December 6th Remembrance of Ecole Polytechnique Speech

Good morning, it is an honour to be here today to speak.  The priority of every woman and man here today is to end violence against women and girls.  This remains a daunting task. 

It is hard to speak about the murders of the 14 young women at l’Ecole Polytechnique.  Young women, shot and killed simply because they were women. We gather together each year and remember, but year after year we fail to address the systemic sexism and misogyny that permeates within our culture and in our communities, an underlying thread that gives power to the violence women experience.  

It distresses me that women still have to face violence every day.  And that our government fails to adequately fund shelters, train professionals and assist women fleeing abuse.  No woman should have to make a choice between housing and abuse, or poverty and abuse.  No woman should be forced to choose between living with an abusive partner or fleeing, no woman should be given no option but leave her children with that abuser.  But these are choices women have to make every day.

Our aboriginal sister are among those who experience the keenest edge of this violence which is rooted in colonization, assimilation, and cultural genocide.  And while we might recognize the great harm we have done to aboriginal women – there remains lingering violence that manifests itself in the chronic lack of decent housing, educational opportunity and economic security.

We can do better; we can do more.  Let us commit ourselves to turn remembrance into action and provide leadership to end violence against women. This can only happen if we are determined to address the gender inequalities at the heart of the gender-based violence that robs women of their right to security.