C.J. Julien stood before the entrance of the Vancouver Police station at 312 Main Street today, recounting the time a police officer had knocked on her door.
“Is your sister Norma George?” the officer had asked her in September of 1992. When Julien said she was, the officer continued: “We found your sister dead…somebody dumped her in Aldergrove.”
Voice trembling, Julien spoke into a microphone just before 3 p.m. She was the final speaker to address the vast crowd who had come for the 19th annual Women’s Memorial March, despite the whirlwind of Olympic activity.
The ceremony, which always takes place on Valentine’s Day, commemorates the lives of missing and murdered women, particularly those with ties to the Downtown Eastside and aboriginal communities.
“This isn’t a protest or performance,” one volunteer explained to a curious tourist. “This is the real Vancouver.”
As previously reported, a United Nations Committee has highlighted the disproportionate victimization of aboriginal women, stating that their cases “have neither been fully investigated nor attracted priority attention.”
Attention was significant on the streets of the Downtown Eastside this afternoon.
One cycling police officer told the Tyee that the crowd spanned for a solid three blocks. The Vancouver Sun estimates that 800 people attended, while the Canadian Press pegged the number closer to 1,200. Many repeat participants said it was the largest turnout they had ever seen.