Day​ ​of​ ​Remembrance​ ​and​ ​Action​ ​on​ ​Violence​ ​Against​ ​Women,​ ​2017

Tierney Watkinson | News Director

(Photo by Tierney Watkinson)

Tierney​ ​Watkinson | News Director

 

On​ ​November​ ​29,​ ​IWAU​ ​2017​ ​hosted​ ​UNBC’s​ ​Day​ ​of​ ​Remembrance​ ​and​ ​Action​ ​on​ ​Violence​ ​Against​ ​Women.

“Join​ ​us​ ​to​ ​remember​ ​and​ ​to​ ​contemplate​ ​a​ ​world​ ​where​ ​women​ ​can​ ​pursue​ ​their​ ​dreams​ ​without​ ​fear​ ​of​ ​violence,”​ ​the​ ​IWAU (Inspiring​ ​Women​ ​Among​ ​Us)​ ​itinerary​ ​read.

The​ ​ceremony​ ​began​ ​at​ ​10:00am,​ ​when​ ​Hira​ ​Rashid​ ​took​ ​to​ ​the​ ​podium​ ​to​ ​introduce​ ​and​ ​MC​ ​the​ ​event,​ ​which​ ​took​ ​place​ ​in the​ ​Wintergarden.​ ​Standing​ ​behind​ ​a​ ​podium​ ​decorated​ ​with​ ​a​ ​selection​ ​of​ ​artwork​ ​and​ ​a​ ​cluster​ ​of​ ​14​ ​candles,​ ​Elder​ ​in Residence​, ​Darlene​ ​McIntosh,​ ​officially​ ​welcomed​ ​the​ ​attendees​ ​to​ ​traditional​ ​territory. 

Fourteen​ ​women​ ​were​ ​killed​ ​during​ ​the​ ​École​ ​Polytechnique​ ​Massacre,​ ​also​ ​remembered​ ​as​ ​the​ ​Montreal​ ​Massacre,​ ​in​ ​1989. IWAU​ ​volunteers​ ​handed​ ​out​ ​purple​ ​and​ ​white​ ​ribbons​ ​before​ ​the​ ​commencement​ ​of​ ​the​ ​ceremony.​ ​White,​ ​representing​ ​the White​ ​Ribbon​ ​group,​ ​is​ ​symbolic​ ​of​ ​men​ ​and​ ​boys​ ​working​ ​to​ ​eradicate​ ​violence​ ​against​ ​women.​ ​Purple​ ​serves​ ​to​ ​symbolize the​ ​pain​ ​of​ ​women​ ​who​ ​suffered​ ​or​ ​still​ ​suffer,​ ​and​ ​to​ ​remember​ ​them,​ ​through​ ​the​ ​Purple​ ​Ribbon​ ​Campaign.

UNBC​ ​President​, ​Daniel​ ​Weeks,​ ​spoke​ ​about​ ​how​ ​women​ ​are​ ​eleven​ ​times​ ​more​ ​likely​ ​to​ ​be​ ​the​ ​victims​ ​of​ ​violence,​ ​and​ ​that young​ ​women​ ​are​ ​twice​ ​as​ ​likely​ ​to​ ​experience​ ​such​ ​a​ ​thing​ ​as​ ​young​ ​men.​ ​He​ ​reminded​ ​us​ ​of​ ​UNBC’s​ ​new​ ​Sexual​ ​Violence and​ ​Misconduct​ ​Policy,​ ​saying​ ​that​ ​UNBC’s​ ​goal​ ​is​ ​a​ ​safer,​ ​healthier​ ​campus​ ​for​ ​all.​ ​He​ ​noted​ ​the​ ​importance​ ​of​ ​speaking openly​ ​about​ ​issues​ ​of​ ​violence​ ​and,​ ​in​ ​regards​ ​to​ ​the​ ​lives​ ​lost​ ​to​ ​violent​ ​acts,​ ​he​ ​closed:​ ​“Let’s​ ​never​ ​forget.”

Prince​ ​George​ ​Mayor,​ ​Lynn​ ​Hall,​ ​urged​ ​those​ ​in​ ​attendance​ ​to​ ​read​ ​the​ ​paper​ ​messages​ ​that​ ​were​ ​attached​ ​to​ ​the​ ​ribbons handed​ ​out,​ ​especially​ ​the​ ​men,​ ​and​ ​to​ ​think​ ​of​ ​the​ ​contributions​ ​of​ ​women​ ​to​ ​society​ ​not​ ​just​ ​at​ ​memorials,​ ​but​ ​every​ ​day.​ ​“It​ ​is a​ ​family​ ​that​ ​we​ ​need​ ​to​ ​nurture,”​ ​he​ ​said,​ ​“and​ ​I​ ​am​ ​proud​ ​to​ ​say​ ​that​ ​we​ ​are​ ​on​ ​that​ ​journey.”

