Toronto – December 4, 2014 – On December 6, 1989, Marc Lépine walked into École Polytechnique in Montreal and proceeded to shoot and murder 14 women before turning the gun on himself. Most of the female victims were engineering students. While it has been 25 years since this tragedy occurred, the issues of gender-related violence continue to plague our society in many ways.
For example, 26-year-old Loretta Saunders, an Inuit student at St. Mary’s University in Halifax, was recently found dead beside the Trans-Canada Highway in New Brunswick. Loretta was writing her undergraduate thesis on missing and murdered Aboriginal women at the time of her murder. According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), at least 1,200 Aboriginal women in Canada have been murdered or gone missing in the past three decades.
The tragic reality is that violence against women continues to be prevalent across Canada. Indeed, a recent report by the Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters and Transition Houses found that, on any given day, 4,178 women and 2,490 children in Canada seek help from emergency shelters in order to escape domestic and gender-related violence.
To help address this problem, UFCW Canada supports a number of initiatives aimed at ending violence against women. Our union provides various workplace training initiatives to combat gender-based harassment and violence at work, as well as strong collective agreement language to ensure that gender equality is present on the job.
UFCW Canada Local 247, as well as the UFCW Canada National Office are participants in the Shoe Memorial to commemorate victims of gender-based violence, while UFCW Canada Local 1869 has supported the Sunrise Memorial Event to condemn violence against women. UFCW Canada and our Local Unions have also been actively involved in the development of a National Action Plan on Violence against Women. Right now, UFCW Canada is also a participant in the #NOTokay social media initiative. The campaign calls on individuals to take a stand on violence against women by sharing their voices in response to any tweets, posts, videos, images or clips that objectify, belittle or attack women in society.
Our union recognizes that achieving change on this issue means embracing our differences and standing up for gender-based equality. This December 6, I encourage you to renew your commitment to ending violence against women by becoming an agent of change in your community and your workplace. Together, we can take action against gender-based violence in Canada.
Paul R. Meinema