by Hani Yassine
The Lance – Arts Editor
One by one, we hear about the victims, their names and who they were. One by one, a rose is placed within a memorial to serve as a reminder of how their lives were tragically cut short.
These actions were the precedent set Dec. 6, which marked the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women. “Organized by the Womyn’s Centre, a crowd gathered around the university’s Memorial of Hope in the afternoon as engineering and nursing students commemorated the 14 victims of the 1989 L’Ecole Polytechnique massacre in Montreal, as they were killed specifically due to their gender. The ceremony was to send a simple but strong message on violence against women.
“It’s something that’s visual for our students to see,” said Women in Engineering president Kathryn Doe. “When they actually see the roses in place of those 14 who were killed that day, it’s something that really touches a lot of people and impacts the students who are present.”
The shooting in Montreal, as well as the murder of nurse Lori DuPont which made local headlines just over a decade ago, are just a couple of examples of violent acts made towards women in a workplace or educational environment. As some still feel gender equality is facing an uphill battle, the ceremony is serves as a platform to have the playing field levelled.
“There are so many women being killed. On a National Day of Remembrance, I think it’s important that we embrace in honour those very tragic killings,” said Registered Nurses member Deborah Kane, who also serves as an assistant professor for the university’s Faculty of Nursing. “This sounds so simple, but if we were all just kind to one another, we wouldn’t be shooting each other.”
As far as action and prevention go, Kane finds movements such as the Bystander Initiative to be a step in the right direction, and Doe believes one of the best ways to usher in a change is to lead by proper example.
As its arguable these tragedies are becoming increasingly common, Dean of Students Clayton Smith finds it to be impossible to separate yourself from the situation. Having attended the ceremony every year since beginning his time at the university, the issue hits home from a personal standpoint, as it should for everyone else within campus and beyond.
“It is not something you can not be a part of,” Smith said. “It’s about people in society not treating each other with respect.”
The ceremony followed with a reception at Katzman Lounge.
Correction Notice (Update Dec. 12) : The Lance originally published the following: “Officially put on by the Registered Nurses Association and Women in Engineering..” – While university engineering and nursing students participated in the commemoration, the event was set up by the Womyn’s Centre who were not mentioned upon the article’s initial publication. The Lance regrets and apologizes for the omission and has corrected it in the above text.