The following was read to the Vancouver Parks Board at their regular meeting on July 23rd, 2012 by COPE Park Committee Co-Chair Mia Edbrooke.
Parks Board Commissioners,
Thank you for allowing me to speak to the proposed Irish Canadian Monument. My name is Mia Edbrooke, and I am here speaking on behalf of the Coalition of Progressive Electors Park Board Committee.
Please understand that I am not opposed to the monument itself, but rather the location in Thornton Park. As I’m sure that you are aware Thornton Park is also home to the Marker of Change, the Women’s Monument that was erected in 1997 to commemorate the 14 murdered women in the Montreal Massacre. These women were targeted due to their gender, which was made clear by the separation of women and men during the attack, and by the suicide note left by Marc Lepine. Femicide continues to occur in the city of Vancouver; cases of murdered and missing women have been documented, particularly in the Downtown Eastside, where Thornton Park is located, and not fully addressed. In fact, the Marker of Change is often used by women’s groups to commemorate women in Vancouver who have met violent ends.
It is also important to note that a group of feminists fought to have the Marker of Change installed in a public place. From fundraising, to the inscription, which reads “for all women murdered by men”, the Marker of Change monument took seven years to reach completion. This long period of time speaks to the struggle to create something permanent to remember women who have been lost to violence.
The search for justice continues. All women’s groups have dropped out of the Missing Women’s Inquiry, one lawyer representing aboriginal women resigned out of frustration. The justice system has failed these women and their families. The work and message sent by the Marker of Change unfortunately still rings true, violence by men against women continues to be ignored by society and the government, and needs to be acknowledged in order for any change to occur.
And the struggle continues.
I realize there were consultations related to the proposal for the Irish Canadian monument, however the groups who participated are not public and it is difficult for me to comment on this process. More importantly, I feel that having an additional commemorative in Thornton Park would detract from the existing women’s memorial. I would like the Park Board to realize the sensitive nature of this issue. I would like the location of the monument reconsidered.
Again, I want to be clear that I do not object to Irish Canadian Monument. It is my understanding that historically, many Irish Canadians settled in East Vancouver, where the area around Main Street near St. Patrick’s Catholic Church was one of the most highly concentrated areas, hence the name of the church. The COPE Park Board Committee believes that the memorial belongs further up Main Street, at 12th Avenue. I strongly urge you to reconsider the current location of the Irish Canadian Monument at Thornton Park, please choose a space that is more appropriate to the history of Irish Canadians in the City of Vancouver.
– COPE Parks Board Committee members Anita Romaniuk & Mia Edbrooke