Victims of gender-based violence honoured
Medicine Hat Women’s Shelter hosts annual event, held on the Dec. 6 anniversary of the Montreal Massacre
On Dec. 6, 1989, 14 women were killed while attending school in Montreal — to this day it is still Canada’s largest mass shooting.
The massacre was an act of gender-based violence, and groups around the country, including here in Medicine Hat, get together each year to remember the victims.
“We get together every year on this day to remember the events in Montreal and to remember the victims,” said Medicine Hat Women’s Shelter Society executive director Natasha Carvalho. “Events like this are always important to remember and it’s important that we say the names of the 14 victims every year.
“This shooting in particular is very important to us tonight because it was an act of gender-based violence and it was a deliberate attack on women — I think for us it really spurs a lot of the work we do and gives us a sense of why we do this or what has called us to this field.”
The women’s shelter was set up at Medicine Hat College all day Thursday creating flowers out of paper and helping raise awareness of the history around the massacre, as well as informing people of its programs. It then called for a quick ceremony at 6:30 p.m. where the 14 victims’ names were read and a moment of silence held.
“People have been making the flowers with messages of hope,” said Carvalho. “We’re going to be delivering them to some of our clients or maybe some families that need a little bit of support.”
Carvalho says the shelter had more than 1,300 clients last year and that the “vast majority” of those were women.
“I think people can forget that this is an issue in every community,” she said. “This is still a pretty weighted issue and that’s why we hold these events.
“We want this to be in peoples’ minds so they can think about these things and how we can find fixes and solutions for things like gender-based violence.”
The shelter is running its Adopt a Family program and is looking for community sponsors to help out families locally during the Holiday season.
For more information on the shelter and its programs go to www.mhwss.ca
Above: A board remembers the 14 women killed in the 1989 Montreal Massacre, Canada's largest mass killing and an act of gender-based violence.Right: Women’s shelter executive director Natasha Carvalho speaks during the event.