Remembrance and action: Dec. 6 memorials target violence against women

- December 6, 2018

(File photo: Danny Abriel)
(File photo: Danny Abriel)

Each year on December 6, people from across Canada mark the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

The day commemorates the tragic loss of 14 young women at the hands of a gunman at L'Ecole Polytechnique engineering school in Montreal nearly 30 years ago.

Students in Dalhousie’s Women in Engineering (WiE) society will be holding a memorial in the John Lindsay Sr. Design Commons in the Richard Murray Design Building on Sexton Campus Thursday starting at 5 p.m.

Lauren Boudreau, a fifth-year student and current president of WiE, says the half-hour vigil will focus specifically on the victims and honouring their memory.

On December 6, 1989, 14 women at École Polytechnique were killed in the hate crime. The shooter claimed to be “fighting feminism” by targeting females studying to be engineers.

The WiE event will begin with a brief introduction and a quick description of the event before candles representing each victim will be blown out at 5:10 p.m., symbolizing their deaths.

Lauren says the vigil will aim to honour the memory of the victims by spurring on new action.

“We’re looking at how we as women in engineering and as students and members of the community can take what happened and develop actions from it,” she says.

Not so silent

Not far away at the Halifax Central Library, another vigil will get underway at 5:15 p.m.

Organized annually by Women’s Community Space — a virtual partnership between members of the Dalhousie Legal Aid service and the YWCA — the Not-So-Silent vigil is a community-focused event.

The memorial begins outside the library's front entrance at 5:15 pm with a candlelight vigil before people are welcomed inside to Paul O'Regan Hall for a few speeches, refreshments, music and a screening of the 2009 film Polytechnique. (Note: the film contains potentially upsetting scenes, so viewer discretion is advised).

Justine Lucas, a Dal law student and co-chair of the Dalhousie Feminist Legal Association who has been involved in helping organize this year’s vigil, says the goal of the event is to provide a forum for speaking out and taking action to bring an end to gender-based violence.

And, as usual, the vigil portion of the event will end in a dramatic fashion.

"We call it the Not-So-Silent vigil because we end it with a scream,” she says. “It’s just sort of a catharsis moment and then we expand the topic to the general women's issues.”

Speeches at this year’s event will cover issues such as domestic violence and missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Attendance is free and all are welcome.


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