Vigil to pay tribute to victims of violence


Candles will be lit once again here Dec. 6 as local residents gather to pay their respects to the victims of the “Montreal Massacre” as well as local women who have been victims of violence and abuse.
“I think it will be quite a powerful event,” said Peggy Loyie, executive director of the Rainy River District Victim Services Program, who is organizing the annual candlelight vigil for the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women along with other community partners.
This year’s ceremony—which all are welcome to attend­—will take place at the Knox United Church starting at 6 p.m.
The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women was first established by Parliament in 1991 following what has become known as “the Montreal Massacre,” when 25-year-old Marc Lepine entered l’Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal on Dec. 6, 1989 armed with a semi-automatic rifle and hunting knife.
Lepine specifically targeted females and ultimately shot 28 people, killing 14 women before taking his own life.
Authorities later uncovered Lepine’s writings, in which he blamed women and feminists for ruining his life.
While vigils across the country pay tribute to the 14 women who were murdered, the day also is used to draw attention to all women who are victims of gender-based violence and abuse.
Here, candles will be lit in memory of the women who died in the Montreal Massacre, all women who have died as a result of gender-based violence, women and children who currently live with violence, as well as local women who have been murdered.
A slide show of these district women has become a customary part of the ceremony.
“We’ve been doing this 11 years and each year we find another name to add,” noted Loyie.
“This shows we have a problem, even in this corner of the world,” she stressed.
This year, 18 names from the district will be acknowledged.
Also planning to speak at the ceremony will be two local sisters whose mother was murdered by their father, who will be sharing the impact that this has had on their lives.
Volunteer brass and woodwind music students from Fort High will open the ceremony with a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”
A local women’s hand drumming group also will play.
Alice Sabourin of Thunder Bay, who travelled throughout the region earlier this year as part of the “Remember Me” project, is also set to speak.
The artwork made as a part of the program also will be on display.
Tea and refreshments will be offered afterwards.