Britt​ ​Meierhofer,​ ​perhaps​ ​better​ ​known​ ​as​ ​Britt​ ​AM,​ ​noted​ ​that​ ​there​ ​were​ ​more​ ​men​ ​in​ ​the​ ​crowd​ ​this​ ​year​ ​than​ ​in​ ​previous years​ ​when​ ​she​ ​took​ ​to​ ​the​ ​stage.​ ​She​ ​read​ ​two​ ​songs​ ​she​ ​had​ ​written,​ ​performing​ ​them​ ​for​ ​the​ ​first​ ​time​ ​as​ ​spoken​ ​word pieces. 

Kasandra​ ​Johnny-Turbide,​ ​NUGSS​ ​Women’s​ ​Representative,​ ​spoke​ ​about​ ​toxic​ ​masculinity​ ​and​ ​the​ ​idea​ ​of​ ​so-called “irrational”​ ​feminists.​ ​She​ ​berated​ ​our​ ​use​ ​of​ ​passive​ ​language​ ​as​ ​a​ ​society​ ​when​ ​it​ ​comes​ ​to​ ​condemning​ ​the​ ​committer​ ​of violence;​ ​we​ ​often​ ​remove​ ​the​ ​perpetrator​ ​from​ ​direct​ ​blame​ ​when​ ​we​ ​talk​ ​about​ ​the​ ​crime.​ ​We​ ​make​ ​it​ ​normal.​ ​“This​ ​clearly isn’t​ ​a​ ​women’s​ ​issue.​ ​This​ ​is​ ​also​ ​a​ ​men’s​ ​issue.​ ​A​ ​human​ ​issue,”​ ​she​ ​stated.​ ​She​ ​also​ ​urged​ ​us​ ​to​ ​respect​ ​trans​ ​individuals and​ ​their​ ​use​ ​of​ ​preferred​ ​pronouns.​ ​In​ ​defense​ ​of​ ​our​ ​fellow​ ​humans,​ ​she​ ​asked​ ​that​ ​we​ ​all​ ​do​ ​a​ ​simple​ ​thing:​ ​“Please.​ ​Speak up.” 

Hira​ ​Rashid​ ​took​ ​a​ ​moment​ ​to​ ​remark​ ​that​ ​“we​ ​are​ ​so​ ​quick​ ​to​ ​teach​ ​our​ ​daughters​ ​how​ ​to​ ​protect​ ​themselves,”​ ​and​ ​yet​ ​noted that​ ​we​ ​don’t​ ​take​ ​the​ ​same​ ​time​ ​to​ ​talk​ ​to​ ​our​ ​sons.

She​ ​then​ ​introduced​ ​Dr.​ ​Si​ ​Transken,​ ​Associate​ ​Professor​ ​of​ ​Social​ ​Work.​ ​Dr.​ ​Transken​ ​said​ ​that​ ​the​ ​event​ ​was​ ​both grotesque​ ​to​ ​her​ ​and​ ​something​ ​that​ ​made​ ​her​ ​glad.​ ​Glad,​ ​because​ ​we​ ​take​ ​the​ ​time​ ​to​ ​address​ ​these​ ​issues;​ ​grotesque, because​ ​these​ ​issues​ ​still​ ​exist​ ​and​ ​we​ ​need​ ​such​ ​events​ ​to​ ​address​ ​them​ ​properly.​ ​She​ ​spoke​ ​of​ ​how​ ​we,​ ​namely​ ​women, tend​ ​to​ ​stay​ ​at​ ​jobs​ ​and​ ​in​ ​relationships​ ​where​ ​we​ ​are​ ​abused​ ​because​ ​we​ ​feel​ ​there​ ​is​ ​nowhere​ ​else​ ​to​ ​go.​

