The Northern Society for Domestic Peace is remembering the women killed in the Montreal Massacre.
Thirty years ago a man walked into a mechanical engineering class at École Polytechnique in Montreal, said feminists had ruined his life and opened fire. He killed Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz. He also wounded many more, simply because they were women.
Carol Seychuck, NSDP executive director said that violence against women is still a huge issue facing our community.
“Certainly systems are more aware and people are becoming more aware and that is a positive thing,” she said. “But I think we are also becoming aware how inherent and serious violence against women and Indigenous women and marginalized women is in our area. In some ways, if you only have two per cent of women reporting 30 years ago and 22 per cent reporting now, is it better or are we more aware of it and our systems are responding more so you hear about it more. But I think it is still an issue locally, nationally and globally.”
She said that there is still more that can be done to combat the issue.
“Being in a non-profit anti violence sector, no one is ever doing enough. I think it is really important they [the governments] listen to what is happening and respond according. It takes a lot of effort on the government’s part and I think they are putting initiatives in place but I think there needs to be more [done].”
She added that on this anniversary it is so important to remember all the lives lost to violence against women.
“It is so important for people to come forward, notice and not be a bystander.”
The NSDP has just wrapped up an awareness campaign on the radio for the 16 days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence. Their office on First Avenue now displays the photos of all the women who were killed in Montreal on that day. They will also be handing out 14 red roses to women who stop by the office today.
Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development promised action in a statement issued today on Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women:
“This is a solemn day to rededicate ourselves to ending gender-based violence, because when those women were killed, we lost not only daughters, friends and colleagues, we lost all the potential that existed within each of them,” she said. “We lost role models. We lost engineers. We lost community builders. We lost leaders who could have potentially had a hand in shaping this country. It was a tremendous loss for our nation. We will never know what they may have achieved,” she said.
“Too many lives have been lost. Too many families shattered by violence. Our government will take action to end gender-based violence, through the development of a National Action Plan, and firm action to strengthen gun control. We will never stop working to keep Canadians safe, and we will never forget the lives lost.”
B.C. Premier John Horgan also issued a statement urging all British Columbians to unite “to end gender-based violence.”
“These women never had the opportunity to graduate, to build a career, to become innovators and leaders, to start a family or make their communities better,” he said.
“Today, we remember them by observing a moment of silence and resolve to work toward a world where no one lives in fear of violence.
“We have a long way to go. Every week in our province, there are an estimated 1,000 physical or sexual assaults against women. These assaults are disproportionately targeted at Indigenous women and girls, people of colour, transgender people and those with disabilities.”
Today, the flags at the Parliament Buildings in Victoria are flying at half-mast and a public vigil is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on the grounds.