More than a dozen people gathered outside Port Alberni City Hall on Wednesday to honour World Transgender Day of Remembrance.
People hung a banner and a pink, blue and white flag, and held a brief ceremony. This is the third year that Jozie Palecek has organized a Transgender Day of Remembrance event in Port Alberni.
Palecek and other members read out the 331 names of transgender people worldwide who died violent deaths in the past year.
“It’s 30 people less than last year,” she said. “It’s impossible to find exact numbers because some of them aren’t reported and some of them are suppressed—their status of transgender.”
Several employees from city hall, including mayor Sharie Minions and CAO Tim Pley came out to observe the brief ceremony. Minions and Pley took turns reading some of the names from the list, Palecek said.
“It’s incredibly important that we take a moment…to remember those that we have lost,” Minions said. “It was incredibly impactful that they read out the names of the people who have been lost in the last year and how they died. We’re lucky to have this group in our community.”
Mark Dawson said it was difficult to hear the list of people who have died, especially those who were listed as “unknown”. “The unknown ones are those where people have found a body and they can’t identify it. Nobody should just disappear,” he said.
The transgender community is growing in Port Alberni, says Paul Thompson, president of Alberni Valley Pride Society. It’s important to remember people from the trans community who have died, which is why this event is observed in the city, he said.
“In a lot of ways we need to make it well known. There are so many people out in the world that are transgender. They need to be recognized as people.”
Transgender people contribute to society, he added. They could be lawyers or doctors.
Other communities around Vancouver Island, like Nanaimo, also recognized World Transgender Day of Remembrance with public events, Thompson said.
The Alberni Valley Pride Society meets Fridays at Burde Beans Cafe at 5:30 p.m. There is also an AV Trans Pride page on Facebook for people looking for more information.