​She​ ​called​ ​out​ ​the fact​ ​that​ ​the​ ​US​ ​President​ ​is​ ​in​ ​office​ ​despite​ ​13​ ​women​ ​being​ ​reportedly​ ​abused​ ​by​ ​him.​ ​Dr.​ ​Transken​ ​named​ ​multiple​ ​men​ ​in positions​ ​of​ ​power,​ ​who​ ​were​ ​and​ ​even​ ​remain​ ​in​ ​these​ ​positions​ ​despite​ ​allegations​ ​against​ ​them.​ ​Bill​ ​O’Reilly.​ ​Matt​ ​Lauer.​ ​A fire​ ​chief​ ​in​ ​Fort​ ​St.​ ​James.​ ​She​ ​noted​ ​that​ ​while​ ​the​ ​women​ ​who​ ​report​ ​sexual​ ​assault​ ​and​ ​see​ ​the​ ​perpetrator​ ​punished​ ​may feel​ ​affirmed,​ ​they​ ​do​ ​not​ ​necessarily​ ​feel​ ​like​ ​winners. Dr.​ ​Transken​ ​shared​ ​her​ ​own​ ​personal​ ​experience​ ​with​ ​sexual​ ​abuse​ ​at​ ​the​ ​hands​ ​of​ ​her​ ​father.​ ​She​ ​told​ ​the​ ​audience​ ​that​ ​she changed​ ​her​ ​name​ ​at​ ​20,​ ​cut​ ​contact​ ​with​ ​her​ ​family.​ ​Her​ ​father​ ​was​ ​finally​ ​jailed​ ​when​ ​she​ ​was​ ​55. She​ ​said​ ​that​ ​today,​ ​she​ ​gets​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​joy​ ​from​ ​the​ ​students​ ​she​ ​teaches,​ ​and​ ​especially​ ​from​ ​her​ ​students​ ​who​ ​research​ ​topics related​ ​to​ ​abuse​ ​in​ ​order​ ​to​ ​spur​ ​change.

English​ ​Professor​ ​Rob​ ​Budde​ ​followed​ ​Dr.​ ​Transken​ ​to​ ​the​ ​podium.​ ​He​ ​spoke​ ​about​ ​FAM,​ ​Fellows​ ​Addressing​ ​Masculinity.​ ​He explained​ ​that​ ​FAM​ ​encourages​ ​men​ ​to​ ​imagine​ ​ways​ ​in​ ​which​ ​they​ ​can​ ​move​ ​through​ ​the​ ​world​ ​differently​ ​and​ ​to​ ​examine “how​ ​to​ ​undo​ ​toxic​ ​masculinity,​ ​to​ ​create​ ​a​ ​new​ ​positive​ ​masculinity.” “We​ ​are​ ​not​ ​hardwired​ ​not​ ​to​ ​feel,”​ ​Budde​ ​stated.​ ​“It​ ​is​ ​taught.”

Sarah​ ​Boyd,​ ​the​ ​Executive​ ​Director​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Northern​ ​Women’s​ ​Centre,​ ​read​ ​excerpts​ ​from​ ​the​ ​​Montreal Gazette ​that​ ​described the​ ​victims​ ​of​ ​the​ ​December​ ​6,​ ​1989​ ​Massacre.​ ​She​ ​read​ ​the​ ​names​ ​of​ ​the​ ​victims​ ​and​ ​described​ ​who​ ​they​ ​were​ ​as​ ​people. Boyd​ ​also​ ​spoke​ ​about​ ​a​ ​survivor​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Massacre,​ ​and​ ​how​ ​December​ ​6​ ​came​ ​to​ ​represent​ ​more​ ​than​ ​just​ ​the​ ​anniversary​ ​of the​ ​murders​ ​to​ ​her:​ ​this​ ​survivor’s​ ​child​ ​learned​ ​to​ ​walk​ ​on​ ​December​ ​6th,​ ​and​ ​she​ ​found​ ​out​ ​she​ ​was​ ​pregnant​ ​with​ ​her​ ​third child​ ​on​ ​a​ ​December​ ​6th​ ​exactly​ ​ten​ ​years​ ​later.​ ​Natalie​ ​Provost,​ ​the​ ​survivor,​ ​called​ ​it​ ​“A​ ​victory​ ​of​ ​life.”

UNBC​ ​student​ ​Fizza​ ​Rashid​ ​then​ ​sang​ ​“Warrior,”​ ​a​ ​song​ ​by​ ​Demi​ ​Lovato.​ ​Her​ ​beautiful​ ​voice​ ​echoed​ ​through​ ​the Wintergarden​ ​and​ ​tempted​ ​passers-by​ ​stop​ ​to​ ​listen.​ ​“I’m​ ​a​ ​warrior​ ​/​ ​I’m​ ​stronger​ ​than​ ​I’ve​ ​ever​ ​been…I’m​ ​a​ ​warrior​ ​/​ ​And​ ​you can​ ​never​ ​hurt​ ​me​ ​again,”​ ​she​ ​sang.

