Vigil is a reminder that violence against women must stop

Mona Mattei
By Mona Mattei
December 7th, 2009

On Dec. 6 communities across Canada gathered to remember the 14 young women who were brutally gunned down at l’Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal in 1989. These women were not only victims of senseless violence; they were killed because they were women that represented feminism.

In Grand Forks, the Boundary Women’s Coalition held a candlelight vigil to remember the tragedy and to keep the movement strong to end violence against women in society.

Hosted at the coalition’s resource centre, the vigil started with the reading of the 14 women’s names by Diane Lapalme while Heather MacLeod lit candles. The people present then spent time in silent reverence for all women who have been killed because of their gender.

The group gathered shared stories or items about the day, the challenges of ending violence against women, and hopes for the future in the hour they spent together. Diana Carr, a member of the coalition who was instrumental in developing the local transition house, shared an interview with a woman who survived the massacre from the Globe and Mail newspaper.

Sheila Dobie read an excerpt from a book, Missing Sarah, about a woman who was one of the 26 sex workers that Robert Picton murdered in Vancouver, that was written by her sister describing the life she lead that enabled her to become a victim. The piece Dobie read was a poem by the victim.

Others talked about the difficulties that still exist in trying to change the culture of society that allows the continuation of domestic and other violence. Others yet pointed to significant cultural changes that have occurred in the last 40 years leading to a decrease in the levels of domestic violence with a greater understanding and less tolerance within society for this kind of violence.

While the discussion lead to hope for change based on educating young people, developing and supporting needed services like the transition house, and acting as change agents in their own community, the men and women who gathered for the vigil acknowledged that while much has changed, each and every day women and girls are still affected by violence.

In the words of Lori Lum, member of the coalition, we must stay ever vigilant.

Dec. 6 is a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada.

Categories: General