Since the 1970s dozens of women, including many Indigenous women, living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside have been murdered or gone missing. The first Women’s Memorial March took place in 1992 to commemorate the life of a woman murdered on Powell Street and it has been held ever since to honour all women living in the Downtown Eastside.

The 30th Annual Women’s Memorial March happens on Sunday, February 14th 2021. The march starts at 12:00 PM from Main and Hastings (Carnegie Community Centre). There will be stops along the way to commemorate where women were last seen or found; speeches by community activists at Main and Hastings; a healing circle at Oppenheimer Park around 2:30 PM; and a social distanced community feast at the Japanese Language Hall. Physical distancing and masks are required. The march will also be live streamed. Please see the “February 14 Women’s Memorial March DTES” Facebook page for more information.

 

Additional Resources

Indigenous women living in the Downtown Eastside face disproportionate levels of violence, poverty and racism. To learn more about the experiences of Indigenous women living in the Downtown Eastside, please see the resources below.

 

“Survival, Strength, Sisterhood: Power of Women in the Downtown Eastside” by Alejandro Zuluaga and Harsha Walia: A short film that documents the 20 year history of the annual Women’s Memorial March for missing and murdered women in Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories. By focusing on the voices of women who live, love, and work in the Downtown Eastside this film debunks the sensationalism surrounding a neighbourhood deeply misunderstood, and celebrates the complex and diverse realities of women organizing for justice.

 

“Finding Dawn” by Christine Welsh: Dawn Crey. Ramona Wilson. Daleen Kay Bosse. These are just three of the estimated 500 Indigenous women who have gone missing or been murdered in Canada over the past thirty years. Directed by acclaimed Métis filmmaker Christine Welsh, Finding Dawn is a compelling documentary that puts a human face to this national tragedy. This is an epic journey into the dark heart of Indigenous women’s experience in Canada. From Vancouver’s skid row, where more than 60 women are missing, we travel to the Highway of Tears in northern British Columbia, and onward to Saskatoon, where the murders and disappearances of Indigenous women remain unresolved. Along the road to honour those who have passed, we uncover reason for hope. It lives in Indigenous rights activists Professor Janice Acoose and Fay Blaney. It drives events such as the annual Women’s Memorial March in Vancouver and inspires communities all along the length of Highway 16 to come together to demand change. Finding Dawn illustrates the deep historical, social and economic factors that contribute to the epidemic of violence against Indigenous women in this country. It goes further to present the ultimate message that stopping the violence is everyone’s responsibility. Find this film at UBC online or at X̱wi7x̱wa Library.

 

“Red Women Rising” report: Red Women Rising is an extraordinary report with Indigenous women survivors at the center; rather than as a secondary reference. Indigenous women in the Downtown Eastside (DTES)a neighbourhood known as ground zero for violence against Indigenous womenare not silent victims, statistics, or stereotypes. This unprecedented work shares their powerful first-hand realities of violence, residential schools, colonization, land, resource extraction, family trauma, poverty, labour, housing, child welfare, being two-spirit, police, prisons, legal system, opioid crisis, healthcare, and more.

 

“Remembering Vancouver’s Disappeared Women: Settler Colonialism and the Difficulty of Inheritance” by Amber Dean: Between the late 1970s and the early 2000s, at least sixty-five women, many of them members of Indigenous communities, were found murdered or reported missing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. In a work driven by the urgency of this ongoing crisis, which extends across the country, Amber Dean offers a timely, critical analysis of the public representations, memorials, and activist strategies that brought the story of Vancouver’s disappeared women to the attention of a wider public. Remembering Vancouver’s Disappeared Women traces “what lives on” from the violent loss of so many women from the same neighbourhood. This book is available online or physically from X̱wi7x̱wa Library.

 

“Keetsahnak / Our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Sisters” (Chapter 1) edited by Kim Anderson, Maria Campbell and Christi Belcourt: In Keetsahnak / Our Murdered and Missing Indigenous Sisters, the tension between personal, political, and public action is brought home starkly as the contributors look at the roots of violence and how it diminishes life for all. Together, they create a model for anti-violence work from an Indigenous perspective. They acknowledge the destruction wrought by colonial violence, and also look at controversial topics such as lateral violence, challenges in working with “tradition,” and problematic notions involved in “helping.” Through stories of resilience, resistance, and activism, the editors give voice to powerful personal testimony and allow for the creation of knowledge. This book is available online or physically from X̱wi7x̱wa Library.