Krystal​ ​Vandenberg,​ ​President​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Northern​ ​Pride​ ​Centre​ ​and​ ​the​ ​host​ ​of​ ​the​ ​2017​ ​IWAU​ ​Trans​ ​Day​ ​of​ ​Remembrance, began​ ​their​ ​own​ ​speech​ ​by​ ​saying​ ​they were​ ​surprised​ ​that​ ​no​ ​one​ ​had​ ​defaced​ ​the​ ​names​ ​of​ ​those​ ​murdered​ ​for​ ​being transgender,​ ​which​ ​had​ ​been​ ​left​ ​on​ ​chalkboards​ ​in​ ​the​ ​hall.​ ​This​ ​was​ ​testament,​ they​ ​said,​ ​to​ ​positively​ ​changing​ ​times.​ ​Trans women​ ​of​ ​colour​ ​are​ ​most​ ​likely​ ​to​ ​face​ ​violence​ ​and​ ​homicide,​ ​Vandenberg​ ​reminded​ ​us.​ ​They​ ​also​ ​shared​ ​their​ ​own​ ​story​ ​of abuse:​ ​a​ ​male​ ​roommate​ ​threatened​ ​to​ ​assault​ ​and​ ​graphically​ ​murder​ them.​ ​When​ ​the​ ​police​ ​did​ ​nothing​ ​more​ ​than​ ​put​ ​him​ ​in jail​ ​overnight,​ ​they​ ​moved​ ​out.​ ​They​ ​dealt​ ​with​ ​the​ ​fear​ ​themselves.

The​ ​Memorial​ ​Ceremony​ ​ended​ ​with​ ​the​ ​Khast’an​ ​Drummers,​ ​who​ ​were​ ​striking​ ​in​ ​red​ ​and​ ​black.​ ​They​ ​performed​ ​multiple songs,​ ​among​ ​them​ ​the​ ​“Women’s​ ​Warrior​ ​Song,”​ ​and​ ​“Strong​ ​Women’s​ ​Song.”​ ​They​ ​sang​ ​about​ ​water​ ​and​ ​its​ ​relation​ ​to women,​​ ​as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​about​ ​men​ ​as​ ​a​ ​part​ ​of​ ​women’s​ ​lives.​ ​Their​ ​final​ ​song,​ ​“Snake​ ​Medicine,”​ ​was​ ​a​ ​healing​ ​song​ ​and​ ​the Drummers​ ​encouraged​ ​everyone​ ​to​ ​get​ ​up​ ​and​ ​dance.​ ​One​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Drummers​ ​introduced​ ​the​ ​song​ ​saying​ ​that​ ​we​ ​cannot​ ​let grief​ ​be​ ​all​ ​we​ ​have.​ ​“Remember​ ​happy,”​ ​she​ ​said.​ ​Brenda​ ​Wilson,​ ​a​n information collection coordinator for​ ​The​ ​Highway​ ​of​ ​Tears​ ​initiative,​ ​took​ ​a moment​ ​to​ ​speak​ ​little​ ​about​ ​her​ ​own​ ​sister’s​ ​case,​ ​which​ ​is​ ​25​ ​years​ ​old.

Sarah​ ​Boyd​ ​gave​ ​each​ ​presenter​ ​a​ ​single​ ​red​ ​rose.

In​ ​1990,​ ​according​ ​to​ ​Statistics​ ​Canada,​ ​only​ ​14%​ ​of​ ​women​ ​aged​ ​25​ ​to​ ​54​ ​had​ ​a​ ​university​ ​degree.​ ​By​ ​2015,​ ​that​ ​percentage had​ ​more​ ​than​ ​doubled.​ ​Today,​ ​across​ ​Canada,​ ​the​ ​majority​ ​of​ ​recent​ ​post-secondary​ ​graduates​ ​are​ ​women.

Let​ ​us​ ​not​ ​forget​ ​the​ ​tragic​ ​loss​ ​of​ ​life​ ​at​ ​that​ ​university​ ​in​ ​1989.​ ​And​ ​let​ ​us​ ​not​ ​forget​ ​nor​ ​diminish​ ​the​ ​progress​ ​and​ ​the victories​ ​of​ ​life​ ​we​ ​have​ ​seen​ ​and​ ​initiated​ ​since​ ​then.
More​ ​information​ ​about​ ​the​ ​ribbons​ ​and​ ​what​ ​they​ ​represent​ ​can​ ​be​ ​found​ ​at​ ​​www.whiteribbon.ca​​ ​or​ ​​www.womensheart.org​.

The​ ​Women’s​ ​Centre​ ​on​ ​campus​ ​is​ ​a​ ​24​ ​hour​ ​safe​ ​space​ ​for​ ​women,​ ​the​ ​only​ ​of​ ​its​ ​kind​ ​in​ ​Prince​ ​George.

The​ ​National​ ​Day​ ​of​ ​Remembrance​ ​and​ ​Action​ ​on​ ​Violence​ ​Against​ ​Women​ ​takes​ ​place​ ​on​ ​December​ ​6.

Follow​ ​IWAU​ ​2017​ ​on​ ​Facebook​ ​or​ ​Twitter​ ​to​ ​keep​ ​updated​ ​on​ ​events​ ​coming​ ​up​ ​in​ ​the​ ​new​ ​year.