77 roses laid out in memory of victims of femicide for National Day of Remembrance

6 December 2023 / by Met Radio

Today marks the 34th anniversary of the École Polytechnique Massacre and the 32nd National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada.

The National Day of Remembrance first started in 1991 as a response to the École Polytechnique Massacre where 14 women were killed and another 13 were wounded. It is a day to remember “those who have experienced gender-based violence and those who we have lost to it,” according to the Canadian Government.

Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) held a memorial in the Sears Auditorium in the campus Engineering Building to commemorate the day.

Tamar Myers, director of research, planning and assessment at TMU, shared a story about going to École Polytechnique shortly before the massacre.

“To this day, I always make sure to take the time on Dec. 6. Just to think about what happened, and how important it is to remember. For me, it is one, it is one way of continuing to raise awareness about violence against women and girls,” says Myers.

The Day of Remembrance is part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. The theme of this year from the Canadian Government is “listen, learn and act.”

“We listen without the intent of listening. When we do that the other person often feels misheard or heard. I think, when we don’t listen to them, we can’t really do much to resolve or come up with an actionable plan to make the environment feel safe,” says Naureen Kaur, co-president of Women in Engineering at TMU.

Throughout the year, Ontario municipalities have been declaring gender-based violence and epidemic, with Toronto making that declaration in August 2023. As well, the National Action Plan Against Gender-Based Violence received an additional $162 million in funding for Ontario.

The Ontario Association of Interval & Transition Houses has been keeping track of femicide cases in Ontario since 2015. In the 2022-2023 report they released at the start of the 16 days, in the province they have recorded 62 confirmed cases of femicide. 16 of those cases took place in Toronto.

At the end of TMU’s event, they put roses into vases to commemorate the women lost at École Polytechnique and this year in Ontario. They had 14 white roses for the women at Polytechnique, 62 red roses for the women and girls in Ontario that were victims of femicide and one red rose for the women outside of Canada.

“We’ve come a long way but more change is needed. We must work to end violence against women, not just on this national day but every day. Not only is gender equality a fundamental human right, but it is the foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world,” says Myers. “I encourage you all to be part of this movement for change, to listen, learn and act to support those affected by gender based violence and confronted in your daily lives.”

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