Marking a grim anniversary

Fourteen women will be remembered today by the York community as part of the National Day of Remembrance. The 14 were shot and killed at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique on Dec. 6, 1989 by an enraged gunman who targeted only females. Since then, communities and organizations across Canada have held annual vigils and memorials to help expose the problem of violence against women. This year marks the 14th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.

York’s commemoration of Women’s Remembrance Day will be held a day in advance of the anniversary to make the event accessible to students, faculty and staff. The memorial, taking place in the Vari Hall Rotunda, will feature two videos that will run continuously throughout the day.

Each video focuses on the issue of violence against women. Without Fear looks at the lives of six women who have survived violence and outlines changes that could help reduce the problem. After the Montreal Massacre gives the story of the life of Sylvia Gagnon, a survivor of the Montreal Massacre. The video links the tragic events of 1989 with the broader issue of violence against women. Heike Santiago and Julia King will also perform live music from 12-1:30pm.

York will remember Geneviève Bergeron, 21; Hélène Colgan, 23; Nathalie Croteau, 23; Barbara Daigneault, 22; Anne-Marie Edward, 21; Maud Haviernick, 29; Barbara Maria Klucznik, 31; Maryse Laganière, 25; Maryse Leclair, 23; Anne-Marie Lemay, 27; Sonia Pelletier, 23; Michèle Richard, 21; Annie St-Arneault, 23; Annie Turcotte, 21; and every woman who has been a victim of violence.

The event is significant because it brings renewed attention to the issue of violence against women. “It’s important that people move forward, but we can never forget what happened that day and we have to stay educated because things like this can happen again,” said Yvonne Chiu of York’s Office of the Advisor to the University on the Status of Women.

Dec. 6 also marks the last day of this year’s White Ribbon Days to commemorate women who have been victims of violence.

“We encourage men to wear a white ribbon and to participate in commemorative events open to men. But we do not organize events on Dec. 6, because we think it should be a day for men to step back and listen to the voices of women,” said Jack Gagliardi, program manager for the White Ribbon Campaign. “Each year, we urge men and boys to wear a ribbon for one or two weeks, starting on Nov. 25, the International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women until Dec. 6, Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.”

The White Ribbon Campaign estimates that 250,000 ribbons are worn each year in Canada and the United States as symbols of remembrance. For details on the campaign, visit the White Ribbon Web site or contact the Toronto White Ribbon Campaign office at 416-920-6684.