Women to unite against femicide

Marc Lepine entered the school of engineering at the University of Montreal Dec. 6, 1989, preparing to do battle with his perceived enemy – women.

Screaming, You’re all fucking feminists, he opened fire on a classroom, killing 14 women and wounding nine other women and four men, before he killed himself.

Lepine left behind a three-page suicide note, blaming all of his failures on women, including his inability to complete an application to the school of engineering. He also created a list of 15 prominent Canadian women who were his next targets.

A decade later, GW students and members of the community are planning to host a candlelight vigil on the steps of the Canadian Embassy. The vigil is meant to remember the victims of the Montreal Massacre and raise awareness about violence against women, said GW women’s studies Professor Nancy Turner, an organizer of the event.

In this country our memories are so short, Turner said of the little awareness there is of femicide – the killing of women born from a hatred or sense of ownership of women. The reality of violence against women is denied, and women are blamed for (the violence).

The event, held in honor of Femicide Awareness Day, as declared by women’s groups, is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday. First held in 1990, and Turner said she attended the event with a group of GW students in 1991. In past years participants, who were cloaked in black, handed out statements detailing the massacre and how it relates to other forms of violence against women, Turner said. She said she was surprised at how many people exiting the Canadian Embassy had a sense that they didn’t know what the event was about, despite the day being a national day of mourning in Canada.

Senior Heather Lynn Anderson, an organizer of the event, said one of its goals is to raise awareness of the mass murder in Montreal and remind the public that this type of violence also occurs in the U.S.

Incidents of femicide happen in the (United States) as well, Anderson said. It’s closer to home than people think.

This year, organizers said they plan to hand out fliers that list information about violence against women and what people can do to combat it. Participants will have the opportunity to share how violence has touched their lives.

It’s a very solemn night, and it’s usually freezing cold, Turner said. Each year it’s a little different, depending on what people come seeking.

Turner said when she looks back over the last 10 years, she believes the amount of discussion about women’s violence has increased but that violence still remains a backdrop in society as a whole.

At least there’s less silence, more strength maybe, she said.

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