Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 148, Issue 127

Thursday, December 6, 2012
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

International Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, 23 years ago, on December 6, 1989, Marc Lépine shot 28 people at the École Polytechnique in Montreal. Early in the evening, Lépine entered a mechanical engineering class of about 60 students. He separated the nine women from the men and ordered the men to leave. He declared:

I am fighting feminism. You’re women, you’re going to be engineers. You’re all a bunch of feminists. I hate feminists.

Then, using a legally obtained semi-automatic rifle, he shot the women, killing six and wounding three. Lépine killed 14 women during his 45-minute-long attack. The École Polytechnique massacre remains among the largest attacks against women in Canadian history.

The young women were killed just because they were women. Today, honourable senators, we remember the 14 women who died that day. Today, as we cherish our own sisters and daughters, our own mothers and grandmothers, our own female neighbours and women friends, we also struggle to imagine the pain and sorrow of losing someone we love to violence and hatred.

Many among us know that terrible pain. That is why, on this National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, we need to resolve with every fibre of our being to do more to confront violence. We need to do more as senators to confront violence in the media. We need to do more as senators to confront poverty, isolation and alienation. We need to do more as senators to prevent gun violence.

The statistics on violence against women are disturbing. Today, in Canada, more than 3,000 women, along with their 2,500 children, live in emergency shelters to escape domestic violence. Half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16. Sixty per cent of women with disability experience some form of violence. As of 2010, there were 582 cases of missing or murdered Aboriginal women in Canada.

Honourable senators, today we remember, we mourn and we reflect. We reach out to the families of the 14 young women who were killed 23 years ago.

We know that the pain of loss from losing a loved one lives with you. We remember all young women who have suffered violence, and we reach out to their families. Today we remember the 582 missing Aboriginal women and we reach out to their families.

We have not forgotten you, and we have not forgotten your daughters and your sisters.

Thank you.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.