December 6th, 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. Not an anniversary anyone really wants to celebrate, but a tragedy that we must never forget. Try to imagine yourself innocently walking to class while thinking about writing term finals, meeting your friend for a coffee, or going home soon for the holidays. No idea that what seemed like a day like any other, would instead be your last, and not knowing that your last day would be one of terror and violence.
On December 6th, 1989, a man entered the École Polytechnique de Montréal, separated the male and female engineering students, and shot the women. Thirteen students and one worker were murdered and thirteen others were wounded that day simply because they were women. This became known as the Montreal Massacre. This senseless act of targeted violence shook our country and led the Canadian Parliament to designate December 6th as The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women. Across Canada this day offers an opportunity to remember the promising young lives cut short and to work for a society free from gender-based violence.
On December 6th, YWCA Regina will hand out red roses in and around the Cornwall Centre between 10:30 and 11:00 a.m. in honour of the 14 women. In addition, we encourage people to attend other events open to the public. The University of Regina will commemorate the day in numerous ways including a vigil at noon in the Crush Space of the Riddell Centre organized by the Women’s Centre and the Regina’s Engineering Student Society. There will also be a Candle Light Vigil held at 7 p.m. at the United Way offices at 1440 Scarth Street organized by the Canadian Labour Congress, Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, SGEU and RDLC.
The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women falls within the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence which began on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25th and ends with International Human Rights Day on December 10th. The theme of this year’s campaign in Canada is #OurActionsMatter. We all have a role to play to ensure that tragedies like the Montreal Massacre never happen again.
In Canada every six days a woman is killed by her intimate partner. The rate which Indigenous women are murdered is six times higher than non-Indigenous women. In Saskatchewan, we consistently have the highest rates of police reported incidents of intimate partner violence and sexual assaults amongst the provinces. Saskatchewan doubles the national average.
YWCA Regina is known for providing crisis services and supports for women and children and we also focus on community education. While great work is being done, we have a long way to go. YWCA Regina turns away more than 2000 women and children from our shelters each year. As YWCA continues to provide lifesaving supports and services, we must all advocate for the elimination of gender-based violence. Participating in The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Womenis a good place to start.