- Our Town
Commemorate National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women
By Jewelles Smith
December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. This is the twenty-third anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. On Dec. 6, 1989, a lone gunman walked into l’Ecole Polytechnique and murdered nine women in a classroom, and then continued through the hallways of the school targeting female students. Fourteen women were murdered and thirteen others were injured. Marc Lepine then took his own life. He left a note blaming feminists for all the difficulties he was experiencing in his life.
On this day, communities across the country take time to remember the women who died on that day. This is also a day to reflect on the lives of women across the country and around the world who live with violence; to mourn the lives of women who have died as a result of violence; and to remember those who have survived.
The facts on violence against women in Canada are shocking. On average, one woman dies every six days as a direct result of violence from a partner, according to the Canadian Women’s Foundation’s Fact Sheet “Moving Women out of Violence.” On the average day, there are more than 3,000 women and 2,500 children staying in emergency shelters. Twelve percent of all violent crime in Canada is related to domestic violence.
Physical abuse is the most recognizable form of violence against women; however, violence can take many other forms. It can include sexual abuse, verbal abuse, financial abuse, and criminal harassment and stalking.
Women are often afraid to leave their abuser, many fear for their lives. More than 25 per cent of women who are murdered in Canada had just left their abuser. As well, women are often reliant on their partner financially and leaving can be very difficult.
In light of these staggering facts, you may wonder what you can do to help a woman you know, or suspect is experiencing abuse. If you know of someone who is in immediate danger, call 911. Outside of that, be aware that you do not put a woman at further risk. This means not confronting her abuser in front of her and not sending her emails or voice messages with information on domestic abuse resources. Be available to listen, but recognize that she might not be ready to leave. Do not put yourself at risk. Try to support her in whatever decision she makes. As noted above, it can be very difficult to get out of an abusive situation safely. Do support women’s shelters and other resources that help women get the support they need.
Fortunately in Revelstoke, we have many amazing resources in Revelstoke, including the Revelstoke Women’s Shelter. On Dec. 6, they invite you to join them at a candle light vigil to mark this day at 3:30 p.m. at the Community Centre in the Macpherson Room.
On Dec. 6, we remember the names of the women who died on that day in 1989. They are: Geneviève Bergeron, aged 21; Hélène Colgan, 23; Nathalie Croteau, 23; Barbara Daigneault, 22; Anne-Marie Edward, 21; Maud Haviernick, 29; Barbara Maria Klucznik, 31; Maryse Leclair, 23; Annie St.-Arneault, 23; Michèle Richard, 21; Maryse Laganière, 25; Anne-Marie Lemay, 22; Sonia Pelletier, 28; and Annie Turcotte, aged 21.
Note: the many statistics in this article were taken from the Fact Sheet put out by Canada’s Women’s Foundation: “Moving Women out of Violence."
Jewelles Smith, MA has developed her career as an expert in gender and disability human rights issues in Canada. She currently thrives in Revelstoke, B.C., with her two sons.