When a few women in the BC region went missing recently, like Shaelene Keeler Bell, the 23 year old Chilliwack woman who went missing and the Port Moody 48-year-old Trina Hunt who also seemingly vanished. Soon some started to wonder if there was an issue that police weren’t paying attention to in the region.
These aren’t the only women to go missing in BC of course, there are many who go missing around the nation. Every year many women across the country go missing. It’s unclear how many girls and women go missing in BC and throughout the country each year.
When those stories recently went viral about those missing women from the lower mainland, a discussion started about whether or not women might be safe in the area. Some questioned if women should be protecting themselves while out and walking.
Just recently, a video went viral of a Vancouver woman who showed that she was allegedly being stalked by a man behind her. She started video recording him following her. It’s alleged that he had followed the woman for more than 40 minutes before she reached to strangers for help. A report has also allegedly been filed with authorities now over the incident.
‘Prioritize Your Own Safety’ Says Vancouver Health Instructor
One self defense instructor from Vancouver has suggested that it is up to the women in BC to prioritize their safety more than anyone else, because no one else is going to do it the same way that you might. Some self defense instructors have recently seen a spike in interest from women in the region. There are some who might be looking for more information about protecting themselves, who could feel anxiety about the rumors swirling and stories coming to light about missing women.
The authorities in Vancouver have previously hosted free self-defense classes to any women in the region who might have been interested in learning some basics to potentially protect themselves if needed. In different places we’ve seen huge and positive community support for self defense classes that have been put on for free for women in the past in different areas.
In any year in Canada there might be tens of thousands of people who get reported missing. Some of them later get found or turn up, but there are still many who are never found. It is never known what happened to them. This includes thousands of children over the years who go missing around BC and throughout Canada too. In Canada, it is Indigenous women and children who are reportedly targeted more than any others for violence. They are said to be more than 10x more likely to be killed or to go missing.
Previously it has been found that BC has 2x the national rate of missing people
Authorities have previously insinuated that they don’t know the reasoning for this, why more people might be going missing in BC than other regions of Canada. The amount of murdered and missing Indigenous girls and women in BC and throughout Canada has been frequently referred to as an epidemic, and genocide.
It is an issue that many activists and others have been fighting to raise awareness of and fight for justice for victims around BC and elsewhere.
In different regions around the lower mainland a variety of approaches have been suggested to try and tackle the anxiety that people are feeling. One of those solutions has been a safe walk program that has been launched to help those who feel unsafe. There are many who might need to get home at night after work or school and feel that there is a high risk for them if they walk home alone. Luckily, some community members have come up with creative solutions to address that. One of them has been a volunteer program like a safe walk program that helps those who are feeling unsafe and partners them with someone to walk home with. They connect with the program and get to connect with someone who is going to voluntarily meet up with them and offer them that safe walk home with someone.
Another idea that a bar previously came up with to help women in trouble was giving a ‘code word’ safety option. They could use this code word with a certain shot that they would order if they were in trouble. These and other solutions have been tried, like free self defense classes for women in Vancouver and other BC regions, who might be in danger, but still many feel unsafe.
Just recently, dozens were seen marching for the missing and murdered Indigenous women in BC and around Canada, to raise awareness for this issue. People just want to feel safe in their communities. From free self defense classes and safe walk programs, there are different solutions being offered in communities around BC. Women have been reaching out to connect with others, and when they have reported an incident it helps authorities to track down serious threats in the community. It can also inspire others to come forward as well. Anyone with such an incident of being followed or feeling threatened etc, have been encouraged to report it so that authorities can properly investigate the issue.