despite the fact the teens went missing together and are believed to still be together.
Recently, the forces combined the files, and now jointly hold both.
Lalande said working with other police departments can slow the investigation process.
“The more players you have, it doesn’t go as easy as it should,” he said, but would not elaborate.
In the fall, there were several reported sightings of the girls in Montreal, Ottawa, Kingston and Port Elgin, near Lake Huron, where Maisy once lived. Most were proven false, but the Sûreté du Québec now says sightings in Ottawa and Kingston have been confirmed.
Since Christmas, however, the case has been absolutely cold.
Odjick is reluctant to raise the issue of race, but she said she does wonder whether the girls’ disappearance would have garnered more attention if they were not aboriginal.
She cited the widespread media coverage and massive, police-led searches for Brandon Crisp, the 15-year-old Barrie boy who ran away on Oct. 13 and was found dead three weeks later.
“I’m not happy for the outcome, of course,” she said. “But I’m envious of the attention.”
A $10,000 reward — made up of donations from friends and supportive organizations — is being
offered by the families for any information that leads to Maisy’s and Shannon’s safe return.
- Shannon Alexander is five-foot-nine, 145 pounds, with brown eyes and dark brown hair. She has acne and pierced ears, often wears a silver necklace with a feather on it, and has a scar on her left knee.
- Maisy Odjick is six feet tall, 125 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair. She has two piercings in her bottom lip and one in her left nostril, and scars on top of her right eyebrow and left forearm.
Shannon and Maisy are believed to be together. If you have any information about their whereabouts, call the Sûreté du Québec at 819-310-4141 or the Kitigan Zibi Police Department at 819-449-6000. There is a $10,000 reward for information that leads to their safe return.
For more information, visit www.findmaisyandshannon.com
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
Wednesday, May 13
Posted using ShareThis
Saturday, May 9
Keeping aboriginal teens, women safe group's purpose
Winnipeg Free Press
May 6, 2009
Angela Roulette says aboriginal women have three automatic strikes against them.
"It's like no one cares, no one thinks you're worth anything," says the Portage la Prairie resident.
"Our women disappear and it's like they weren't there in the first place."
Roulette, founder of the Women of Mother Earth Network, is doing all she can to keep aboriginal teens and women safe.
She and her loosely knit group have put up posters in Portage offering safe haven to women passing through town.
"We want them to know there's a place to go, that there's someone to talk to," says Roulette. "Maybe they go with the wrong people because they don't think there's any other choice."
Her posters are placed next to those of two missing Portage la Prairie women, Amber Lynn McFarland and Jennifer Catcheway. Catcheway, 18, is aboriginal.
A report released in Ottawa last Thursday called for the federal government to address the growing number of missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada.
According to a story from Free Press Ottawa bureau chief Mia Rabson, the second report of the Sisters in Spirit initiative showed that 520 aboriginal women were murdered or went missing in Canada since 1970.
More than half of the cases occurred since 2000, and 71 of them were women from Manitoba. Just over two-thirds of the total have been found dead, and about 25 per cent are still missing. In 45 per cent of the cases where women were found dead, nobody has been charged.
Roulette says it's often impossible to make the average person care about the fate of aboriginal women and children. She pointed to the recent disappearance of 12-year-old Jaylynn McIvor of Portage la Prairie. The girl ran away from her foster home last week, but was found in Winnipeg Sunday evening.
"This is a girl who could be in real danger. She's 12," Roulette said before McIvor was located. "Do we say, 'Well, she's aboriginal, she's with CFS, she can take care of herself?' We have to find her. She's a child."
But Roulette says the problem is greater than missing women. It's that aboriginal children and teens don't value themselves or their lives.
"We're in danger of burying our future," she says.
The death of 14-year-old Chantele Leveque on April 20, a death that sparked at least one copycat attempt by another teen, is the latest in a string of self-inflicted deaths by First Nations children.
"These kids see so much death they don't even show emotion anymore," says Roulette.
"It's like they go to funerals to see their friends, to socialize. We're losing our children."
Leveque, like the 14-year-old who also made an attempt last week, was in the care of CFS.
Roulette accompanied one of Leveque's cousins to the funeral. That child is also in care.
She says the girls don't seem to understand the deaths are a tragedy.
"It's like it's over, they plug their music back in and that's it."
Samantha Jensson, a young aboriginal girl, also hanged herself in Winnipeg last week.
Roulette says she sees the child welfare system as a continuation of the residential school debacle.
She has worked with women who have lost their children to the authorities and has been a foster parent herself. She says the legacy of both CFS and residential schools is the same.
