Joel Duff —
December 6 marks the anniversary of the 1989 École Polytechnique Massacre in which 14 women were murdered because they were women. The École Polytechnique was not only a college but also a workplace and two of the women murdered that day were members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
This senseless act of violence against women shocked our nation and became the catalyst for collective action to end violence against women.
“The recent shooting of 12 people that killed three and left nine wounded at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs serves as harsh reminder that, 26 years after the Montréal Massacre, men continue to use violence to control women’s bodies and choices,” said Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) Secretary-Treasurer Patty Coates. “We must stand defiantly against this violent hatred and fight for the full equality of women and girls.”
Today, in Canada, violence against women is still very much a serious and pervasive problem that crosses every social boundary and affects communities from coast to coast to coast. According to recent Statistics Canada research, on average, every six days a woman in Canada is killed by her partner and, on any given day, there are more than 3,000 women (along with their 2,500 children) living in emergency shelters to flee domestic violence. Many more women suffer in silence due to lack of adequate resources to support women shelters—often in rural and remote communities across Canada. Violence remains a significant barrier to women’s equality and it disproportionately affects Aboriginal women, racialized women, trans women, women with disabilities and other marginalized women who are marginalized in our society.
“After a decade of Harper’s dismissal and denial, the OFL is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to immediately make good on his promise to launch a national inquiry into the over 1,200 missing and murdered Aboriginal Women,” said OFL President Chris Buckley. “These ‘Stolen Sisters’ are the victims of hate-fuelled violence, misogyny and a colonial history that deems their lives less valuable. Each and every case deserves a full investigation but the roots of this violence must also be examined, along with the systems that failed these Indigenous women.”
A National Operational Overview of the RCMP has revealed that 1,181 Indigenous women have gone missing or were murdered between the years of 1980 and 2012. Many more have disappeared since. Indigenous women represent 16% of the women who were murdered in Canada, but only make up approximately 4% of the Canadian population. These statistics provide evidence that Indigenous women are being specifically targeted.
“This December 6, workers are calling on Canadians to join them in demanding justice for our Stolen Sisters and in reaching out to all families of female victims whose lives have been forever altered by acts of violence,” said Coates.