DTES WOMEN DEMAND JUSTICE IN MURDER OF LISA ARLENE FRANCIS
FRI JULY 31 @ 4:00 PM CRAB PARK: REMEMBRANCE AND HEALING CEREMONY
July 28, 2009 VANCOUVER – Women in the Downtown Eastside Womens' Centre Power to Women Group are deeply shocked and outraged by the homicide of Lisa Arlene Francis, also known as Lisa Kireche, who was found floating in the Fraser River. They will be hosting a remembrance and healing ceremony for Lisa's friends and community at 4 pm on Fri July 31 at Crab Park in
“Lisa was a dedicated volunteer at the Downtown Eastside Womens' Centre and a member of the DTES Power to Women Group. She was a lovely woman, always smiling and willing to help and listen. Her tragic death has left us shocked and angry and has left a significant void in our community,” states Madeline A.
According to Anne Marie Monks, a member of the DTES Power to Women Group, “We have to understand that violence against women in always unacceptable. Every single person in Vancouver should be grieving for the loss of this precious life and be outraged at this murder. Women living in the DTES and women in the sex trade are all mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers and friends, and deserve the same level of compassion and justice as any other murder victim.”
Stella August, an Elder and member of the DTES Power to Women Group agrees, “Every person deserves full respect and dignity. This death makes me so angry, but does it affect people in other nieghbourhoods who think Lisa is just another dead DTES hooker?”
“The heinous and unimaginable violence that has taken the lives of so many women in the DTES is a present-day reality. This has not gone away with Robert Pickton behind bars. Every year the list of murdered and missing
women continues to grow,” states Pat Harem, a long time DEWC member and volunteer. According to the Missing Women’s Task Force, there are still 39 women officially listed as missing from the DTES.
Women in the neighbourhood are demanding justice in the murder of Lisa and all the missing and murdered women. According to Beatrice Starr, a Native woman with the DTES Power of Women Group and long-time resident of the DTES, “My sister was murdered many years ago and to this day it remains unresolved. The police always push the cases of women in the DTES to the backburner because it is not seen as a societal priority. We are not going to stand by and let Lisa become another statistic.”
Women in the community are also urging people to understand the complex realities of living in the DTES: “Why is our society never able to see beyond the labels and the stereotypes of DTES or sex worker? To me, Lisa was an incredibly kind and gentle woman,” comments Diane Letcuk, long-time DEWC member and volunteer. “If you want to talk about the DTES and sex work, then also question the systems and policies that perpetuate poverty, inequality, and violence and create the conditions for very few choices for women to survive.”
Sandra Pronteau, a DTES activist and former sex trade worker reveals, “Even if this murder was an intentional one that targeted Lisa specifically– such as an ex boyfriend- it has instilled fear and insecurity in the minds and lives of all women who work the streets. It
has highlighted yet again that any of us could be next and nothing is being done to stop that! In fact the opposite is happening, with cutting of services like the MAP van. We, the residents of the DTES, want details and answers so we can lay Lisa Arelene Francis to rest in peace.”
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MEDIA LIAISONS (To arrange interviews): Harsha Walia at 778.885.0040