The 14 women shot and killed by an antifeminist at École Polytechnique de Montréal on Dec. 6, 1989 were remembered in a vigil at the Thompson YWCA on the 30th anniversary of that mass murder.
University of Manitoba northern social work program students read the names and brief biographies of the women killed in Montreal, all but one of whom were students – Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz. After each victim’s name was read, a candle was lit in their honour.
In addition to the white roses laid on a table beside the photos of the 14 women killed in Montreal, a red rose was laid in honour of all the women and girls in Manitoba who have died as a result of violence this year.
“Today is about honouring these women who lost their lives as well as Manitoba women, the countless women who lose their life to violence just because they’re women," said Kim Hickes, executive director of the Thompson YWCA, which hosted the event in partnership with the social work program and the Thompson Crisis Centre. “Violence against women and girls, particularly in Northern Manitoba, particularly in the Indigenous women, is extremely high.”
Attendees at the event were then invited to the YWCA’s women’s centre where they could write the name of a woman affected by violence on a red dress to pin up on the wall of remembrance, or write an action they could take to reduce violence against women on a rose.
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Grand Chief Garrison Settee said in a press release that Dec. 6 is also a day to recognize the particular challenges facing Indigenous women in Canada as a whole and specifically in Northern Manitoba.
“It is clear that leadership from Northern Manitoba has ongoing concerns about the safety and well-being of First Nations women and girls,” stated Grand Chief Settee. “MKO remembers female victims of violence on December 6, but we take this opportunity to remind Manitoba residents and elected officials that Indigenous women and girls continue to be disproportionately affected by high rates of violence. Let’s work together to acknowledge this violence and to take steps to reduce and ultimately end it.”
Eleven women died by violence in Manitoba in the past year, Manitoba Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister Cathy Cox said in a news release.
“As time marches on and the memory of that horrific day fades, it’s important to remember the lives of 14 women who were murdered on Dec. 6, 1989 – women who were specifically targeted and killed because they were women,” said Cox. “Thirty years cannot diminish that loss, nor the impact this tragedy had on our nation. I urge Manitobans to take this opportunity to reflect on violence against women in our society, and remember the women and girls who face gender-based violence daily.”