On December 6th this year, we will remember them – the 14 women gunned down 25 years ago at the Université de Montréal simply because of their gender. There will be sadness and regret for personal loss but December 6th is also a reminder of the need to take action around the world to end violence against women.
The toll is staggering. Globally, more than one third of women and girls will be victims of violence in their lifetimes. Perhaps most disturbing is that violence against women is most often perpetrated by intimate partners, friends and family members.
In the aftermath of the Montreal Massacre, people across Canada came together and acted for change. One of the survivors, Heidi Rathjen co-organized the Coalition for Gun Control, a group that played a significant role in the passage of the Firearms Act of 1995 and increased restrictions on gun ownership in Canada.
Another group formed by those directly affected by the Montreal Massacre, the “Poly-remembers”, is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the victims as well as greater gun control. This group includes Nathalie Provost who was shot four times and recovered and Jean-Francois Larivee who lost his spouse that day. The “Poly-remembers” group held a news conference just days ago to protest the federal government’s recent efforts to dismantle gun control with Bill C-42, formally called “The Common Sense Firearms Act.”
Survivors and loved ones continue to find ways to carve positive change out of a devastating act of gender-based violence. And every one of us can make a difference too. Wear a white ribbon in remembrance and determination. Learn more about what you can do to help end violence against women. Start a conversation. Reach out to someone you think might be in an abusive relationship. If someone you know and care about is behaving abusively, find out how to approach them and talk about finding help and help set them on a path to change.
As we remember all women who have been victimized, we can draw hope from the fact that awareness and action can shift attitudes and help eradicate gender-based violence and abuse.