December 6th marks the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. The Victoria Sexual Assault Centre remembers the 14 women who were murdered, and the 14 others who were injured, at the Montreal Massacre at the École Polytechnique de Montréal in 1989, by a gunman who said he was “fighting feminism.” It was an act of violent misogyny.
We remember and honour Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, and Annie Turcotte.
Thirty-three years later, we still face an epidemic of misogyny and gender-based violence. In 2021, 173 women and girls in Canada were killed by violence. 1 in 3 women will experience sexual assault in their lifetime. Indigenous women and girls are targeted for violence at higher rates and are 12 times more likely to be murdered or made missing than other women in Canada. (Canadian Women’s Foundation)
Our hearts are heavy with news of the murders of Rebecca Contois, Morgan Beatrice Harris, and Marcedes Myran, and Buffalo Woman, as well as all missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people who have not been acknowledged in the news or by the government.
Each of these lives, from the women at École Polytechnique, to the women in Winnipeg, to those across Canada who are unnamed, were precious, we grieve their loss, and we offer our heartfelt support to their families and communities.
At this time, we also acknowledge that violence against Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people is part of the ongoing genocide of Indigenous people in Canada. The murders in Winnipeg are another example, among too many, of the systemic violence and discrimination faced by Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit folks across Turtle Island.
We are in the midst of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence and today is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. There have been many calls for action and justice on the genocide of Indigenous people, but there has not been enough action.
Beginning in Winnipeg, and spreading across the country, is a call for the federal government to declare a state of emergency on missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people. We stand in support of this call and the immediate action of governments across this country to address the crisis of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people that amounts to genocide. The Victoria Sexual Assault Centre stands with survivors and their communities.
- We are contacting our local MP, MLA, and city councilors to demand action on MMIWG2S and to support the call for a national state of emergency;
- We continue to actively build meaningful relationships with, and center the voices and leadership of, Indigenous community members, with the goals of bridging spaces between indigenous communities and organizations for healing and justice;
- We will reach out to local Indigenous organizations to see how we can provide support in a good way during this time of grieving;
- We will continue to develop partnerships with Indigenous-led organizations to offer collaborative care and support, and develop sacred spaces for healing.
If you are in need of services:
If you have been recently assaulted: Access our 24-hour Sexual Assault Response Team service by calling the Vancouver Island Crisis Line (1-888-494-3888) and requesting to speak to a VSAC Sexual Assault Support Worker.
For immediate emotional support call the Vancouver Island Crisis Line (1-888-494-3888 ) and/or if you have health concerns call HealthLink BC at 811 or your health care provider.
VSAC services for Indigenous survivors:
The Victoria Sexual Assault Centre provides services for Indigenous survivors of sexual assault and childhood sexual assault. We have a dedicated Indigenous counsellor and we prioritize access to our services for Indigenous survivors. If you are in need of support, please call r email our Access Line to get in contact for sexual assault support services: 250-383-3232,
Other support services available for Indigenous community members:
Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society, for confidential outreach services such as counselling and cultural support. Toll-free line at 1-888-403-3123.
Support line for those affected by missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, Toll-free support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-844-413-6649.
Hope for Wellness Help Line, offers immediate help to all Indigenous peoples across Canada. Toll-free Help Line at 1-855-242-3310 or connect to the online chat at www.hopeforwellness.ca.