Candlelight Vigil
for Cassandra Antoine

Friday, June 13, 1997

To honour and pay respect to slain sex worker Cassandra Antoine, who was brutally murdered on or about June 1, 1997. The parking lot of the Patricia Hotel, 403 East Hastings Street, Friday June 13, at 8:00 p.m..

About 40 people showed up for the vigil. Lots of press, BCTV, UTV, three radio stations (including 1130) and three still cameras and notepads at least.

Introductions were done by Jamie Lee Hamilton. The first speaker was City Councillor Nancy Chiavario followed by Barb Daniels, a long-time community activist in the downtown eastside. Next spoke a long-time Downtown Eastside lawyer Connie Fogel [sp]. Jamie Lee Hamilton spoke next who read a poem devoted to Cassandra written by a Downtown Eastside poet. She then invited Cindy Chan Piper of the Grandview Woodlands Neighbourhood Action Group (residents' group that aims to move the hookers out of the east end) to stand beside her and spoke about how her and Cindy are often at lagerheads, but we all have to work together. (Another residents' group member, Margaret, the little asian retired school teacher, was also there.)

Next Spoke Viola Thomas, President of the United Native Nations, who talked about the city plan for a "bubble zone." The bubble gum approach. It is Native women who are desparate and working in this profession. The City's response is to keep these women away. Move them around. Move them away from schools and community centres by creating a bubble zone. She also talked about systemic racism and sexism.

Then Cassandra's mother, Annette Antoine, spoke. She was a young (maybe 35) Native woman wearing large dark glasses. She told us that Cassandra was her only child. She said that Cassandra was raised a Catholic and that she was raised with "the "living god" in her home. She was artistic and also a poet. There is a mural of an angel still on the wall where she went to school. Cassandra had also had Navajo teachings. Annette also talked a bit about how to protect your children from sexual abuse, to be careful of your boyfriends or sister's boyfriends anyone who might abuse your daughter.

After Annette, a Native man asked to speak. He said that we all have to work harder and that he wanted to sing a song. He formed a drumming circle with three other people and around a large drum and performed three songs. When they started up, someone from the top floor of the Patricia Hotel hurled down a CD and case at them.

As people spoke the mother prayed, raising a candle, an eagle feather and smouldering sweetgrass.

Viola Thomas then spoke again and read a poem by a friend of Cassandra's, Linda Daniels. Her friend called Cassandra a Squamish beauty, the poem repeated, "you could have been a model." Cassandra is also survived by a daughter, Sky who will be raised by her grandmother.


[Whore Wars] [Rights Groups]

Created: June 29, 1997
Last modified: March 6, 1999
SWAV Sex Workers Alliance of Vancouver
Box 3075, Vancouver, BC V6B 3X6
Tel: +1 (604) 488-0710