On December 6, 2019, LEAF commemorates the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada, which marks the 30th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre when 14 women were murdered because they were women.
On this day in 1989, a man entered an engineering classroom at l’École Polytechnique in Montreal, carrying both a knife and an assault rifle. In that classroom, he separated the women from the men and opened fire on the women, yelling that he hated feminists. His act of terror was fueled by misogyny.
Fourteen women’s lives were cut short during the Massacre. They were daughters, sisters, friends, classmates, colleagues, and partners. They were loved. They had promising futures. Today we remember:
- Geneviève Bergeron
- Hélène Colgan
- Nathalie Croteau
- Barbara Daigneault
- Anne-Marie Edward
- Maud Haviernick
- Barbara Klucznik Widajewicz
- Maryse Laganière
- Maryse Leclair
- Anne-Marie Lemay
- Sonia Pelletier
- Michèle Richard
- Annie St-Arneault
- Annie Turcotte
In the thirty years since the December 6th Massacre, misogyny-fueled violent attacks on women have continued both in Canada and around the world. Gender-based violence remains a pressing threat to the safety of women and girls and interferes with their ability to fully participate in society. In recent years, misogynists have harnessed the power of technology to both find like-minded communities of hate and to target women’s safety in new and insidious ways.
Today, we reflect on the lives of the women that were lost in Montreal, and on the senseless acts of violence rooted in misogyny that led to their deaths. In remembering these women, we also recognize that women continue to suffer from violence. In particular, women who live with multiple intersecting grounds of oppression, such as Indigeneity, race, poverty and/or sexual orientation, are disproportionately the targets of violence. In Canada, the harms caused by gender-based violence are exacerbated by legacies of colonialism. The statistics paint a bleak picture:
- Almost every other day in Canada, a women or girl is killed violently. In 2018, 164 women and girls lost their lives to violence.
- Indigenous women and girls are 12 times more likely to be murdered or missing than any other women in Canada. Between 2001 and 2015, homicide rates for Indigenous women were nearly six times higher than for non-Indigenous women. In 2018, of the 164 women and girls killed in Canada, 44 were Indigenous. Indigenous women are also 3 times more likely than non-Indigenous women to experience physical or sexual assault.
- Women with disabilities are also highly overrepresented among victims of violence. They are nearly twice as likely to have been sexually assaulted in the past 12 months than those without disabilities.
As we reflect on the terror that played out thirty years ago in Montreal, we again call for action to address gender-based violence today. Women and girls deserve to be safe, to feel secure, and to have access to supports that enable them to reach their full potential. Federal, provincial, and territorial governments must come together to develop and implement a National Action Plan on gender-based violence. We all must work to implement the 231 Calls for Justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. LEAF will continue to advocate for substantive equality for women and girls and speak out against misogyny to end violence against women and girls.