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Vigil to remember victims of violence

A candlelight vigil is being planned for Thursday, Dec. 6 at UFV to remember the anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre in Montreal — and more.

The event commemorates the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, starting at 7 p.m. in the Aboriginal gathering space on the UFV Chilliwack campus at Canada Education Park.

Situating the event in the Aboriginal gathering space gives added meaning to the 1989 tragedy, which took place before many UFV students were born.

“I work in the UFV Chilliwack campus library, where we have posted a display that tells what happened at École Polytechnique in 1989, explains varying forms of violence against women and offers library resources about violence against women,” said event organizer Lisa Morry, who is status of women rep for the UFV Faculty and Staff Association and a UFV library technician.

“The significance of the Aboriginal Gathering Space reminds me of the Highway of Tears, Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside’s missing women, many of whom were aboriginal, and the estimated nearly 600 missing or murdered aboriginal women in Canada (according to the Native Women’s Association of Canada http://www.nwac.ca/home).”

Shirley Hardman, UFV’s senior advisor on Aboriginal affairs, will give an Aboriginal welcome. Then members of the award-winning Chilliwack Women’s Chorus, directed by Paula Quick from the Chilliwack Academy of Music, will perform Warrior and I Have a Million Nightingales. UFV faculty members, including Dr. Michelle LaFlamme, Dr. Virginia Cooke, Dr. Marcella LaFever, Dr. Martha Dow, along with Abbotsford councillor Patricia Ross and Chilliwack-Hope MLA Gwen O’Mahony, will speak.

They’ll close the event with a candle-lighting and a moment of silence.

On Dec. 6, 1989, 14 students were shot and killed at École Polytechnique, the engineering school at the University of Montreal. They were murdered because they were women.

Ask young UFV students about the Montreal Massacre and few may know the details since 1989 was 23 years ago — long enough that many UFV students were not yet even born, notes Morry.

“The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women is not just about the Montreal Massacre,” she adds. “It’s about the 582 Aboriginal women that the Native Women’s Association of Canada says were missing or murdered as of 2010.

“It’s about the Highway of Tears, where women, including Nicole Hoar, Tamara Chipman and Aielah Saric Auger, have disappeared during the past 40 years. It’s about the Shafia sisters Zainab, Sahar and Geeti and their father’s first wife Rona Ambrose Mohammad, whose bodies were found in a submerged car in the Kingston Locks, and whose brother, mother and father were convicted of their murders.

“It’s about Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Georgina Papin, Marnie Frey and Brenda Wolfe, the six women murdered on a Port Coquitlam pig farm, and all the other women, missing from the Downtown Eastside, including Dawn Crey from Chilliwack.

“It’s about women afraid to walk alone at night, women physically and sexually assaulted, women stalked and threatened, and women murdered by their spouses.”

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