Vancouver Art Gallery shoe memorial recognizes lives of murdered women in B.C.

On Dec. 6, more than 1,000 pairs of women’s shoes will be placed on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery to commemorate women killed as a result of violence in British Columbia. The names of each murdered woman will be displayed alongside the donated shoes.

“The whole concept of the day was not about blame, but about honouring and remembering all the victims that we're aware of in B.C, so each year more shoes are added and more names are added to the names on display," said Tima Dickerson, coordinator of the event and chair of the Women’s Committee of United Food & Commercial Workers Union local 247.

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Dickerson said the Shoe Memorial, now in its 16th year, is a powerful visual representation of the number of women’s lives lost to violence. In Canada, on average every six days a woman is murdered by an intimate partner said Dickerson.

She added that violence against women is a global issue, pointing out that last year the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported 87,000 women were murdered globally.

“It’s a message that still needs to get out there. Sadly so many women are still losing their lives needlessly,” Dickerson said.

The Shoe Memorial is one of many gatherings across the country on Dec. 6, which coincides with Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. The day commemorates the 14 women who were murdered at Montréal's École Polytechnique in 1989.

Thursday’s Shoe Memorial brings attention to the ongoing violence against women with a visual demonstration to express the growing number of victims, said Dickerson, and is  an opportunity to start a conversation and educate the public.  

“Having the visual impact of all those shoes, people stop. People want to know what this is about,” she said.

Following the memorial, the shoes will be donated to women’s shelters and children in need.

The Shoe Memorial begins at 8 a.m. with a ceremony at 1 p.m. featuring speakers from the community, volunteer organizations and those honouring who have lost family members.

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