Kingston Heritage
By Tori Stafford
Nov 30, 2016
Events – It’s been 27 years since the Montreal Massacre saw 14 young women murdered at l’Ècole Polytechnique de Montreal, but remembering the events of that day and what caused them is still as important as ever.

“It’s important to say ‘This is still happening.’ That was 1989, this is 2016, and we’re still having all of these women who have lost their lives to violence,” said Jeannie Quinn, chair of the Kingston Anti-Violence Advisory Council.

“It’s not just the women at Polytechnique that we’re commemorating. We’re commemorating all other women, recent women, that have lost their lives, too.”

On Tuesday, Dec. 6, the Anti-Violence Advisory Council will host the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women Vigil, commemorating those lives lost in the Montreal Massacre as well as those women locally and across Ontario killed through gender-based violence. The event also aims to raise awareness of the prevalence of violence against women, while offering solace and support for those who have survived gender-based violence, as well.

The vigil will include a series of speakers discussing the issue and the action needed to combat it before a candlelit commemoration and rose-laying ceremony. During that ceremony, the names of the 14 women killed in the Montreal Massacre are read aloud by attendees who each blow out their candle after commemorating one of those lost. This is followed by the reading of names of women throughout Ontario and here in Kingston who have also been killed through gender-based violence in recent history. As the names are read and the candles snuffed out, a rose is laid to commemorate each woman. The lives of those indigenous women lost on the Highway of Tears will also be commemorated, and The Caledonias, an all-female a cappella choir from Queen’s University will perform during the ceremony. It is a moving and sometimes difficult ceremony to take in, Quinn expressed, which is why the Anti-Violence Advisory Council provides a self-care area for anyone who may be triggered or become upset during the event, and childcare is also provided on site.

“Last year was the first year I went to the vigil, and I was just blown away. It was so heart-wrenching,” said Quinn.

“The candlelight and then having the names read and putting the rose down to commemorate that particular women… it really hits home that this is really happening all the time.”

With approximately one in three women experiencing gender- or relationship-based violence in their lifetime, the issue of violence against women is one both men and women need to take action against, Quinn expressed, and all are welcomed and encouraged to attend the vigil.

“It’s only two hours, so it’s just a short time out of your life to go and give a few minutes to these women that we’ve lost,” said Quinn.

The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women Vigil will take place at HARS, 844a Princess St., beginning at 4:30 p.m.