Government of Canada marks National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women


December 6, 2017 

Ottawa, Ontario - The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women, today issued the following statement:

“On this day in 1989, 13 female students and a female administrator at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal were tragically murdered simply because they were women. Twenty-eight years later, Canadians continue to come together to remember and to mourn this tragic loss. From coast to coast to coast, candles will be lit, roses will be given, and tears will be shed as the names of these 14 women remind us that gender-based violence is still a reality for too many.

The shocking impact of their deaths mobilized Canadians and led Parliament to designate December 6th as a day to remember the potential we lost in these young women. This day annually falls during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence; it starts with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25th, and ends with International Human Rights Day on December 10th.

Today we honour those 14 women who were so needlessly taken from their loved ones in 1989, and recognize the ongoing tragic impacts of gender-based violence.

On this day, it is important that we speak their names in remembrance, and in recognition of all of the victims of gender-based violence whose names we may not know:  

Geneviève Bergeron
Hélène Colga
Nathalie Croteau
Barbara Daigneault
Anne-Marie Edward
Maud Haviernick
Maryse Laganière
Maryse Leclair
Anne-Marie Lemay
Sonia Pelletier
Michèle Richard
Annie St-Arneault
Annie Turcotte
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz

To those who are still vulnerable, such as members of the LGBTQ2 community, Indigenous women, newcomers and disabled women, we will not tolerate discrimination and violence. To those Canadians who lost someone on December 6th, to those who have lost loved ones, and to survivors of gender-based violence, know this: these senseless murders have their roots in misogyny and have placed feminism under attack. They have also contributed to this moment in our history when feminism is something we are proud of. While we cannot change the story of these 14 young women, we remember them and reaffirm our resolve to do better and be better for women and girls with us today and tomorrow.   

We know there is still much work to do. The need is made evident through the recent #MeToo movement. It is evident in statistics such as the recently released figure from Statistics Canada which found that in 2016, women accounted for more than 150 of the 611 police-reported homicides. That’s one in four homicides. And yet, there is hope, hope for a future where people are respected, where violence is not accepted, where women and girls are secure, with the choice and opportunities to pursue their dreams.

To support this vision, our Government is working with Canadians to help build an inclusive, respectful society by stepping up and speaking out to stop gender-based violence. As part of this effort, we invite Canadians to share what they will do to end this violence by using the hashtag #MYActionsMatter and to take a pledge to help end gender-based violence. To this day, close to 40,000 people have taken the pledge.

Canadians have the support of this Government, whether it be through the first federal strategy to prevent and address gender-based violence, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, the National Housing Strategy, and investments in shelters.

We each have the opportunity and the responsibility to stand up against misogyny, sexism, and hate, and it starts with creating a culture of respect. This means engaging everyone to be part of the solution, including men and boys. Together, we can honour the lives lost on December 6th, 1989, by working to prevent this violence before it begins.

We are living in an exceptional time right now. Survivors of gender-based violence are coming together, speaking as one, and standing shoulder to shoulder. They are finding their courage—and everyone who has felt alone should be inspired by this newfound courage. 

Today, we mark our country’s enduring connection to 14 women who were silenced while pursuing their dreams. We cannot change the story. But we can honour their memory and ensure that every Canadian has the freedom to pursue their own dreams, free from the threat of gender-based violence.”


Célia Canon
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Status of Women

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