Last night (December 6, 2017), women across Muskoka came together to mark the 28th anniversary of the Montréal Massacre.
On December 6, 1989, a man opened fire and killed 14 women in the engineering university École Polytechnique in Montréal, solely because they were women. After murdering the women, the man declared he killed them because they were feminists.
For more than 20 years, Muskoka’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women vigil has marked that tragic event. The vigil is held to remember not only the women who lost their lives in the massacre, but also the women who die every year due to violence.
This year’s event was held at Sutherland Hall in Huntsville and remembered the 32 women in Ontario who lost their lives this year due to violence.
The vigil was hosted by Muskoka Parry Sound Sexual Assault Services (Laurie Lamont), YWCA Muskoka (Hannah Lin) and the Muskoka Women’s Advocacy Group (MWAG) Shelters and Services (Ruth Holloway).
To begin the night, Sarah Sharp from the Métis Healing and Wellness Centre held a craft workshop titled Faceless Dolls.
“When the different faceless dolls are displayed together they represent the unification of women who are facing violence coming together, thus demonstrating strength in numbers,” said Holloway, program manager at MWAG. “Feminism is still so relevant because women aren’t safe. We all must come together to protect each other.”
Hannah Lin also spoke about the event’s history and its importance, and then highlighted horrifying statistics regarding violence against women. Lin told those gathered that one out of three women experience violence in their lifetime, the rate of violence for transgender women is two times higher, and the rate of violence for indigenous women is three times higher.
Each woman in attendance then read aloud the story of a woman who had died due to violence while a candle was lit in her honour.
It is important that we remember women who have been murdered. If we want to keep women and girls safe, we need to be aware of the history.
Ruth Holloway, Muskoka Women’s Advocacy Group
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