Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes says the annual Take Back the Night march, which is held at the end of September each year, stirs up some deep emotions within.
“When we go down to the [Women’s Memorial] Monument and we start listening to the stories and we see the women’s names who are missing and murdered — as a woman in leadership, I always leave profoundly sad,” Oakes says.
To make matters worse, she says, two separate families came to talk to her over the constituent break in December and told her tragic stories of the loss of their loved ones.
She took it as a challenge to do more to protect endangered people province-wide.
Last Tuesday (May 14), Michael Lee, the Liberal MLA for Vancouver-Langara, introduced the Interpersonal Violence Disclosure Act in legislature.
Also known as Clare’s Law, the bill will allow at-risk individuals to access information about their partner’s potentially abusive or violent past.
“This bill will be especially impactful for women,” Lee said in a press release. “Unfortunately, women in B.C. are four times more likely than men to be victims of intimate partner violence.”
Oakes has thrown her support behind the bill.
“Access to this type of information will help at-risk individuals remove themselves from dangerous situations,” she said in a press release.
“This bill is part of a larger effort to protect those who may be in danger. We still need more resources to provide essential supports to individuals in potentially dangerous situations throughout B.C.”
Although she is the first to admit this will not solve every domestic violence issue, Oakes thinks it is a step in the right direction.
“I recognize that this is just a really small step … and there’s so much more wrap-around supports that need to happen,” she says, “but in these complex issues, we just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.”
Clare’s Law is very similar to legislation introduced in Saskatchewan in 2018. The concept originated in the U.K. after the 2009 death of Clare Wood, who was murdered by her partner. Wood was unaware of the man’s violent past.
“For me, it is that signal back to the families that we have not forgotten,” says Oakes.
“They’re not forgotten, and we will continue to push for more supports, so we don’t see any additional names on that monument.”