Amherst vigil to remember victims of violence

Darrell Cole
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Silence is not an option

Community engagement is important if the chain that is domestic violence is to be broken.

AMHERST – Even though it has been nearly a quarter century since a crazed gunman killed 14 women at a Montreal engineering school, organizers of the local National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women said the importance of remembering remains strong.

“We cannot be silent when it comes to violence. We have to take action and challenge the attitudes, behaviour and sexism that contributes to violence against women. It has to stop,” committee member Theresa Halfkenny said.

On Friday, a vigil will be held at First Baptist Church in Amherst from noon to 1 p.m. The vigil will remember the women murdered at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal on Dec. 6, 1989 as well as all victims of violence.

Along with a time of remembrance, there will be a skit performed by elementary school students from River Hebert as well as music followed by a brown bag lunch.

Nov. 25 started 16 days of activism against gender violence, ending on International Human Rights Day on Dec. 10.

Halfkenny said significant gains have been made since 1989, but added there’s still much work to be done.

“So many people, families, children, grandparents and communities continue to be affected by violence against women. A lot has been done since then, but there’s still lots to be done,” Halfkenny said. “We see it here at the shelter ever day and we’re looking at ways to get the message out to the community and spread the message that violence is unacceptable.”

Halfkenny said it’s vital for the community to stop turning a blind eye to domestic violence and feels a community that’s engaged in a discussion on the subject is a healthier one in that it will lead to healing and zero tolerance toward physical, verbal or psychological abuse.

The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada was established in by parliament in 1991. Along with remembering the victims of the Montreal Massacre, committee member Hillary Blanch said the day provides an opportunity for Canadians to reflect on the incidence of violence against women and on those women and children who are victims of violence on a daily basis and to remember those who have died as a result of gender-based violence.

Blanch said it’s also a day for communities to consider concrete actions to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Organizations: First Baptist Church, Ecole Polytechnique, Montreal Massacre

Geographic location: Amherst, Montreal, River Hebert Canada

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