Dec. 6, 2023
Be part of the change on National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women
Every year on Dec. 6, the University of Calgary observes the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. The observance, now in its 34th year, commemorates the anniversary of the murder of 14 women (and injury of 10) in a brutal act of anti-feminist violence at the École Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989. Known as the Montreal Massacre, it is a tragic event in Canadian history. The victims on that day were university students and staff.
Since gender-based violence is still so prevalent, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women continues to be dedicated to raising awareness and inspiring advocacy. In Canada and around the world, women, girls and 2SLGBTQI+ individuals face unacceptable violence and discrimination. Reports of domestic violence especially increased during the Covid-19 pandemic due to lockdown, and discrimination against women of colour and transgender women continues to be a problem. Additionally, the day serves to bring attention to the multiple missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
The memorial ceremony
To honour the women who lost their lives on Dec. 6, 1989, as well as to emphasize the importance of acknowledging and fighting against gender-based violence, UCalgary held an annual ceremony on Dec. 6.
The ceremony was held in the Engineering Main Atrium (ENG 122). A livestream of the ceremony was also available for those who are unable to attend in person.
This year, it opened with a prayer by Elder Kerrie Moore, and featured two speakers: Dr. Kiara Mikita, PhD, sexual violence educator with the Cumming School of Medicine and Alberta Health Services, and Verity Turpin, vice-provost (student experience). Students from the School of Creative and Performing Arts provided music: Sora Kim and Isaac Willocks on violin, as well as Ruth Yang on vocals.
Mikita offered some thoughts ahead of her keynote: "Combating gender-based violence means preventing it in how we talk with young people about gender, in the way we teach them, and as they learn about, gender and sexuality. This sometimes requires that we pause and consider the messages and ideas that have informed our own thinking.
"All of this works toward shifting and unsettling foundations of gender-based violence that can often evolve from long-held, unchallenged, problematic beliefs.”
The Women’s Resource Centre hosted candle making, another annual UCalgary tradition. The origin of this tradition began in 1987 by the Canadian Voice of Women as a means of spreading the message of peace.
Candles hand-made by university students will also be sold at tables in various spots on campus during the 16 Days of Activism between the International Day of Violence Against Women (Nov. 25) and International Human Rights Day (Dec. 10). They are made entirely out of beeswax and are sold for $4 each or $8 a pair in the following colours: burgundy, evergreen, purple, and natural.
With these events, UCalgary aims to empower and amplify the voices of its female students; promote inclusivity and equal opportunity for all; and create a space in which women feel comfortable talking about gender-based violence and advocating for its end.