Moncton – On December 6, 1989, 14 female engineering students at l’École Polytechnique in Montreal were murdered simply because they were women. Canadians were deeply shaken by this event; it left us sad and angry, but determined to fight for change.
However after 21 years, what really changed? The gun registry, created as a result of the Montreal massacre is a proven tool against violence: gun-related spousal homicides are down 50%. Yet, despite facing overwhelming opposition from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, from law enforcement officials, from women’s organizations, from community and business groups, from the general public both rural and urban and from labour, Bill C-391, An Act to repeal the long-gun registry was defeated by a mere 2 votes on September 22nd in the House of Commons. This narrow victory must serve as a wakeup call that we must remain vigilant: small gains from the past can be easily lost.
Each year on December 6th, The National Day of Remembrance and Action to End Violence against Women, we grieve the fourteen women killed in Montreal in 1989. We also turn our thoughts to all women who were murdered or experienced violence at the hands of gender-based violence in their homes, their communities and workplaces.
December 6th is also a day where we renew our commitments to fight for change. Until all women have true economic and social equality, ending the violence we experience is not possible. Fighting violence requires an integrated approach; we must work together and commit ourselves:
· to take a stand on violence against women,
· make violence our business: break the silence,
· listen to the victims: protect them and support them,
· raise non-violent children,
· encourage offenders to get help.
For women to achieve social and economic equality, the New Brunswick Federation of Labour Women’s Committee calls upon the provincial government to focus their efforts to: implement Pay Equity Legislation for the private sector, increase the minimum wage to a living wage, increase funding to social housing, implement a universal and accessible public child care program and increase funding for women’s centres, shelters, rape crisis centres and front-line advocacy and support.
Finally, we encourage all of you to participate in the December 6th activities organized in your region.
Michel Boudreau is the President of the New Brunswick Federation of Labour and
Sandy Harding is the VP for Women’s Issues of the New Brunswick Federation of Labour.