December 6th – Day to End Violence Against Women
By Joyclin Coates, Vice President of Women’s rights, Halifax-Dartmouth & District Labour Council
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
24 years ago on December 6, 2014 these young women were gunned down by a lone assailant. And on December 6 of each year since 1991 this day has been observed as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women. The reasons are well documented about the motivation for the killings, — because they were women, and they were involved in education in fields of study which have long been a stronghold for careers for men.
Around the world the fight for girls and women to get an education which would help to lift them out of dependence and poverty continues. . This was never so prominent , this past year as when a 16 year old school girl, Malala Yousafzai , was shot by the Taliban in Pakistan. Her subsequent survival and “coming out swinging” attitude of defiance , and a symbol of hope, almost won her a Nobel Peace Prize.
Freedom to be educated, freedom from abuse, and all manner of violence; sexual and other physical and psychological attacks, continues to be an elusive goal and impossible for many women.
Our current government sought to remove the Long Gun Registry which was implemented to reduce risk of death and injury to many, including women in abusive domestic situations. Their goal to in removing this Registry, in February of 2012 was celebrated , even in the face of resistance from most law enforcement agencies. Insult to injury was when the Government attacked the RCMP for confiscating for having confiscated 542 firearms and ammunition while on search and rescue for people in the High River flood zone in June 2013. They were totally losing sight of the safety issue of insure storage of firearms.
In the face of regressive “creep” of this patriarchal mentality, lets continue to stand up and speak out and take action against the Violence against women here in our own back yard, as demonstrated by the outcry of the “Frosh week Chants” at SMU and other Universities , about rape and consent and fight back against this mentality , wherever we encounter it.
It is like walking on the sand at the edge of the ocean, as another wave comes in to undermine your step but with vigilance and tenacity you keep reaffirming your position on solid ground.