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.

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

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

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 do want to talk about the DTES and sex work, then 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 in peace.”


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