Vigil honours victims of violence

Local residents turned out yesterday evening to honour the victims of the Montreal Massacre with a candlelight vigil in front of the Fort Frances Courthouse—and to remember all women who are victims of violence.
It was 16 years ago yesterday when 14 women were shot to death at l’Ecole Polytechnique.
“Not only do we remember the women of Montreal, but we also remember those of this community whose lives were ended in violence,” said Peggy Loyie of the United Native Friendship Centre here.
“All of these women were valued family members and friends. All had many gifts to share,” she remarked. “Sadly, their lives ended all too soon.
“Their memory will be forever etched in our minds and in our hearts,” she continued.
The emotional ceremony included the reading out of the names of four local women who died as a result of violence. They were Patrina Whitecrow, Nicole Veillieux, Deanna Daw, and Melani Sutton.
The names of the 14 women who died in Montreal also were read aloud.
The event, which drew about a dozen people, also was an opportunity to remember the more than 500 aboriginal women who have gone missing from communities across Canada over the last 20 years.
“Aboriginal women continued to be targets of hatred and violence based on their gender and race,” Loyie said. “They continue to be objectified, disrespected, dishonoured, and killed and ignored, often with impunity.
“Yet government, media, and Canadian society remain silent,” she charged.
The Native Women’s Association of Canada has been gathering the names and stories of these missing aboriginal women, and has launched the “Sisters in Spirit Campaign” to raise public awareness about the issue.
Last night’s ceremony ended with the lighting of four candles—one in memory of the 14 young women of l’Ecole Polytechnique, one “in memory of those whose lives are lived or have been lived under the shroud of fear and violence,” said Loyie, one for all the missing aboriginal women and their families, and one for the women of this community whose lives have ended as a result of violence.
Status of Women Canada, a federal government agency, says while violence against anyone is unacceptable, violence against women “is a complex issue that is closely linked to inequalities and power imbalances in society.”
“It seriously affects the ability of women to achieve equality.
“Actually, it is not only the incidence of violence against women that limits women’s lives, but the fear of violence that affects their daily existence, how they dress, where they go, with whom they associate, their mode of transportation, etc.,” the agency’s website reads.
“The focus on violence against women is not meant to diminish the seriousness of violence against men,” it continues.
“However, violence against women, particularly intimate partner violence and sexual assaults, represents a unique aspect of the wider social problem of violence, and requires specific attention and solutions.”
About 51 percent of Canadian women have been victims of at least one act of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.
In 2000, 77 percent of all female victims were victimized by someone they knew.
Of those, 37 were victimized by a close friend or acquaintance, 29 percent by a current or past partner, and 11 percent by other family members, including parents.
About 19 percent were victimized by a stranger.
Of all victims of crimes against the person in 2000, females made up 86 percent of victims of sexual assaults, 78 percent of criminals harassment, and 67 percent of hostage-taking or abduction.

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