December 6: National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

A day to remember the 14 young women who were murdered at L’Ecole Polytechnique.

A time…
to reflect on violence against women here in Canada and around the world

to think about all the women and girls who live daily with the threat of violence

to remember those whose lives have been affected by violence

to take action to stop it

Dec 6 2014

December 6, 2015

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women is  4-6pm, Saturday at the Labour Centre. Usually the Gender Issues Centre organizes and holds a service over the lunch hour. I recognize the exam period start, so  thought it best to support and be involved with the labour union women’s efforts this year and join Superior Highschool students and Mr. Andrew Foulds in their pledge to stop violence.

On Friday, drop into GiC for mindfulness meditation, 2:00pm – 2:30pm & discussion group and tea and snacks 2:30pm-4:00pm.

It is with hope and critical edge that I look within myself and to you. We can work on a daily basis to see, feel and understand the detrimental effects of violence against women and violence in our community. I think we can all participate by taking a moment to reflect and play a part to help shift limiting & biased attitudes, policies, and strive toward a better future for everyone.

See: 16 Days of Activism Campaign for more information and links.


Thunder Bay:

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“we need to really reckon with how we’ve allowed a culture of toxic masculinity and entitlement to women’s bodies to run rampant and unchecked. Every person that looked the other way — every person that’s ever looked away — is complicit in perpetuating a culture in which people die for acting on the bare minimum standards of decency that most of us claim to believe in.”

feministing article by Maya Dusenbury– Young woman beaten to death after intervening to defend girls from sexual harassment


December 6, 2013 – organized by Gender Issues Centre, Lakehead University Agora

Biographies of the 14 women were read by students, staff, and representatives from community organizations.

Special thanks to our candle lighters, guest speakers, Thunder Bay District Health Unit, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, Catholic Family Development Centre, Bombardier Transportation, Centre des Femmes Francophones (Centr’Elles), Aboriginal Awareness Centre, Pride Central.


In remembrance

Top row (from l.)

Anne-Marie Edward

Anne-Marie Lemay

Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte

Barbara Daigneault

Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz

Geneviève Bergeron

Bottom row (from l.)

Hélène Colgan

Maryse Leclair

Maryse Laganière

Maud Haviernick

Michèle Richard

Nathalie Croteau

Sonia Pelletier

photo from: Rifle-toting madman slaughters 14 women at Montreal university in 1989 Murderous misogynist Marc Lepine fired 100 rounds during his kill-crazy rampage at Ecole Polytechnique before turning the gun on himself BY , NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Opening Song by Anemki Wahjewh equaywik

Opening Remarks – Jayal Chung, Gender Issues Centre

Candlelight Vigil and Moment of Silence


Elizabeth Stafford, Institutional Analysis & Government Relations, Lakehead University

Gwen O’ Reilly. North Western Ontario Women’s Centre

Sarah DiBiagio, Pride Central

Refreshments and Open Discussion

 Opening and Closing Remarks

December 6: National Day of Remembrance and Action On Violence Against Women

Opening Remarks – Jayal Chung

Good Afternoon.

Thank you for taking the time to be here for this service. First, I’d like to acknowledge our elders past, present and future and that we are on traditional lands of Fort William First Nation, Robinson Superior Treaty 1850. I’d like to thank the women drummers for opening this service and sharing their powerful song.

Now, I bring your attention to three deliberate choices I’ve made when organizing this service. First: the 14 empty chairs here. They represent the rightful space reserved today to honour the women who were murdered on December 6, 1989 at L’Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal. The women had dreams and held potential until their lives were taken away by a man who hated feminists.

This young man, armed with a legally obtained firearm and hunting knife, shot 28 people before taking his own life. He separated the male and female students and targeted women to shoot. His suicide note claimed political motives and blamed feminists for ruining his life and listed other women in Quebec who he considered to be feminists.

This leads me to my second choice: I deliberately refrain from naming him in this service.The man saw no space for women at the school; no space or understanding for feminism; held no space for equity. Not fair. It’s not fair that these women died. Not fair that gender violence in all of its cruel forms exists (be it: physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, financial, spiritual or stalking). Not fair that these are facts:

  • On average, every six days a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner.3
  • Violence against women happens in all cultures and religions, in all ethnic and racial communities, at every age, and in every income group.
  • Aboriginal women (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) are especially at risk and eight times more likely to be killed by their intimate partner than non-Aboriginal women.48

(Canadian Women’s Foundation |

  • Up to 70 per cent of women experience violence in their lifetime.

(United Nations |

Not fair that rape happens. Not fair that the woman who wrote ‘University doesn’t take rape seriously’ to the local newspaper in October, experienced what she did.

Not fair that the then 14 year old, Malala Yousafzai got shot by the Taliban, advocating for girls’ rights to education.

Gender violence still exists. Today is a reminder of this. We can take a pulse and reflect on the changes that women have fought so hard for, and we can also see how there is still much work to do. It is our collective small and big actions that count and we must keep working to end the systemic issue of violence in our society.

I reflect on this — how violence applied is a means of control and punishment for those who’ve stepped out of the bounds of control. Fear and violence takes away a person’s rights and freedoms to participate in everyday life. This is not fair. It’s not ok.

Before I ask the readers and candle-lighters to come up, I direct your attention to a third detail: All of you seated right here, right now are part of this space. This is a safe space and I’m honoured to share it with you. I’ve marked by tape and asked men to be seated on one side and women to be seated on one side while the middle is for all genders, for everyone. (It doesn’t matter to me where you sit). Look around you and see that my choice is meant to unite us to remember. To remember the 14 women, and every person who has been a victim or survivor of violence.

Now, I’d like to call the readers to help me and that everyone of you light your candle and help the person next to you.

Closing Remarks Violence against women is not an issue of the past, yet. I believe we can make change. I’m committed to it, personally.

I want a safer and inclusive community, on and off campus because I care about your well-being and mine.

So, what are concrete ways one can make change? Here are a few examples I encourage you to consider:

1. Help build community within your reach and then reach wider. Do it by giving time and energy or financially supporting various social service organizations like the Northwestern Ontario Women’s Centre, Shelter House, Children’s Aid, Beendigen, AIDs Thunder Bay, Centre des Femmes Francophone, the Sex Workers Action Network and more.

2. Take small actions everyday and take a risk by speaking out and bringing awareness to sexist language and attitudes. Connect with each other for support and so nobody has to feel alone and isolated.

3. Sign the petition by the Native Women’s Association of Canada for a national inquiry, for missing, murdered Aboriginal Woman.

Feel your heart beat, right now; I think of the candles flickering and the spirit of drumming and how we must keep working. We must be persistent. We hold collective power and each of us can participate in making a safer, inclusive, equitable and non-violent society. Thank you for being here today.

Please stay to converse, watch the video and enjoy light refreshments by Aramark, and cake from Holly Hyder and Natalie Corbin representing the Status of Women Committee for Lakehead Elementary Teachers.

25 years after Montreal Massacre gender-based violence persists on Canadian campuses – Canadian Federation of Students