“On this day, not only do we remember the lives lost to gender-based violence (GBV) and those who continue to be affected,” said Larry Brown, NUPGE President, “but we also renew our commitment to take action to eliminate GBV and misogyny.”
Ottawa (4 Dec. 2019) — On Friday, we observe a day of remembrance in honour of the 14 women who were killed in the École Polytechnique massacre. On December 6, 1989, a male gunman opened fire in a classroom at the Montreal engineering school, specifically targeting the women students in what is the deadliest mass shooting in Canada’s history.
The École Polytechnique massacre, an explicitly anti-feminist attack, is commemorated annually as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
“On this day, not only do we remember the lives lost to gender-based violence (GBV) and those who continue to be affected,” said Larry Brown, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), “but we also renew our commitment to take action to eliminate GBV and misogyny.”
Gender-based violence, hate continues
With this year marking 30 years since the tragedy, it is a chilling reminder of how prevalent GBV, misogyny, and anti-feminist sentiments continue to be three decades later. GBV continues to be far too prevalent in Canada. According to Status of Women Canada, over half of Canadian women have been victims of at least one act of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.
In 2018, a woman or girl was killed every 2.5 days, on average, according to the University of Guelph-based Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability. Femicide is most likely to be committed by an intimate partner.
Its effects are uneven
We know that GBV disproportionately affects marginalized women and gender-diverse people. Indigenous women, women with disabilities, newcomer women, poor women, and LGBTQI2S+ individuals are more likely to experience violence and harassment. Young women also face a high risk of violence.
Violence at work
The École Polytechnique massacre is a somber reminder of the ways in which women and gender-diverse people are targeted at work, because of the work they do, or because of what they choose to study.
Violence continues to be far too pervasive in workplaces and work sites across the country, with women workers and vulnerable workers facing higher risk.
The solutions are right in front of us
Although GBV continues to be prevalent 30 years after the École Polytechnique massacre, we have also seen important advancements when it comes to the growing awareness of GBV and supports for survivors. This is the result of a great deal of advocacy. NUPGE and its Components have long been part of the fight against GBV.
One important development is the growing recognition of the work-related effects of domestic violence. Each of the 10 provinces across Canada has legislated job-protected leave for victims and survivors of domestic violence. We join our allies in calling for paid domestic violence leave in all jurisdictions.
In another important example, the long-awaited National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls concluded in June 2019, releasing over 200 recommendations to address violence and discrimination against Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse people. Once more, we call on the Canadian government to implement all 231 Calls for Justice included in the final report.
Time to act
While many of the solutions are right in front of us, what we require is action, and the political will of decision-makers to implement them.
On Decebmer 6, we remember the lives lost 30 years ago, and all of those lives lost or impacted by GBV in the 30 years since. Such acts of hate and violence have no place in our society.
We stand in solidarity with victims and survivors of GBV, and with all of our allies who continue to fight against gender-based violence, discrimination, harassment, and hate every single day.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE