March for women
Despite frigid weather, more than 30 people gathered for a vigil in Kenora Market Square Thursday to remember women and girls who’ve violently lost their lives because of their gender.
The Dec. 6 vigil marked 29 years since 14 women were shot and killed at École Polytechnique in Montreal by a gunman who blamed feminism for “ruining his life.” Twelve of the 14 women were engineering students.
Dec. 6 has since become National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada.
Local elder Cathy Lindsay opened the vigil with a prayer, before speaking to the crowd.
“We’re honouring our women,” Lindsay said.
“I hope we can stand more in vigil — not just today,” Linday said. “Our ancestors stood vigil almost every day. Yes, we can pray but we need to stand.”
Lindsay thanked the men who attended, and who marched with signs in solidarity from Husky the Musky, noting that men should and do stand beside women, rather than above them.
Attendees at the Kenora vigil laid roses on a blanket held down with candles.
Fourteen white roses represented the women murdered at École Polytechnique. Red roses represented the lives of Kenora-area women who lost their lives because of genderbased violence. A purple rose represented the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.
It’s good to have opportunities to honour and recognize women and girls who’ve died due to their gender, said Sarah Beckman, Ne-Chee Friendship Centre’s Indigenous healing and wellness coordinator.
“A lot of times, when someone passes that we love, it’s a matter of the heart,” Beckman said “We carry that pain in our heart for a very long time and for some people it’s easier than others to go through that grieving process.”
She said it was an honour to help the people and organizations that attended the vigil.
“For me, being a helper is what today is all about, and recognizing those women that have passed on and the violence that exists in our community, so we can move beyond that, and move forward,” Beckman said.
David Trask was one of the men who marched from Husky the Musky to the square. He works with Ne-Chee Friendship Centre as a coordinator with the Kizhaay Anishinaabe Niin, or I am a kind man, program.
“I work with men and boys who have previously been or are currently involved in the justice system, related to abuse against women and girls,” Trask said. “So my part in this is I’m trying to encourage as many men in Kenora as possible to come out and support our women and girls.”
Trask is also part of the local violence against women coalition, which organized the vigil. The coalition is made up of representatives from Ne-Chee Friendship Centre, the Ontario Native Women’s Association, the Kenora Sexual Assault Centre, Women’s Place Kenora, the Metis Nation of Ontario and Saakaate House.
Jake Boutwell, David Trask and OPP community safety officer Const. Jason Canfield march in support of the National Day of Remembrance and Action Against Women in Canada on Dec. 6.
Melissa Bodner speaks at the vigil, explaining the significance of the day, before attendees laid roses.
Jennifer Coulis, community wellness coordinator with the Mètis Nation of Ontario, lights a candle before the vigil began.