Friday, December 6, 2013

December 6th and Violence Against Women


Not so light and frothy today, but important.

Since 1991, December 6th has been officially designated the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada.

The day chosen is significant.  In 1989, 14 young women were murdered at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal for no other reason than the fact that they WERE women. 

While much has occurred in Canada since then to try to eliminate violence against women, the statistics continue to be chilling and alarming.

Across Canada today, vigils will be held where the names of these 14 innocent women will be read aloud, a testament to our commitment to remember.

But it isn't enough.  These 14 names should be familiar to all Canadians, but especially to young men and women.  They should be able to recite them and repeat them like a mantra, building on the work that has been done for the past 24 years.

I can't help but feel that our society exploits young men and women.  They are sold sex and violence and alienation at every turn.  While most are able to compartmentalize what they are fed, some cannot.  Many were victims and abuse themselves and repeat the cycle. 

This Autumn, Barry has been part of a committee organizing a white ribbon march for this coming Monday, December 9th.

What is the white ribbon march?

White Ribbon is the world’s largest movement of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls, promote gender equity, healthy relationships, and a new vision of masculinity. Starting in 1991, White Ribbon asked men to wear white ribbons as a pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls. Since then the White Ribbon has spread to over 60 countries around the world. We work to examine the root causes of gender based violence and create a cultural shift that helps bring us to a future without violence. Our vision is for a masculinity that embodies the best qualities of being human. We believe that men are part of the solution, and part of a future that is safe and equitable for all people.

Through education, awareness raising, outreach, technical assistance, capacity building, partnerships and creative campaigns, White Ribbon is helping create tools, strategies and models that challenge negative, outdated concepts of manhood and inspire men to understand and embrace the incredible potential they have to be a part of positive change.

I am proud of Barry for being part of this important work and of all the other men who are stepping forward to say "there must be another way".



Violence against Women will only stop when we all take a united stand that says "enough - there will be no more" and no one has any doubt about the consequences.

I will not forget.

  • Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student
  • Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
  • Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
  • Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
  • Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student
  • Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student
  • Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique's finance department
  • Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student
  • Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
  • Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student
  • Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student
  • Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
  • Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student
  • Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student
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    17 comments:

    1. I'll never forget this day as I was 19 when they were killed, I was also a young student at the time. I think of them every year and of the lives they could have lived. It breaks my heart.
      Barry is doing some great work and you have written an excellent post on the subject, thanks Wendy.

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      1. I know! It is so hard to think of them and that is has been that long and not enough has changed...

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    2. Hello Wendy, another serious, but important post. I have sent it on to my sons. I remember hearing about this on the Canadian Forces Network when I lived in Germany - the town I lived in had a Canadian army base and it was a big deal, very shocking.

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      1. I just remember being glued to the TV that night, wondering, why and I have some friends who were young engineers in predominately male workplaces and male classes and we all suddenly felt a lot more vulnerable.

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    3. The violence against women and girls in our society frightens and sickens me. Bravo to Barry for all that he is doing. And to you for reminding us all of this terrible tragedy. Thank you Wendy

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      1. You are welcome Jennifer - it is a sad day all around, but I promise some light tomorrow!

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    4. I knew nothing of this massacre but when I read their birth dates it struck a chord. They would have been my age and they would have had wonderful adventures, loves, lives.

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      1. I know! I think about that, too - what would they have achieved, what happiness missed?

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    5. Forwarding this to my husband, who lately has been involved in lots of talks with me trying to understand the life of a woman in a patriarchal society. I knew nothing of this, but study genocide and opression for a living so I find this both heartwrenching and very necessary to be aware of, personally and professionally. You know, after over a decade of academic work dedicated to understand, process and elaborate genocide, I know many theories and histories around it but it still boggles my mind. I don't think I am ever going to understand it. 12 murdered is 12 too many, and senseless killing is just... sigh... not within my understanding.

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      1. and thank you, Barry. Your work in this march moves me.

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      2. Hi AB - I knew you would have something profound to say about this and I was right! It is such an awful thing to try and understand, isn't it?

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    6. Beautiful post and moving and much needed. Good on Barry for taking this on. A list of names, just like that, so simple, so evocative. These woman actually died for this cause. Thank you.

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      1. You are so welcome Jody - they are heroines!

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    7. I never knew about this incident. How tragic...Good on Barry for being involved...

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      1. It is funny what the press picks up, isn't it? thanks for the kind thoughts!

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    8. Thanks so much for this important post, and well done to Barry. That day had a heavy impact on my husband and I: he is an MEngg and I was the same age as these women when it happened. We felt so very far away at the time as we were living in England, and couldn't believe that this most horrific incident occurred in our beloved Canada. Hard to believe we still need to work on this issue so diligently.

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      1. It was and still is so shocking to me! I am not surprised it would hit you so hard and so personally!

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    Kindness is a virtue...