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The work to end violence against women goes beyond the 16 Days of Activism

By: Nasreen Rajani, WISE Communications Chair

December 2019

December 6th, 2019 marked 30 years since the horrendous attack against 14 women engineers at Montreal’s L’École Polytechnique. This date also marked the final day of the16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence and the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. On that Thursday evening, hundreds of us gathered first at Minto Park to commemorate all 14 of them along with other women and girls who have been murdered since. Downtown, both the University of Ottawa and the National Arts Centre projected and displayed the names of all 14 women who were killed on this day 30 years ago on the outsides of their buildings. During the outdoor candlelit vigil, one-by-one, volunteers read the names and short stories about the women and girls who have been murdered. Together, alongside the drumming from our Indigenous leaders, we marched with our candles from Minto park to the National Arts Centre. There we took a break from the cold weather, enjoyed some snacks donated by Three Sisters and listened to a panel of brilliant Indigenous women discuss the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) and the need to push our Prime Minister to consider the over 200 calls to justice directed at all Canadians. Thank you to all of the volunteers involved.

Upon reflection of this evening, I couldn't help but wonder if much has changed in the last 30 years in terms of the violence experienced by women and girls in Canada. The most recent Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability report stated that at least 118 women and girls have been killed this year alone in Canada. You can read the full report here. This number only reflects the cases that police have ruled as (murdered) killed, but not cases that are deemed suspicious, are currently open or where the victim is still missing.

Although December 6th has now passed, WISE urges us all to continue the fight to prevent and end violence against women and girls in our communities. This needs to be an ongoing topic of conversation for not only us community members but our political leaders.

How can we continue to push our political leaders to take gender-based violence and the report on MMIWG more seriously and take bigger steps to protect our women and girls beyond the yearly statements of supports during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence?

WISE offers workshops aimed at personal safety, workplace safety, and engaging boys (ages 8-12) about gender norms and their relation to gender-based violence. Check out the list of programs we offer and contact us at info@wiseottawa.ca or give us a call at 613-230-6700.