Monthly Archives: February 2012

More on the Women’s Memorial March, Valentine’s Day 2012

Continued from the last post [all photos courtesy of Jimmy and digitally enhanced by me].

Valentine’s Day was perhaps just like any other day of the year, but today I was doing something different, something that had already been going on in Vancouver for 21 years, every Valentine’s, but something that only a selection of people really know about. 

Getting off the “8 Downtown” bus in front of Carnegie Centre, I was greeted by the sight of a huge group of people on the sidewalk in front of the community centre, spilling out onto the streets. There was food being handed out and people were standing in their own clusters, with a handful of people alone, slightly on the outskirts. I was one of those people; it felt intrusive somehow, to go up to these intimate clusters of people, because it wasn’t my grief, my sorrow, to share in.

Before the actual marching part of the march started, we followed the drums and the elders to the intersection of the street outside of Carnegie Centre. There, we had what I could only describe as a “drum round”, and the song was sung that would be a continuous motif running through the narrative of the march. [I apologize for the audio quality in advance, I didn’t take it, but am glad someone did!]

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21st Annual Women’s Memorial March: DTES

**I know that this is a graffiti/street art appreciation blog based primarily on graffiti found in Vancouver, but seeing as this is also a blog in which culture plays a significant role, I had deemed this post (and subsequent related ones) pertinent to the blog.

Today on Valentine’s (rather yesterday, since it’s past midnight), I took part in the Women’s Memorial March in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside as it started out at Carnegie Hall and then went in a wide circle to stop in front of the Police Station quite close to where the march began. It was, to say the least, a powerful experience, and one that I probably wouldn’t have participated in if not for the Canadian Society course I’m currently taking.

I don’t remember being in that particular part of the downtown core before and it was all in all, a distinctly different experience than all the horror (and horribly biased) stories you’ve probably been told about the most marginalized area in Vancouver, just a few blocks away from big name international boutiques like Louis Vuitton. There are simply too many things that have made an impression on me, and I’m definitely too tired to record it all at the moment, so just a heads up because more posts about this will be forthcoming in the next week or so! During the march however, (a friend told me we were maybe 1000* strong? It’s impossible to tell while you’re in the crowd how big it really is) it felt like there was a lot of standing around and waiting, and it was not surprising that most of my classmates had left before the march really ended back at the police station. I didn’t particularly mind the standing around and waiting because I knew that although I couldn’t always see that things were happening from where I was in the crowd, things were always happening; there were always roses left behind, ceremonies that were conducted to remember the missing women who were last seen at the places where we had stopped.

More on all of that later! I will soon have access to the pictures my friend took of the march (and perhaps a few of some graffiti we saw along the way, if they turn out) and will post them later on when I get them/have time. In the meantime, please check out: Georgia Straight for access to some of the pictures taken during the march and also this YouTube video which should give you a gist of the song that was sung throughout the duration of the march.

*Edit 2/18/2012: It was published in 24 hours (local free newspaper) that there were approximately 800 people at the march this year.

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At the Next Stop…

Walking around Dunlevy Ave. close to Waterfront on a chilly October morning…

Spontaneous tags on private property are not uncommon in the Downtown Eastside.

Entering yet another alley…

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