The Women of Wisdom drummers perform on Dec. 6 during a Whitehorse event dedicated to remembering the victims of the 1989 Polytechnique massacre in Montreal. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Ending misogyny is far from over 29 years after Polytechnique massacre: lawyer

There have been 132 women and girls killed in Canada this year, said Pamela Cross

Violence against women is unabated in Canada. That was the overarching message on the 29th anniversary of the Ecole Polytechnique massacre in Montreal.

“We name these 14 women and grieve for them, so that we will remember that gender-based violence is not something happening in the abstract,” said Kirsten Hogan, chair of Engineers Yukon, at a Whitehorse event dedicated to remembering the victims of the 1989 mass murder.

“It is happening here in our homes, in our schools, in our workplaces. Lives are lost, and the ones left behind are forever changed.”

Hogan’s voice wavered during her speech as she grappled to fight back tears and keep her composure.

“We can gather here today to grieve together and heal together,” she said.

Hogan read the names of each slain woman out loud, giving 14 white roses to female members of the Yukon’s engineering community.

Forty-two red roses were provided to the audience in a testament to the number of missing or murdered Indigenous women in the Yukon.

But the fight to eliminate misogyny is far from over, a point each speaker referred to in varying degrees.

“Sadly, in the three decades since the Montreal massacre, we’ve come to realize that (Marc) Lépine’s twisted thinking was not unique,” said Pamela Cross, a feminist lawyer from Ontario. “We now understand that there is a straight and strong line between violence against women and mass killings.”

While there have been some successes — how criminal law responds to sexual assault, for instance — “too much remains the same or is getting worse,” Cross continued.

“Sexual assault remains the most underreported crime in the country,” she said, noting that there are roughly 460,000 sexual assaults every year in Canada, according to the YWCA.

For every 1,000 of those incidents, Cross continued, 33 are reported to the police; of the latter number, 29 result in charges, six are prosecuted, three result in convictions.

“We move from 1,000 to three very, very quickly,” she said.

This year, there have been 132 women and girls killed in Canada in 11 months, Cross said.

“More women have been killed in Canada in acts of femicide this year than ever before,” she said.

“Until we end and address misogyny, our responses to violence against women will amount to little more than putting Band-Aids on wounds requiring major surgery,” Cross added.

There was a male speaker at the event — Steve Caram, a board member of White Ribbon Yukon, a male-driven organization to end violence against women and girls.

Caram conceded to living in “a bubble” previously, that he wouldn’t pay attention to the news because it was “depressing, sombre.”

“I didn’t want to have that darkness inside me,” he said, noting that this bubble of his was a “fun, safe, wonderful place.”

“As I stand here before you as a white male in Canada, I never realized all the doorways that are open to me, by default,” Caram said.

He eventually acknowledged the struggles of others and checked his privilege, he said.

“This is why we gather here today, not only to reflect, but to become aware, collectively, to understand, to, most importantly, take action,” Caram said. “And that’s something I’ve realized is worth attending, worth showing up for, to figure out how we can all take action to prevent such violence from happening again in our community and in our society.”

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate members Bill Bennett, community engagement coordinator and Mobile Therapeutic Unit team lead, left, and Katherine Alexander, director of policy and analytics, speak to the News about the Mobile Therapeutic Unit that will provide education and health support to students in the communities. (yfned.ca)
Mobile Therapeutic Unit will bring education, health support to Indigenous rural students

The mobile unit will begin travelling to communities in the coming weeks

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, speak during a live stream in Whitehorse on January 20, about the new swish and gargle COVID-19 tests. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Swish and spit COVID-19 test now available in Yukon

Vaccination efforts continue in Whitehorse and smaller communities in the territory

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Most Read