Domestic violence
4 min

Remembering the Montreal Massacre

For the anniversary of the massacre of the 14 young women at the École Polytechnique in Montreal, the various parties all released statements about the day, and about gender-based violence.

Prime Minister Harper:

“On December 6, 1989, the lives of 14 young women were cut short in one of the most heinous acts of violence in Canadian history.  They were daughters, sisters, wives and friends whose lives were full of promise and hope, horrifically taken by a gunman at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal.

“That these women were gunned down for no other reason than their gender is as incomprehensible now as it was in 1989.  While we cannot, and probably never will, be able to make sense of the events of that day, we can work to ensure that it never happens again.

“Today, let us remember Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault and Annie Turcotte.  And let us pay tribute to their memory in the best way that we can: by working to eliminate violence against women while making our communities safer for all Canadians.”

Michael Ignatieff:

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff made the following statement on Canada’s annual Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada:

“Twenty-one years ago today, 14 young women were brutally murdered at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal. They were killed because they were women – an act so inconceivable that it compelled Canadians to seriously examine the prevalence of violent acts committed against women.  

“Though we have taken significant steps to address violence against women – including standing up for the life-saving gun registry – there is still much more we must do to ensure that our sisters, daughters, wives and partners will never be persecuted or threatened because of their gender.

“Today, I want every woman who has experienced gender-based violence to know that the Liberal Party of Canada and our entire parliamentary caucus is steadfastly committed to end all acts of violence against women.”

Liberal Status of Women Critic Anitia Neville added:

“Every day, women and girls across Canada and around the world experience emotional, physical and sexual violence, usually at the hands of someone they know.

“Canadian woman should be able to live their lives free of violence – free from even the threat of violence – but that is not the case for too many women, particularly First Nations, Métis and Inuit women.

“The failure to address violence against Aboriginal women is costing lives. The Conservative government must make eliminating violence against them and all Canadian women a priority.”

Chair of the Liberal Women’s Caucus Lise Zarac added:

“While Canadian women have made many gains in terms of achieving formal equality, full substantive equality has yet to be achieved, particularly amongst Aboriginal and ethnic minority women.

“As part of the Liberal Party’s commitment to strengthen Canada’s social foundations, we believe this issue must be addressed decisively if we are to transform our society into one that embraces gender equality and ensures a better quality of life for our children.

“The Liberal Party is committed to the ongoing implementation of the important United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women.”

Jack Layton:

Today New Democrats join all Canadians in mourning the loss of Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz – victims of the tragic 1989 École Polytechnique Massacre.

We also remember all the women across Canada and around the world, who have died simply because they were women.

As we remember, we must turn to action and provide leadership in ending violence against women. New Democrats have long lead the way in combating violence against women, whether it is raising spousal abuse in the House of Commons for the first time (Margaret Mitchell, 1982); co-founding the White Ribbon Campaign (Jack Layton, 1991); or creating the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women (Dawn Black, 1991). Unfortunately, women still face alarming rates of violence and we must all work together to ensure women live in safe communities away from violence or the threat of violence. We must all work together on addressing the gender inequalities that are at the heart of all gender-based violence.

Aboriginal women in Canada face staggering rates of violence which is aggravated by extreme poverty and discrimination. The federal government needs to work in tandem with aboriginal organizations on the ground to develop pro-active preventative strategies that include addressing poverty, homelessness, education, and the cyclical nature of violence, and work to support the victims and their families.

While we mourn, let us turn to action and work together to eliminate all forms of violence against women.

I didn’t see one from Green Party Leader Elizabeth May (and if I missed it, please let me know).

Update: I should have also included the message from His Excellency, Governor General David Johnston:

December 6 is an anniversary we wish didn’t exist. It is a black mark on our history, a day of lost innocence, of sorrow and shame. It is our nation’s Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

On this day, we will remember. We will remember the 14 women murdered at l’École Polytechnique in Montréal, and every woman since who has struggled to break free of brutality and inequality. We will remember that violence afflicts women of all ages and social conditions, causing untold pain to its victims and hurting us all in the process.

On this day, we will act. We will push back against prejudice, fight against unfairness, and refuse to turn a blind eye on such deplorable deeds. We must learn to co-exist side-by-side, to co-operate with one another, to contribute to the advancement of all who live within our great country of Canada.

On this sombre occasion, I challenge all Canadians to come together on this day—and every day—to bring an end to all forms of violence against women. 

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