For additional information and research help, please see X̱wi7x̱wa Library’s “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls (MMIWG)” research guide.

Need a break from academia? We’ve put together a selection of love-themed Indigenous reads for you and your family this Valentine’s Day and Reading Week. Find these resources at UBC’s Xwi7wxa Library or check your local public library.

Want even more loveable reads? Check out last year’s Valentine’s Day reading list.

 

The Bear’s Medicine, written and illustrated by Clayton Gauthier, is a story of a mother’s love for her children as she teaches them how to survive. The Bear’s Medicine shows the interconnectedness of all things in the world they live in and how each season brings changes and blessings for the bears. Words in English and Dakelh.

 

Relational Constellation, an anthology edited by Elizabeth LaPensée, provides a unique opportunity for audiences to hear from a myriad of American Indian and First Nations voices on the meaning of love. Here readers will find works of graphic literature, including both poetry and fiction, that explore how celestial bodies build and share creative intimacies.

 

Deception on All Accounts by Sara Sue Hoklotubbe is a novel for folks who like their mysteries spiced with some romance. This story follows the character Sadie Walela as she navigates identify, murder, love and her career and faces deception on all accounts. Check out the other books in the Sadie Walela series for more. Find this book at UBC in the library and online.

 

Genocidal Love: A Life After Residential School, by Bevann Fox, is a novel that weaves truth and fiction to examine “A residential school survivor’s complicated path toward healing and love. Genocidal Love delves into the long-term effects of childhood trauma on those who attended residential school and demonstrates the power of story to help in recovery and healing.” This book is currently on order at UBC and X̱wi7x̱wa Library, but is available at Vancouver Public Library.

 

Birdsong, by Julie Flett. When a young girl moves from the country to a small town, she feels lonely and out of place. But soon she meets an elderly woman next door, who shares her love of nature and art. As the seasons change, can the girl navigate the failing health of her new friend? Acclaimed author and artist Julie Flett’s textured images of birds, flowers, art, and landscapes bring vibrancy and warmth to this powerful story, which highlights the fulfillment of intergenerational relationships and shared passions. Words in Cree and English.

 

You Are Enough: Love Poems for the End of the World, Sumac Smokii: A curated selection from hundreds of poems written over two years of a near-daily haiku practice. Sections of selected poems such as ‘recovery,’ ‘courting,’ and ‘ceremony,’ tell a story of what 2016-2018 was like in the life of a two-spirit, transmasculine, Ktunaxa PhD Candidate in [his] late 20s, living in Peterborough Ontario.

 

Zaagi’idiwin: Silent, Unquestionable Act of Love by Leanna Marshall, creates an intersection where viewers meet to understand and explore the essence of relationships, the meaning of connection/disconnection, and the pain of loss. Through the making and documentation of jingle dresses, Marshall explores the deeply personal stories that have shaped her perception of the complexities of her family history in the context of Canadian history. The social inequities, resistance, and sorrow communicated in this body of work serve as a springboard to examine the act of compassion and forgiveness, which ultimately helps to move forward to a new and more affirmative place of being.

CW: Sexual Assault and Violence. If you need assistance, the WAVAW Crisis Line provides immediate emotional support 24 hours a day at 604-255-6344 or Toll-Free at 1-877-392-7583.

January is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) at UBC (see link for upcoming events). We take this time to raise awareness about the prevalence of sexual assault, share information on available resources, and encourage people to take action to prevent sexualized violence.

The Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office (SVPRO) will be partnering with SFU on providing engagement opportunities in January. Keep an eye on the SAAM website for updates to their calendar of events.

Support and Services at UBC:

  • The Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office (SVPRO) is a confidential place for those who have experienced, or been impacted by, any form of sexual or gender-based violence, harassment, or harm, regardless of where or when it took place. All genders and sexualities are welcome. Currently services are only available online or over the phone. You can call them at 604-822-1588 or email them at svpro.vancouver@ubc.ca.
  • AMS Sexual Assault Support Center is committed to the education, support, and empowerment of people of all genders who are survivors of sexualized violence, as well as their friends and family. If you need help or want to talk to someone, they can be contacted at 604-872-5180 or sasc@ams.ubc.ca
  • UBC Safewalk provides a way to get from one point on campus to another, safely, after dark. Their walking teams mean you don’t have to walk alone. Measures are in place to follow COVID-19 regulations to keep everyone safe.
  • S.A.R.A. (Sexual Assault & Rape Awareness) is an on-campus, student-led prevention campaign that promotes healthy, consensual sexual activity and educates the campus community to be an active bystander and stand up against rape culture.

Educational Resources:

Support Services for Survivors:

  • WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre: offers trauma-informed feminist support to survivors of sexualized violence. Their services are open to cis and trans women and people of all marginalized genders, including Two-Spirit, trans, and non-binary people.
  • Fraser Health Sexual Assault and Violence Resources: provides resources to learn how to get help, the process for reporting incidents to the police, aftercare, and information about forensic nursing services.
  • BC Women’s Sexual Assault Service: provides care to anyone 13 years or older who has been sexually assaulted within the past 7 days.
  • Rape Victim’s Support Network: provides peer counselling and practical help, including advocacy and referrals, to those victimized by rape.
  • Battered Women’s Support Services: provides education, advocacy, and support services to assist all women with the aim to work towards the elimination of violence and to work from a feminist perspective that promotes equality for all women.

December is the perfect time to stay home, get cozy, and share the story-telling tradition with your family. Oral storytelling is an important tradition in Indigenous communities across North America, and reading aloud to the next generation is a beautiful way to honour that tradition.

Check out the resources below available through our library, the National Film Board, and beyond.

Picture Books Available Online

Claire and Her Grandfather = Claire et son Grand-Père

  • “The story of Claire and her Grandfather is designed to enhance young people’s awareness of some of the many contributions and inventions by Aboriginal people. The story is meant to be a versatile teaching tool for children ages 7-12, although older students might enjoy the story and its images. Teachers of children in the target age group can use the story to initiate a broader examination of the many historical and contemporary contributions of First Nations and Inuit to Canada and the world.”

Further Reading

How Things Came To Be by Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley

Cloudwalker by Robert Budd and Roy Henry Vickers

Kiss by Kiss by Richard Van Camp

May we have enough to share by Richard Van Camp

My heart fills with happiness = Ni sâkaskineh mîyawâten niteh ohcih by Monique Gray Smith

 Not My Girl by Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton 

 

Streaming Media through the National Film Board

Before you get started, please refer to our guide to streaming media through UBC.

 

Wapos Bay

Maq & Spirit of the Woods 

 

Happy storytelling!

 

 

November 2020 is the 6th anniversary of Indigenous Disability Awareness Month in B.C. and across Canada. The B.C. Aboriginal Network on Disability Society notes that “Indigenous people in Canada experience a disability rate significantly higher than that of the general population. Indigenous Disability Awareness Month (IDAM) brings awareness of these barriers and issues that Indigenous peoples and their families living with disabilities face every day. More importantly, we celebrate their achievements and recognize the significant and valuable contributions they make to our communities socially, economically, and culturally.”

In relation to Indigenous Disability Awareness Month X̱wi7x̱wa Library hoped to produce a booklist of #ownvoices fiction, non-fiction and scholarly sources related to Indigenous experiences of disability. After searching UBC’s scholarly resources, Twitter, GoodReads, Google, we found a gap in fiction, non-fiction and scholarly writing on this topic.

We’d love to hear from you: what are your recommendations for #ownvoices reading or media about Indigenous experiences of disability? Email us at xwi7xwa.library@ubc.ca!

At UBC, the Crane Library is available to support students with disabilities through the Centre for Accessibility.

 

Researching Disability and Indigeneity

The language used to define and discuss disability, or differing abilities, is often context dependent and especially so in Indigenous communities. Beliefs about wellness and unwellness are different from community to community and often expanded to include the impact of colonization. Research about disability and Indigenous people is limited but is located primarily at the intersection of Disability Studies and Indigenous Studies, although it could encompass other areas of study (e.g.: education, social work, occupational therapy). Please bear in mind that some of the terminology used to do research about disability and Indigeneity may be outdated.

Start your research using the UBC catalogue or Summon. Please visit X̱wi7x̱wa Library’s First Nations and Indigenous Studies research guide for more information about doing research. Please email xwi7xwa.library@ubc.ca for additional research support.

