It’s been 25 years since Montreal tragedy

Saturday is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women

This Dec. 6 marks 25 years since 14 young women were senselessly murdered at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal. Since then, Canada has marked the date annually as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women.

Over the last several weeks, Canadians have been reminded again and again that violence against women and sexual harassment are still persistent problems in this country. Even Parliament Hill and our public broadcaster’s offices are not immune.

These high profile cases have helped shine a light on the complexities of gender-based violence and have sparked important discussions.

But discussions must also lead to action. On any given day in Canada, more than 8,200 women and children are living in emergency shelters and transition houses to escape violent partners. Annually more than 400,000 women and girls report sexual assaults, yet an approximate 90 per cent of assaults go unreported. Nearly 1,200 aboriginal women and girls have been murdered or gone missing over the last 30 years. We cannot let this continue to happen.

As we reflect on the events of Dec. 6, 1989, across Canada we must ask ourselves why our current criminal laws, labour codes, and programs have proven inadequate to eradicate this problem.

Last year the Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters & Transition Houses did just that, they released a report analyzing current government policies and programs focused on violence against women. The results were not all that surprising; on a whole Canada is lacking coherence and coordination between the federal and provincial/territorial levels.

As with any complex social issue, we might expect our governments to ensure they are addressing the root causes, conducting ongoing research, evaluating existing measures and facilitating coordination between all relevant stakeholders. All of this takes planning, both in the short and the long term.

So why is it that with such a widespread problem like gender-based violence, that affects one in three women, Canada has no comprehensive plan or strategy?

With Canada less than a year away from a fixed federal election date, this is certainly a question we should be asking politicians.

The public discussions we’re having right now are building — perhaps to a tipping point where real societal change will occur — but we simply can’t afford to let the conversation lapse. We need politicians to join the discussion and make changes.

That’s exactly what a new campaign, led by an alliance of more than 100 women’s organizations and allies, hopes to accomplish. The campaign, dubbed Up for Debate, wants to make sure women figure prominently in how we make the decision about the future of our country. It challenges political party leaders to participate in a televised leaders’ debate on women’s issues once the election is called, the first in 30 years, and more broadly urges politicians to commit to make meaningful commitments to make women’s lives better.

Twenty-five years have passed since Canada was shaken by the École Polytechnique tragedy. Is it not time we got serious about ending violence against women?

Julia Jones is president of the Canadian Federation of University Women, Vernon branch.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dance stages Indigenous identity quest in Vernon

Tlakentli merges dance and theatre with two artists from Mexico, of Nahua and Mixteco descent

Pumphouse project puts Vernon taps back on Kal

The capital project at the Kal Lake Pump House to make it flood-resistant is near completion

Accident causing traffic delays in Vernon

The accident happened near the intersection of Alexis Park Drive and 42nd Street

Carlton Cards to close its doors in Vernon

All 254 retail stores across North America will close in the next four to six weeks

Okanagan among Canada’s most at-risk habitats: WWF report

Report found the Okanagan is inadequately protected despite being a hotspot for at-risk species

UBCO students raise funds for those affected by Philippine volcano eruption

All proceeds will be donated to the Philippine Red Cross

B.C. RCMP spent roughly $750K on massive manhunt for Port Alberni men

Manitoba RCMP helped with 17-day search through the province’s northern terrain

Future space homes could be made of mushrooms

NASA explores use of fungi to build structures in space

Empty speedboat sinks off Kelowna shore on Okanagan Lake

This is the third report of a boat found in the lake in the past two weeks

Man killed by police in Lytton called 911, asking to be shot: RCMP

Howard Schantz, also known as Barry Schantz was killed following a standoff at his Lytton home

UPDATE: Revelstoke City Council gives themselves a raise, councillor resigns in protest

The mayor’s pay is set to go from $30,000 to $60,000 over three years

Kelowna General Hospital takes steps to prevent spread of coronavirus

So far, at least six people have died and 275 people have contracted the virus worldwide

Most Read