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Police Chief Chu announces program to protect women

 We are standing today in the heart of a community where women are especially vulnerable to violence and danger.  They are the victims of predatory drug dealers and others who exploit them and abuse them.

The Vancouver Police Department is committed to making life safer for these women, but we know we can’t do it alone.

A few weeks ago we told you about the Guardian Project, which was a program to end violence against women in the downtown east side. 

It is only fitting that today, which is the National Day of Remembrance and Action to end violence against women, that we launch a new and improved version of our original project.

Through many hours of consultation with the community, it was decided that a more effective name would be Sister Watch.  It would also be consistent with our other crime prevention programs Bar Watch and Restaurant Watch and, of course, Block Watch.

So today we are officially changing the name and launching Sister Watch. To be clear, this is not a Vancouver Police exclusive program. We are grateful to our many community partners.

We are especially grateful to Marlene George, Alice Kendall, Stella August, Dalannah Bowen and Davina Ridley who joined us today from the Women’s Memorial March Committee and who have been with us on this project from the beginning

The Mayor will tell you in a moment about his concerns for public safety in the Downtown Eastside, but I would like to first thank him and the City for their generous donations.

Bus shelters like this one across the city were made available to us and our message through a City program. Then the good people at CBS Outdoor Canada upped the ante with more shelters bringing the number to 18. These will be in place until April providing us with a total value of more than a quarter of a million dollars.

I would like to thank David Struthers who is with us today from CBS.

You can also see nearby a sign provided by City engineering that we urge people to call the Sister Watch tip line. That will move around the community over the next few weeks keeping awareness high.

Hundreds of these business cards will be handed out on the street with the same message as the posters.

And of course, our offer of a $10,000 reward for information concerning the sudden death of Ashley Machiskinic remains a key part of Sister Watch.

The levels of violence against women in this community must not be tolerated.  We must all work together to reduce this violence.  

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