Friday, December 7, 2007

In memory of Dec 6

When Dec 6, 1989 dawned in Montreal, Mark Lepine was not a name that had made its mark on the history books of Canada. By the end of the day, Mark Lepine would be dead and his name would have scarred Canadian history forever. On that day he marched into l'École Polytechnique of Montreal carrying a semi-automatic pistol he had bought a few weeks before and murdered 14 young women.

In 1991, the Canadian government marked Dec 6 as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada. Last night, I was the guest speaker at a vigil for the young women and all women who have died at the hands of violence. It is important we remember these events, that we give voice to these women whose voices have been lost.

Some time ago I interviewed a doctor at a Cancer Care Centre in Ontario where I was doing some consulting work. He told me about the challenges of his job and of working with people who were dying from such an insidious disease. He said, “One of the hardest things about cancer is it gets into a victim’s mind and robs them of their spirit even before they die.”

He could have been speaking of domestic violence and abuse. Like cancer, it is insidious. Like cancer, it kills. And like cancer, abuse takes over your mind and robs you of your spirit.

The statistics on cancer are sobering. A 2005 report released by Statscan stated 1 in 5 Canadians will die of cancer and 1 in 9 Canadian women will be affected by Breast Cancer. The statistics on abuse are even more sobering. 1 in 3 women in North America will be physically or sexually abused sometime in her lifetime. In Canada, 50% of women over the age of 16 will experience an act of violence at least once in their lifetime. (1) One in 6 pregnant women are abused and every 17 minutes someone is sexually assaulted and every year, 130,000 Canadian women report living in fear of domestic violence (2).

What struck me last night, however was not the statistics. It was the fact I know the name Mark Lepine and when I think of l'École Polytechnique of Montreal, the massacre of these young women is what I think about. I don't, however, know the names of the young women, mostly students, who were murdered. I don't know the names of young women who died on that day, many of whom were the same age as my daughters today. I share them here as their names should never be forgotten and the sound of our voices speaking out against violence and abuse should never be stilled.

Geneviève Bergeron (b. 1968), civil engineering student.
Hélène Colgan (b. 1966), mechanical engineering student.
Nathalie Croteau (b. 1966), mechanical engineering student.
Barbara Daigneault (b. 1967) mechanical engineering student.
Anne-Marie Edward (b. 1968), chemical engineering student.
Maud Haviernick (b. 1960), materials engineering student.
Maryse Laganière (b. 1964), budget clerk at the Ecole.
Maryse Leclair (b. 1966), materials engineering student.
Anne-Marie Lemay (b. 1967), mechanical engineering student.
Sonia Pelletier (b. 1961), mechanical engineering student.
Michèle Richard (b. 1968), materials engineering student.
Annie St-Arneault (b. 1966), mechanical engineering student.
Annie Turcotte (b. 1969), materials engineering student.
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (b. 1958), nursing student.

I invite you to spend 4 minutes in silence watching the video at the following You Tube link and please remember -- Abuse Hurts. Stop It. :

(1) Pavilion Family Resource Centre

(2)The Federation of Shelters for Abused Women in Difficulty (or FRHFVDQ, its French acronym)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well done, thank you for remembering Dec 6 and writing a great missive!