THUNDER BAY – This past Monday we recognized the anniversary of one of the most heinous crimes and darkest moments in Canadian history. Monday marked the 21st anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.
In Montreal, on December 6, 1989, 14 women were murdered at Ecole Polytechnique. These women were murdered simply because they were women. Marc Lepine, entered an engineering classroom, separated the men from the women, and before opening fire on the females, yelled anti female slurs.
Shocked by this violent display of hatred towards women, thousands of Canadians started to speak up and take action to end gender-based violence. Two years later, in 1991 the Canadian Parliament declared December 6th an annual Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. That same year, a group of men also started the White Ribbon Campaign as a way for men and boys to stand up against this violence.
The need for action continues. Violence against women is not acceptable yet every day women and girls continue to experience harassment, bullying and assault, often at the hands of those closest to them. According to United Nations’ statistics, every year up to three million women and girls around the world lose their lives to gender based violence or neglect.
Locally the Catholic Family Development Centre ran violence related programs for 200 men last year and support programs for 400 women who were subjected to some form of violence by men. Domestic violence calls in Thunder Bay between 2003 to 2007 increased from 1200 to 2700.
We cannot continue to allow this to happen.
December 6th is a day for each of us to examine our beliefs, our words and our actions. It is a day to consider what we can do, both personally and together with others – to end violence against women.
I believe that it our duty, particularly as men, to demonstrate through our words and actions that violence against women is wrong, unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
Days like December 6th must be remembered, observed and discussed, if we ever hope to end gender based violence. Our remembrance must grow stronger, not weaker.
Current River Ward, Thunder Bay Ontario