"When you've lost something so precious it damages you," says the diminutive Roulette, who is also a trained addictions counsellor.
"You aren't the same. You can't be the same."
But Roulette's message isn't one of blame. She wants to tell women that there is someone willing to be their advocate and friend.
"We cannot give up," she says. "We won't let these girls and women keep disappearing."
© 2009 Winnipeg Free Press. All Rights Reserved.
Don't we matter?
9/05/2009 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
I read your article about the aboriginal women who are missing and murdered (In danger of burying our future, May 6). Thanks for doing the story. I have a sister who is missing from the downtown eastside of Vancouver. It will be 12 years on June 25. It's almost definite she ended up on that Pickton farm. It is true that not much is done when it comes to missing and murdered aboriginal women. It is awful. Why? Don't we matter?
If it weren't for me and a couple other people, no one would have known about that farm. I went to the media left and right until something was done. But even then in the beginning the media said to me there are a lot of missing people. It took long before people started to listen.
I feel grateful that I was invited to speak at Parliament Hill with the Native Women's Association of Canada. I promised my sister's daughter Debra I would do anything in my power to find her mom and find out who took her. And that's just what I've done. My niece, only 12 when her mom went missing, graduated from high school and received her criminology diploma and was married last year. I hope and pray one day we will find Janet so we can have some kind of closure. We haven't even been able to have a memorial.
The missing women task force keeps in contact with me and I know they are doing the best that they can. You can see my sister Janet's picture by Googling "vanishedvoices" or at missingpeople.net
Maple Ridge, B.C.
Tuesday, May 5
By Ethan Baron, The Province
May 4, 2009
Welcome to Pamela Masik's nightmare.
The ghosts of killed and vanished women surround you, conjured from the horrors of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside by a painter who seems, at first blush, as far from the mean streets as you could imagine.
Masik, known principally as a painter of dreamy abstracts sought by wealthy collectors, is beautiful, successful. She lives in posh Yaletown with her son and a little white dog named Paolo.
Yet she has worked nearly four years now on a project that has cost her countless thousands of dollars, and at times left her sobbing and puking in her studio, overcome by the tragedy that bleeds from her subject matter.
She is painting 69 portraits of women who went missing from the Downtown Eastside. Forty-nine paintings are finished, each eight feet by 10 or eight by 12. Among her subjects are Robert Pickton's victims, and alleged victims.
Near the door inside her Vancouver studio hangs the face of Mona Wilson, some three metres tall. Wilson is one of six women Pickton has been found guilty of killing. The portrait displays Masik's characteristic painting style: violent, rapid-fire brush strokes, wide, splattering, slashing sweeps. Replace the brush in her hand with a knife and she could be committing murder. In fact, she does at times use a blade -- Wilson's face is rent by gaping cuts, one roughly sewn up.
Nearby in the studio hangs a portrait of Cindy Feliks, whose killing falls into the next 20 counts against Pickton, for which he has yet to be tried. There are things about the Pickton case that have not been published or broadcast because of a court order, and what happened to Feliks will, when it becomes known, shock the nation. Masik knows already, and she has used her artist's alchemy to create effects on the canvas that tell, on a visceral level, of an unthinkable destruction, an appalling transformation.
Everywhere in this high-ceilinged studio the faces of these women stare out. Between them flits this paint-spattered artist, nothing on the surface providing a clue as to why she is creating a body of work out of materials so dark that some of her collectors are now afraid to visit her studio.
The answer is all around us.
"What exists in my community also exists in me," Masik says.
She calls her 69-painting series The Forgotten, and her work exudes the anger and sadness she feels knowing that dozens of women living in a world of abysmal poverty and incessant violence kept disappearing one after another for years, and hardly anyone cared.
"It's not right what happened," says Masik, her eyes welling up. "Everyone deserves a right to a dignified life. As an artist, I really felt driven to say something on a social level."
Though she hints at a personal history that taught her compassion for those who are abused, Masik says she is motivated primarily by a desire to create an artistic bridge between social classes.
"It doesn't seem like there's a lot of understanding, a lot of compassion, to help empower the people in less fortunate situations," she says.
"I'm hoping to affect people emotionally so maybe they're inspired to do something. I feel like I'm a voice for the issue. A lot of these women didn't have a voice, and their community didn't have a voice."
She intends to finish her project in June, and to find a public institution in Vancouver where the works will be shown, before she takes them across Canada.
Welcome to Masik's nightmare. It belongs to us all.
© Copyright (c) The Province