Friday marked the 24th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre and the North Coast Transition Society held a vigil at Northwest Community College (NWCC) to remember the women who were murdered and raise awareness to end violence against women.
On Dec. 6, 1989, 14 women attending Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal were killed when a man entered the school with a gun, separated the men from women, and murdered female students because he believed they were feminists.
“They died only because they were women, for no other reason,” Treena Decker, Stopping the Violence counsellor of the North Coast Transition Society, said during the event.
Planning 10 students from Charles Hays Secondary Students created 14 paper silhouettes to represent victims of the Montreal Massacre, which were laid out in the Multipurpose Room at NWCC and down the hallway at the entrance of the school.
“It allowed students to have a discussion about gender violence and the realities of the world we live in. All we can hope is we keep having dialogue that will encourage change,” Decker said.
A brief biography of each of the women was read by people in attendance, while red roses was laid on the floor to represent each victim. Then, those at the vigil shared a moment of silence to honour the lives of the 14 women and the lives of all men who died because of gender-based violence.
“Despite the important work that has been done to end violence against women, on this day we are reminded that this work is far from complete,” said North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, noting in British Columbia more than 1,000 physical and sexual assaults against women take place each week.
“Every such act diminishes our society.”
During his speech, Prince Rupert Mayor Jack Mussallem said he’s saddened to know Prince Rupert is no exception.
“Every month I get a reality check when I see the Victim Services report and see there’s always a few cases of sexual assault or spousal assault,” he said.
Dec. 6 has been proclaimed the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women by the Canadian Government, with commemorative events like Prince Rupert’s taking place across Canada each year.
“Hopefully by having events like this … we can have a generation where they talk about violence against women in the past tense,” Decker said.