Dear Sisters and Brothers,
On December 6th, 1989, a man armed with a hunting rifle entered the University of Montréal’s engineering faculty and opened fire on women, claiming he was fighting feminism. He murdered 14 women, mostly young engineering students, before killing himself. The only non-student, Maryse Laganière, was a CUPE member who worked at the faculty.
As we mark the anniversary of that horrific event, we remember the many women who to this day are injured or killed throughout Canada, often at the hands of their intimate partners. “First mourn. Then work for change.” That is the call to action inscribed on the December 6th monument in Riverview.
Women in our province, like women throughout the country, continue to flee abusive homes, often with young children, and take refuge in shelters. Sometimes their violent partner finds them in their workplaces. Poverty and discrimination still trap far too many women in violent relationships. The current austerity climate has had a devastating impact on Canadian workers, including many women who have lost jobs and who have difficulty in accessing Employment Insurance benefits.
Aboriginal women are much more likely to suffer from violence than other women. The Native Women’s Association of Canada has identified more than 600 missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls across Canada, and the violence continues. At the 2013 CUPE NB Convention, members adopted a resolution demanding that the federal government establish a national public inquiry and an action plan to address this tragic situation.
Government action is urgently needed to address the root causes of violence, part of the bigger picture of women’s inequality. The New Brunswick government provides some funding for front-line victims services and awareness-raising initiatives, but lacks a master plan for achieving true economic and social equality for women. With no national action plan in place to end violence against women, the federal government continues to defund advocacy organizations that have provided a voice for women and the most vulnerable in Canada.
What can you do to end violence against women? Ask your MLA and MP what actions are underway to improve the situation of women and girls and how they will track progress on gender equality. Stand up and speak out against verbal and physical abuse wherever it happens. Treating others with respect sends a powerful message, particularly if you are male. Support anti-violence campaigns and groups working in your communities. Participate in the national survey on the impacts of violence against women, on workers, and the workplace that will be launched by the Canadian Labour Congress in December 2013.
Everyone is welcome to participate in the December 6th events organized across New Brunswick:
Shippagan : Commemorative Walk, Kiosks, Christmas Lunch, etc. – December 4th; Kiosks from 10 a.m. at the Shippagan campus of the Université de Moncton; Walk from 12:20 to 1 p.m. (leaves from main entrance of the campus). For more information, contact Karen Lanteigne, phone (506) 395-7632.
Bathurst: Commemorative Walk & Action To End Violence – December 6th, noon. From Holy Family Church parking lot to Bathurst Youth Center. For more information, contact Soleil Thériault, phone (506) 545-8952.
Miramichi: Commemorative ceremony – December 6th, 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., NBCC Miramichi, 80 University Ave. For more information, contact Patty Michaud, Domestic Violence Outreach Services, phone (506) 778-6496.
Candlelighting Ceremony – December 6th, 8 a.m. – 8:30 a.m., , Chancery Place, 675 King St. Organized by the Women’s Equality Branch, Government of NB.
Commemorative Ceremony – December 6th, starting at noon at the University of New Brunswick – Fredericton, upstairs in the Student Union Ballroom.
Riverview: December 6th, beginning at 6:30 p.m., gathering at Father Dan Bohan Centre, 5 Fatima Drive, next to Riverview Town Hall, followed by a candlelight vigil and laying of roses at the monument at Caseley Park. Organized by the December 6th Committee of Moncton and District Labour Council. For more information, phone (506) 852-9609.
St. Andrews: An Hour of Remembrance and Hope – December 6th, from 7 p.m., Wesley United Church, 77 William St., St. Andrews. Organized by the Charlotte County Abuse Prevention Network. For further information, phone Charlotte County Community Outreach at (506) 469-5544.