Even though I am half way around the World this date can not possible escape me.
Today, as I went to the first of three day meetings held in the conference centre at the Mokolodi Game Park, I wore my purple ribbon to honour the purple ribbon campaign against violence. On our drive to the Game Park this morning our entire discussion in our vehicle focussed on gender based violence. And of the sixty five people attending the Maatla meetings about twenty actually inquired about my purple ribbon pin. Most importantly, a group of us tomorrow will take five minutes to light a candle in memory of all the women who have been victims of domestic or gender based violence.
For those not familiar with the significance of December 6th (http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/dates/vaw-vff/index-eng.html) , it is the Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. On Dec 6, 1989, a man walked into the University of Montreal’s School of Engineering with a semi-automatic weapon and opened fire on women. In total 14 women lost their lives that day,while another 9 were injured just because they were women. That day in history will be forever engraved in my mind and my spirit. He targeted these women because he believed that women were responsible for him not being accepted for the Engineering Program.
The fourteen women so brutally murdered were: Anne-Marie Edward, Anne-Marie Lemay, Annie St. Arneault, Annie Turcotte, Barbara Daigneault,
Barbara Maria Klueznick, Genevieve Bergeron, Helen Colgan, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganiere, Maryse Leclair, Michele Richard, Natalie Croteau and Sonia
Although December 6th is specifically a Canadian day of mourning for the women whose lives have been cut short by violence, the issue of gender based violence is international. Each year, I hope that we as individuals, communities, societies and the human race can take some steps forward in ensuring the end of violence against women. This means educating both young boys and girls that violence is never appropriate or a solution. It is never okay to physically, verbally or mentally abuse anyone.
On November 25th, I participated in the opening event of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence here in Botswana. Tomorrow I will remember and cry for all of the women and girls who live their lives in fear of violence and for those whose lives were ended as a result of gender based violence.
So I ask you to join me in either privately lighting a candle of remembrance or attending a memorial service in your area. For those in PEI, here are the details http://peiacsw.wordpress.com/2012-2013-purple-ribbon-campaign/2012-memorial-services-for-victims-of-violence/. Stopping violence is everyone’s job but it is also just as important to stop and remember those who could not walk away and lost their lives because of it for that could anyone’s story, yours, your Mother’s, your sister’s, your aunt, your Grandmother or friend. No woman deserves to die just because she is a woman.