REGINA – It was a somber Sunday at the Artesian as dozens of people took time to remember the victims of the École Polytechnique Massacre that took place on December 6, 1989 in Montreal.
A table was set up at the front of the hall with 14 place cards bearing the names of the murdered woman; along with a candle and rose for each one. It’s all part of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
“We need to bring awareness to our community and to society as a whole to what women are enduring,” said event chair Judy Kobsar.
This vigil extended its focus beyond the Montreal Massacre victims and included other issues; specifically missing and murdered Indigenous women and domestic abuse.
“We have the dubious distinction of being number one, or first among the Canadian provinces in intimate partner violence, intimate partner homicide,” said Jo-Anne Dusel.
Dusel is the provincial coordinator of the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan (PATHS).
In her experience working with shelters and transition houses, Dusel said many women only use them as a last resort.
“Often it’s the women who have no other resources. Women who have good employment or good family supports may not need to come and stay in a shelter.”
For the women who use these shelters it provides more than just a safe place to stay.
“We also provide crisis counseling, we advocate for them with government agencies we can provide referrals to counseling and legal aide,” explained Dusel.
Kobsar has her share of experience helping abused women. She said she has helped several friends who were facing domestic abuse. In her experience the most valuable tool she has is education.
“So if we educate them a little bit more to say that there are shelters out there. There are organizations out there that are ready and willing to help them.”
Dusel said a good resource to find information about shelters in any part of Canada is sheltersafe.ca.