PBI-Canada observes the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

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Peace Brigades International stands in solidarity with human rights defenders around the world who seek to end gender-based violence and femicide.

On December 6th, Peace Brigades International-Canada observes the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

It was on this day 30 years ago that a man, in an explicitly anti-feminist attack, murdered fourteen women, most of whom were studying mechanical engineering, at the Université de Montréal’s École Polytechnique.

We remember their names: 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.

We also recognize, as noted in the #CallItFemicide report published in 2018, that, “At least 10,495 women and girls have been killed by violence in Canada since 1961 when official data began to be collected.”

The Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability has also stated that, “In 2018, 148 women and girls were killed by violence in Canada. On average, every 2.5 days one woman or girl is killed in this country – a consistent trend for four decades.”

We also remember those who continue to be affected by gender-based violence. Status of Women Canada has noted that over half of Canadian women have been victims of at least one act of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.

And we recognize that gender-based violence disproportionately impacts trans women and Indigenous women in Canada. Trans women are almost twice as likely as cisgender women to experience gender-based violence in their lifetime. Indigenous women are killed at six times the rate of non-Indigenous women.

Sharon McIvor, Pamela Palmater and Shelagh Day have written, “Discrimination against Indigenous women is as old as Canada. It is a marker that defines Canada as a colonial, patriarchal nation-state. …Two investigations, by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, found that sex discrimination in the Indian Act is a root cause of the crisis of murders and disappearances, precisely because Indigenous women have been cast out of their communities and treated like marginal human beings.”

Judy Rebick has commented, “I think [what happened on December 6, 1989] was both an act of terrorism and an extreme form of the violence women face every day. The best way to remember these fourteen women is recommit ourselves, women and men, to the fight for women’s liberation and an end to violence against women.”

Peace Brigades International strives for a world free of violence. We stand in solidarity with women impacted by gender-based violence and with all who strive to end femicide, gender-based violence, discrimination, harassment, and hate.

Further reading: PBI-Guatemala meets with organizations in Petén that challenge gender-based violence; PBI-Mexico accompanies CodigoDH on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women; PBI-Colombia accompanies ceremony on new report on violence against women; PBI supports women human rights defenders in Nepal.

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