Oppal Missing Women Commission of Inquiry – 11 group Women’s Equality and Security Coalition (WESC) requests full standing

Thursday, February 3, 2011
Louisa Russell, Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter

I was proud to watch on Monday January 31, 2011 as the 11-group Women’s Equality and Security Coalition (WESC) requested full standing in the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.

The coalition consists of the following groups:

Aboriginal Women’s Action Network (AWAN)
Asian Women Coalition Ending Prostitution (AWCEP)
BC Coalition of Childcare Advocates
Exploited Voices now Educating (EVE)
Justice for Girls
National Congress of Black Women
BC Council of Women
Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres (CASAC)
Poverty and Human Rights Center
Vancouver University Women’s Club
Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter (my collective)
Commissioner Wally Oppal began the proceedings by addressing a room packed with groups that seek standing in the Inquiry. “The trial and investigation revealed some of the most horrific crimes in human history. Crimes against women, crimes against vulnerable women, crimes against humanity,” said Oppal. “The social issue, the legal issue of missing women is a national issue. Therefore we look forward to your advice so that these tragedies may be averted.”

Gwen Brodsky, legal counsel for WESC, delivered an impressive presentation based on the agreements worked out among our groups and on our decades of frontline experience and expertise on policing, on women’s inequality and our vulnerability to violence. The submission was firmly grounded in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and its substantive equality guarantees for all women.

WESC is a remarkable coalition of organizations comprising activists, academics,front line service workers, Aboriginal women, racialized women, poor women, women that have escaped male violence.

I was truly moved to experience so much strength and unity among women’s groups, especially at a time when they are starved of government funding.

The Commission received 22 requests for standing. Oppal automatically granted standing to the Vancouver Police Department, the RCMP, the justice system, and a group of family members of missing and murdered women. Oppal will review the other applicants’ submissions and make selections by the end of February.

Louisa Russell
for the Collective Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter

WESC Member Profile: Selected publications, appearances and other activities of WESC Members