Each year I write a message on December 6th, the National Day of Action and Remembrance on Violence Against Women. Today we remember Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik Widajewicz, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, and Annie Turcotte, who were gunned down on this day 24 years ago in Montreal, simply because they were women participating in a man’s world by studying engineering.
We also remember the many, many women in our own communities and around the world who have been the victims of gender-based violence since then, as well as those who have faced it and survived, and those who continue to face it every day.
It always makes me tremendously sad.
This year, though, I am equally angry.
I am angry violence against women is still so much a part of our world.
I am angry when I think about those women whose particular voices are often silenced and stories of violence not told: indigenous women, racialized women, trans women, elders, and women with disabilities.
I was angry this past Tuesday in the House of Commons public gallery as I watched a Conservative MP make a statement on the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence and seeing many of her colleagues stand and applaud the sentiment, even as their government still refuses to call a national inquiry into the more than 600 cases of missing and murdered indigenous women over the past 20 years.
I am also angry that the Conservative government couldn’t give us legislation to fight “revenge porn” (sharing intimate images without consent) that wasn’t part of a hidden agenda to expand police powers and fight cable theft.
I am angry that the B.C. government is still dragging its feet on implementing all the recommendations from the Missing Women’s Commission of Inquiry Report and is forcing Pickton’s victims’ families to continue to wait for compensation.
So I note this is a day of action as well as of remembrance, and we can’t wait any longer for the action.
Groups like the Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters and Transition Houses, the Canadian Federation of University Women and the Canadian Labour Congress are using today to call on our federal and provincial governments to work together on the UN recommendation to establish a National Action Plan on Violence Against Women and Girls by the year 2015.
“While there are many worthwhile initiatives current underway in our communities, Canada must work with provinces, territories and other stakeholders to adopt a comprehensive and coordinated approach to address the root causes of gender-based violence. This is why we are calling on all federal political parties to support the creation of a National Action Plan on Violence against Women and Girls”, said Susan Murphy, CFUW President.
The Canadian Labour Congress’ statement says an action plan is needed to provide a “proactive, comprehensive approach to a systemic problem.”
If you take one action today, let it be this:
Visit the YWCA’s Rose Campaign site and send a message to your Member of Parliament that calls on them to support a National Action Plan on Violence Against Women and Girls, and a national inquiry on missing and murdered indigenous women. Better yet, if you have time, take some of the key information, draft a message in your own words, find your MP’s email, and send it to them directly.
And if you’re able to do more, check out the YWCA’s December 6th toolkit (pdf) for a range of actions to take, from small to large, and a list of other resources to pursue.