This Monday marks the 32nd anniversary of the École Polytechnique Massacre, when 14 women were killed. Each year, the women are honoured through candlelight vigils and this year ceremonies are returning as in-person events.
The Vernon and Salmon Arm Okanagan College campuses will host vigils “as a symbolic commitment to end violence against women.”
“The SAFE Society has been partnering with Okanagan College and students for over a decade to offer the event, as an important way to remember and honour women who have lost their lives due to violence or continue to struggle with it,” said SAFE Society counsellor, Kathy McIntyre-Paul, in a press release.
Last year, the event was held virtually due to the pandemic. It featured music and Indigenous Elder prayers.
According to Micki Materi, co-executive director of Archway Society for Domestic Peace, every six days in Canada a woman is killed by her intimate partner. More than 6,000 women and children sleep in shelters a night because it isn’t safe at home. Indigenous women are almost seven times more likely to be murdered than non-Indigenous women.
“Dec. 6 has come to symbolize the threat and reality of violence in women’s daily lives. We must remember and then we must act — because we won’t end violence against women until we achieve equality,” Materi said in a statement.
The vigils will start at 4:45 p.m. on Monday outside the cafeteria at each campus.
Those who are not comfortable gathering at this time are invited to watch a presentation of advocates, volunteers and survivors who share messages of hope in pledging to end violence against women.
“While we know that this issue has been given national attention, we can’t forget that this can and does happen close to home. Events like this reaffirm our commitment to supporting our local communities,” said James Coble, director of student services at Okanagan College, in a statement.
“Okanagan College stands in solidarity with families and friends of missing women, and know for many, this event can act as a catalyst for healing.”
Given the difficult nature of the event, access to support services are available on the Okanagan College website.