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15th Annual Shoe Memorial

December 6, 8:00 am to 3:00pm, Ceremony at 1pm

Vancouver Art Gallery - Robson Street Side, plus other locations across B.C. & Canada

It was the early 2000s, and Pat Kelln was frustrated.

Pat was deeply affected by the never-ending horror of women being murdered, abused, and victimized by violence.

Public concern was fleeting, and something new needed to be done. It was clear to Pat and the small grass-roots group of women with her that a jolt was needed to get the message out to the public about the plague of violence.

The Shoe Memorial was about to be born.

“Pat’s goal,” says Suzanne Hodge, president of UFCW Local 247, “was to create a powerful public display that would be a blunt, in-your-face reminder of how many women continue to be killed.” 

“The Shoe Memorial honours the memory of murdered women by placing a set of shoes for each victim on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery, with their names displayed,” says Hodge.

“Seeing those massive stone steps covered with shoes and names is not something you forget,” she says, “and the Shoe Memorial has become an important event every December 6 to help raise awareness about violence.”

“Pat also saw this event as something anyone could do without a lot of cost,” says Hodge. “Every woman has a pair of shoes, runners or boots in a closet that she doesn't wear anymore, and it’s been gratifying to see the Shoe Memorial idea spread to other communities in BC, and across Canada too.”

“We share Pat’s commitment to remember the victims,” says Hodge, “while reminding the public about violence against women. The focus isn’t to blame, but to remember the victims – the mothers, daughters, and sisters that no longer walk with us as a result of violence, and work towards ending this brutality.”

Brochures and info for the public on the issue of violence are distributed, including info on how to get help if someone you know is in a violent situation.

The Shoe Memorial, now in its 15th year, takes place each year on December 6, and is one of many gatherings and memorials across Canada to mark the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, which commemorates the 14 women who were murdered on December 6, 1989 at Montréal's École Polytechnique as the victims of gender-based violence.

Pat Kelln’s legacy and UFCW Local 247

“It was a hard loss when Pat passed away in January (2017),” says Suzanne Hodge, “but she and her co-founders of the Shoe Memorial created a lasting legacy. We are flattered that among Pat’s final requests was for Local 247 to pick up the torch upon her passing, and organize and coordinate the annual event.

“Pat saw the dedication of Local 247 activists,” says Hodge, “whose time, energy, and commitment to this has grown and grown over the years, and came to see Local 247 as the kind of progressive organization that could help make sure the Shoe Memorials would continue, and continue to speak for those victims of violence whose voices have been silenced.” 

You can help, even if you can’t be there…

The organizers of the Shoe Memorial are always looking for donations of gently used shoes or new shoes, ideally before November 20. Please contact Tima Dickerson at 604-535-8329 or tdickerson@ufcw247.com to make arrangements to donate shoes.

What happens to the Shoe Memorial shoes?

“In Canada alone there are still over 100,000 women and children who have to run from the violence and abuse in their homes for women’s shelters every year,” says Hodge. “Each year, all the shoes and boots gathered for the memorial are donated to women's emergency shelters. These shelters look after women and children who have escaped violent households, often with just the clothes on their backs.”

  • ufcw [at] ufcw247 [dot] com