MEDICINE HAT, AB — The Medicine Hat Women’s Shelter Society is working to ensure the issue of gender-based violence will never be forgotten.
December 6th marks the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. The women’s shelter is holding a vigil Thursday at Medicine Hat College to remember and honour victims of gender-based violence, and victims of the Montreal Massacre.
On December 6th, 1989, a gunman entered Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, killing 14 women, and injuring 14 others. During the shooting, the gunman specifically targeted women, and in his suicide note, blamed feminists for ruining his life.
“He hated women, and these women died simply because they were women,” said Peggy Revell, community education and awareness coordinator with the women’s shelter. “It remains the deadliest shooting massacre in Canadian history.”
In 1991, the Canadian government officially designated December 6th as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Across Canada, vigils are held to memorialize the women killed in Montreal, victims of gender-based violence, and missing and murdered Indigenous women.
Revell says gender-based violence continues to remain an issue, citing the Toronto van attack from the summer as an example.
“We still have so many women in the community who come to us at the women’s shelter, who need our assistance,” she said. “We work closely with the Sexual Assault Response Committee, and the majority of sexual assaults, and those sort of violent acts are against women. It hasn’t disappeared. It’s still here. It’s still important to remember, and to work with people, and encourage them to take action.”
Throughout the day, the shelter had students and members of the community create paper flowers with uplifting messages that are placed on a tree. The tree is being used for the memorial ceremony Thursday evening, and the flowers will be given to community organizations.
“They can share them with other people who may need that positive message, and keep the momentum going from the day,” said Revell.
The vigil begins at 6:30 p.m. in Centennial Hall.
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