December 6th – A Vigil of Remembrance

Labour Views column for November 25, 2014

Written by Mary Lou Cherwaty, President of the Northern Territories Federation of Labour

On December 6, 1989, a man entered the School of Engineering at Ecole Polytechnique, University of Montreal. He separated the women from the men.  He then systematically murdered these 14 young women:

Genevieve Bergeron, age 21, Helene Colgan, age 23, Nathalie Croteau, age 23, Barbara Daigneault, age 22,  Anne-Marie Edward, age 21, Maud Haviernick, age 29, Barbara Maria Klucznik, age 31,  Maryse Laganiere, age 25,  Maryse Leclair, age 23, Anne-Marie Lemay, age 27, Sonia Pelletier, age 28, Michele Richard, age 21,  Annie St-Arneault, age 23,  Annie Turcotte, age 21.

Twelve of these women were engineering students, one a grad student and instructor. The other two women were an administration staff worker and a health sciences student. In response to this horrific and violent act against women, the Parliament of Canada established December 6 as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women in 1991.  This year marks the 25th anniversary of that horrific day.  Although much has changed, violence against women remains far too prevalent in our society.

Last year on December 6th, in partnership with the University of Western Ontario’s Centre for Research & Education on Violence against Women & Children, the Canadian Labour Congress launched a nation-wide survey on the impact of domestic violence on workers and workplaces called “Can work be safe When Home Isn’t.”  Over 7,000 responses were received.  This year, on the 25th anniversary of this tragic event, the results of that survey will be shared  with Canadians.

In addition to highlighting the 25th anniversary of these murders, The Northern Territories Federation of Labour joins the Canadian Labour Congress in encouraging all affiliates and Federations of Labour across Canada in affirming the labour movement’s commitment to ending violence against women. We can do this by profiling the results of the Domestic Violence in the Workplace survey and by reinforcing calls for a National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and a National Action Plan on Violence against Women.

Please join us on Saturday December 6th  at  4 p.m. for the “Vigil of Remembrance” at the Salvation Army to remember the 14 women who were shot on that day 25 years ago – simply because they were women.

More information regarding the  “Can work be safe when Home isn’t.” survey results  can be found at:  http://www.canadianlabour.ca/issues/domestic-violence-work