Remembering those women lost
By Matt Pearson
White ribbons and 14 candles are a stark reminder of a cold December night in 1989 when Canadians learned of a viscous attack against their daughters, sisters and friends.
The campus-wide white ribbon campaign from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4 is a chance for men to stand up in opposition of male violence against women and is also coordinated around the time of the Montreal Massacre anniversary.
"The white ribbon campaign is a call to men everywhere to stand up for the right of women to live free of violence and harassment," said Pete Hill, University Students' Council VP-campus issues.
Viet Nguyen, coordinator of this year's campaign, said its main goal is to raise awareness of violence against women. "The white ribbon campaign coincides with the Montreal Massacre as a reminder of where we came from," Nguyen said.
Both Hill and Nguyen said understanding what the ribbon represents is much more important than just wearing one.
The Women's Issues Network is also commemorating the Montreal Massacre. "While we remember, we commemorate the women who lose their lives on a daily basis," said WIN coordinator Claudia Philipsz.
She said people must realize the Montreal Massacre was representative of violence against women, rather than an isolated incident. The role of WIN in this year's campaign is to spark more awareness of both the issue and their group on campus.
Beginning at 7 a.m., CHRW-FM 94.7 will devote the day to women's voices, said programme director Tom Everett. He added this is the third year Western's radio station has celebrated the anniversary. The day will honour the women who lost their lives in Montreal, but it will also provide a forum for discussion and solution, he said.
Everett explained a number of guests will appear on air at different times throughout the day, including Marion Boyd, New Democratic Party Member of Provincial Parliament for London Centre and Diane Cunningham, minister of intergovernmental affairs, who is responsible for women's issues.
The campus-wide commemorations will culminate on Sunday at the annual Ritual of Re-Membering in the main auditorium of Brescia College at 12 p.m..
Patricia McLean, coordinator of a women's group called THE CIRCLE, described the event as an opportunity for women to put themselves back together. She said the Montreal Massacre had a profound effect on women as it fragmented them and this ritual allows them to "Re-Member."
"It tries to bring us back to some kind of strength and peace," she said.
The ritual involves drumming as well as the reading of the names of the 14 women who were killed, along with former Western engineering student Linda Shaw, who was murdered in 1990. Speaker Kelly Gutard, a Western graduate and former WIN coordinator, will talk of hope for the future, while the Celebration Dance Troupe, composed of young, teen women will symbolize the coming together of women.
"The event touched the Canadian psyche," McLean said, adding it brought Canadians together. She said it gave women the opportunity to say out loud that violence against women in society is a terrible problem and women could pull together to do something about it.