A column of the DTES Power of Women group
Hello! Thank you to the Downtown East for hosting our Power Hour column.
We want to start by introducing ourselves.
We are the Downtown Eastside Power of Women Group: self-identified women from all walks of life who are either on social assistance, working poor, or homeless in the Downtown Eastside. Many of us are single mothers or have had our children apprehended due to poverty; most of us have chronic physical or mental health issues for example HIV and Hepatitis C; many have drug or alcohol addictions; and a majority have experienced and survived sexual violence and mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional abuse. For indigenous women, we are affected by a legacy of the effects of residential schools and a history of colonization and racism.
We come together every week, anywhere from 15-40 women, to empower ourselves through our experiences and to raise awareness from our perspectives as women about the social issues affecting the neighbourhood. We discuss and take action on violence against women, child apprehension, housing, homelessness, residential schools, police, and health issues. We are also concerned about issues outside the Downtown Eastside because our minds must go beyond our neighourhood and we see all these struggles together. We go to rallies for the environment and to stand up against pipelines and mines on Indigenous lands; we rally against prison expansion
and war expansion; and we support workers like the postal workers strike, immigrants and refugees, young students, and other communities.
1. Safe, supported, and long-term affordable housing should be available immediately. This housing should be controlled, maintained, and directed by residents of the DTES.
2. Women who are survivors of violence, especially those with children, should be given high priority for affordable housing.
3. No housing units, including supportive housing and special-needs residential facilities, should be exempt from the Residential Tenancy Act.
4. Rent controls as well as price controls on foods and other basic necessities.
5. No condominium development in the DTES and an immediate moratorium on conversions of low-income housing into tourist, student, or market rental housing. No one should be forcibly evicted or displaced from their homes due to gentrification.
6. An end to police ticketing and violence.
7. All women should have access to subsidized childcare instead of apprehending children due to poverty.
8. A community-driven and independent international UN inquiry into the missing and murdered women should be established immediately.
9. Social assistance rates should be increased by 50 percent, and barriers to accessing assistance should be removed.
10. All levels of government should implement a living wage of at least $16 per hour.
We do most of our work, including attending meetings, without honorariums because we believe in volunteering for our community from our heart. We love our group, it is like a family, where we feel safe and empowered and
many of us have found our voices. We invite you to join our group and to learn more about what we do. We want to make this neighbourhood better for all of us, where all low-income people especially women feel safe, secure, and have a voice. Thank you. We love you all.