An intimate gathering took place on Tuesday evening, December 6th 2016 at The Gallery, Sault College. With approximately 60 people in attendance, Jenna Van Hoek, Sexual Assault/Abuse Crisis Counselor, Women in Crisis (Algoma), shared, “November 6th has come to be recognized as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women.”
It was 27 years ago, December 6th, 1989, when a lone gunmen, bent on terrorism against women, entered the halls of Ecole Polytechnique, Engineering School in Montreal, Quebec. He would ultimately shoot 28 people, killing 14 women, before committing suicide.
Jenna Van Hoek, Sarah Paciocco and Jennifer Leosk, sexual assault and abuse crisis counselors with ‘Women in Crisis (Algoma), organized the remembrance event.
“As we remember these lives taken it is imperative that we also recognize the over 600 murdered and missing Indigenous girls and women in Canada. These numbers are disproportionally high. According to statistics, by the Native Women’s’ Association, nearly 1/2 of these murder cases, remain unsolved.” said Van Hoek.
A video presentation continued throughout the evening, with the names of 668 women and children who have been murdered in Ontario.
The Healing Lodge Singers (Theresa Binda, Myah Binda, Adrienne Surace and Christine King), opened the remembrance event with two moving songs. Erin & Wade Lodge also shared meaningful music, through song and guitar.
Inspector Monique Rollin, Division Commander of Investigative Services, SSM Police Service, was the guest speaker. Now in her 30th year of policing, Rollin has recently joined the Board of Directors for Women in Crisis (Algoma).
Monique Rollin stated, “The world we know is now at war against terrorism. We understand the word terrorism. The massacre of the women (at Ecole Polytechnique) is one of the earliest unrecognized acts of terrorism against women.”
“It is incumbent upon each of us to have the courage to push for change.” she said. “I’ve seen important changes throughout my policing career; creating mandatory charge policies, specialized domestic violence courts, victim advocates services, cooperation of probation services and partnerships, but it’s not enough. We must find within ourselves, both women and men, the commitment and dedication to the rights of women, and to the safety of our children.”
Each person attending received a keepsake memorial piece of jewelry art, which spoke to the theme for the event, ‘Circle of Life’. Sarah Paciocco explained that the theme for the evening is told through story in the artwork, which is a silver tree, with amethyst pieces creating the leaves, all brought together in a circular memento that can be hung.
A candlelight ceremony, honouring the 14 women from Ecole Ploytechnique, who were tragically taken on December 6th, 1989, closed the evening.