Perhaps on initial thought, Valentine’s Day may not appear to be the most appropriate time to be discussing violence. However, while the origins of this day remain uncertain, claims have been made that the origins are associated with the Catholic Church who recognize at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.

An estimated 40 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year in Canada alone, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year, after Christmas. On the other hand, this Valentine’s Day a significant number of Canadians will be ignoring the hype of the greeting card producers’ holiday, instead showing their support and sense of community in the search for missing women.

Now in its 22nd year, The Annual Women’s Memorial March is held on Valentine’s Day to honour the memory of missing aboriginal women from the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver who have died due to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual violence. This area of Vancouver is home to some of the most vulnerable women: – with its high levels of drug use and prostitution it is often referred to as Canada’s poorest postal code. Despite the tragedy associated with this area, this march highlights the overwhelming sense of community within the neighbourhood.

Thousands will march this year carrying the roses normally given as a token of love, but on this day these roses will be used by many to symbolise the women who are missing or murdered. The march sends a powerful message this Valentine’s Day about the importance of doing your part to combat the denial of violence against women in our society.