SUPPORT FOR THE FIRST NATION MEMORIAL POLE
by Harue Kanemitsu
The JCCA Human Rights Committee was asked to give a presentation with a letter of support to the Vancouver Parks Board Commission for a memorial pole for the 33 murdered First Nation women.
Organizer Kelly White, CRAB Water for Life Society, and Missing Murdered Women Memorial March group planned for a vigil before the meeting of the VPBC on 24 June. A smudge ceremony to the Four Directions opened the vigil. Musqueam Shane Point followed the Salish Protocol on behalf of the Squamish, Burrard, and Tsawwassen First Nations to welcome everyone to their territory. He was presented with a ceremonial blanket, along with Commissioner Chair Sarah Blythe, and Klahoose Chief James Delorme. A theme medicine bundle was given to the Commission, and accepted by the Chair. Mary Point led the drumming and singing, ending with the Women Warriors’ song.
Jill Weaving and a coworker had a power point presentation describing the background of this project and discussed potential sites at CRAB Park. The red cedar pole is to be donated by the Klahoose Nation.
Speakers who presented included the aforementioned, Union of BC Indian Chiefs President Stewart Phillip, Aboriginal Front Door Mona Woodward, Chinese Veterans’ President Paul Lee, JCCA HRC Harue Kanemitsu, and Kelly White, who also read letters of support from Green Adrian Carr, and Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre Carol Martin.
The Commissioners each commented after the presentation, and the initiative was passed for the Klahoose Musqueam Protocol for the Memorial Pole on June, 2014.
Below are excerpts from the JCCA HRC statement:
“The JCCA’s mandate is ‘to protect and promote the past, present, and future rights and democratic freedom of all persons, regardless of race, religion, age, sex, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, and marital, family, or economic status.’
“The Human Rights Committee acts to uphold this mandate. We as a Committee, feel that events of injustice in the past need to be brought to light to prevent such errors from surfacing again….We, as evolving human beings, learn, and educate others so we may all live healthy, productive lives. People whose lives have been taken away from them, who have not lived a full life, represent a great loss to our society….
“The Pole will remind us to be more vigilant when signals of distress and injustice surface. We, as a community, cannot continue to blame victims; victims who succumb to injustice. The cause of the circumstances which led to situations to which there are such victims needs to be examined. Our society must be alert to the misguided mores under which we currently operate….
“We will encourage engagement of the JCCA in events that lead to the unveiling ceremony for the Pole to be held in June, 2014.”
Harue Kanemitsu is a member of the JCCA Human Rights Committee