Useful keywords for searching UBC Summon and databases might include:

Combine keywords related to Indigenous identity with keywords about your topic. For example: Indigenous AND disability

  • Indigenous
  • Aboriginal
  • race
  • disability / disabilities
  • accessibility
  • ableism
  • wellness
  • Terminology specific to different abilities (deaf, deafened, Sign Language, Indigenous Sign Language, etc.)
  • Terminology specific to Indigenous communities (Cree, Métis, Inuit, etc.)

See X̱wi7x̱wa Library’s “First Nations and Indigenous Studies” guide for additional information about searching using keywords and finding Indigenous perspectives.

Some useful subject heading for searching UBC Summon might include:

(Native people with disabilities)

(“Aboriginal Canadians” AND Disabilities)

(“Disabled people” AND “Native American studies”)

Useful journals and other e-resources might include:

Disability & Society

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Native Health Database

iPortal

Routledge Handbooks Online

Core Indigenous Studies journals

Indigenous health databases and statistics

 

Fiction and Non-Fiction

Below, you’ll find some adult and children’s books written by self-identified Indigenous authors with disabilities, Indigenous literature with differently abled characters, and books on the topic of disability. Unless otherwise noted, all books listed are available at a UBC Library for currently registered students, faculty and staff. For community borrowers, please check for these books at your local public library. If your library does not carry a book that you want, you can often request the library purchase it.

Adult Books & Media

Heart Berries: a memoir by Theresa Marie Mailhot: In this memoir, Mailhot chronicles her experience living with chronic mental illness.

“Seed Children” by Mari Kurisato in Love After the End. Love After the End is a new two-spirit, Indigiqueer science fiction/fantasy anthology, currently available as an ebook with the physical book on order at Vancouver Public Library.

Aboriginal Sign Languages of the Americas and Australia edited by D. Jean Umiker-Sebeok and Thomas Sebeok:

Indian Sign Language by William Tomkins: An unabridged and corrected re-publication of the 1931 fifth edition of the work originally published by the author in San Diego, California under the title Universal Indian Sign Language of the Plains Indians of North America.

My Sister by Thirza Cuthand and Danielle Ratslaff (streaming media): Two thoughtful young friends openly discuss their relationship with their sisters, both of whom have intellectual disabilities.

You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie: In this 2017 memoir, the author recounts his childhood hydrocephaly, alcoholism and bipolar disorder.

All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism: “Delve into poetry, essays, short fiction, photography, paintings, and drawings in the first-ever anthology entirely by autistic people of color, featuring 61 writers and artists from seven countries. The work here represents the lives, politics, and artistic expressions of Black, Brown, Latinx, Indigenous, Mixed-Race, and other racialized and people of color from many autistic communities, often speaking out sharply on issues of marginality, intersectionality, and liberation.” Available at Vancouver Public Library.

My only daughter : Karina Beth-Ann Wolfe / producer/director, Grace Smith: “Carole Wolfe, a deaf Indigenous woman in Saskatoon, bravely shares the story of her daughter’s disappearance in 2010. Told in American Sign Language.”

Children’s Books

Native Athletes in Action! By Vincent Schilling (for middle grade ages): In Chapter 3, readers meet Cheri Becerra-Madsen (Omaha) a wheelchair racing Olympian and world record holder who lost use of her legs at age 3.

Tribal Journey by Gary Robinson (for middle grade ages): “Sixteen-year-old Jason is left with a paralyzed leg after a car accident and it is only after becoming involved with his Duwamish mother’s tribe and learning to “pull” a canoe that he begins to see himself as more than a boy in a wheelchair.”

Spirit Bear and Children Make History (for elementary grade ages): “Hello! My name is Sus Zul in the Carrier language. In English, people call me Spirit Bear. I am a proud member of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council. I am on my way to Ottawa, Ontario, to witness a very important human rights case. Would you join me on this journey?” When Spirit Bear’s mom tells him about an important human rights case happening in Ottawa, Ontario, he makes the LONG trip (by train, his favourite way to travel) to go and watch, and to stand up for First Nations kids. And he isn’t the only one! Lots of children come too — to listen, and to show they care. Spirit Bear knows that children can change the world because he’s there to see it happen. This is the story of how kids — kids just like you — made a difference … with a bit of help from some bears and other animals along the way!”

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