December 4, 2020

This December 6, LEAF recognizes the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada. On this National Day of Remembrance and Action, we are taking time to reflect on the realities of women who face gender-based violence, and to honour those who have lost their lives to misogyny.   

On December 6, 1989, fourteen women’s lives were cut short by a man who 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.  

Today we remember:   

We also remember those whose lives were taken too soon in April 2020 by the mass shooting in Portapique, Nova Scotia.  We remember these women and girls alongside the men who were killed: Tom Bagley, Kristen Beaton, Greg Blair, Jamie Blair, Joy Bond, Peter Bond, Corrie Ellison, Gina Goulet, Frank Gulenchyn, Lillian Campbell Hyslop, Alanna Jenkins, Dawn Madsen, Lisa McCully, Sean McLeod, Heather O’Brien, Jolene Oliver, Heidi Stevenson, Elizabeth Joanne Thomas, Aaron Tuck, Emily Tuck, Joey Webber, and John Joseph Zahl.   

As we reflect on the terror that played out 31 years ago in Montreal, we call for action to address gender-based violence today. Unfortunately, this year, the need for action is more urgent than ever. COVID-19 has exacerbated existing gender inequalities, leaving women, girls and gender diverse people more vulnerable to violence. Organizations providing services to women experiencing violence at home have noted increased calls for help and the increased severity in violence since the pandemic began.  

Women, girls and gender diverse people deserve to be free from violence, to feel secure, and to have access to supports that enable them to reach their full potential. Federal, provincial, and territorial governments need to come together to develop and implement a National Action Plan on gender-based violence, which must be grounded in intersectional feminist principles and recognize the diversity of identities and needs of the survivors. Governments must also prioritize the implementation of the 231 Calls for Justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, which have thus far gone unanswered. 

LEAF will continue to advocate for substantive equality rights for women and girls and speak out against misogyny to end gender-based violence.   

About Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF)  

The Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) works to advance the substantive equality rights of women and girls through litigation, law reform, and public education. Since 1985, we have intervened in landmark cases that have advanced equality in Canada—helping to prevent violence, eliminate discrimination in the workplace, provide better maternity benefits, ensure a right to pay equity, and allow access to reproductive freedoms.  

To support our work to protect the equality rights of women and girls, please consider donating today.