Representatives from Catholic Family Services and Interval House were present at Discovery Co-op's Marketplace Cafe Tuesday, Dec. 6 in recognition of National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
Ann McArthur, executive director of Battlefords Interval House, and Erin Woytiuk, family violence outreach co-ordinator at Catholic Family Services, took turns at the podium in a speech recognizing the 14 women who were killed in Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique massacre in 1989 as well as highlighting steps that need to be taken to end gender-based violence, including having conversations with young people.
Dec. 6, the anniversary of the shooting, was established in 1991 by the Parliament of Canada as a national day to commemorate the women who were killed at Ecole Polytechnique, but also to recognize all women who have been victims of gender-based violence.
Now the 27th anniversary of the massacre, Woytiuk discussed why honouring the victims and speaking out about gender-based violence is still important today, saying, "We live in a society where violence against women is still very prevalent. In the Battlefords we have a high rate of crime and a lot of violence against women and interpersonal violence against women and children, so today we take the time to pause and remember the women who were killed in Montreal in 1989 and to reflect on what is still happening today."
As for how society can work toward ending the pervasiveness of gender-based violence Woytiuk advocates speaking to children to normalize the conversation and open a dialogue about violence against women and girls, "We can have an open dialogue with our children about respecting each other and start with young children and teach in schools to respect one another."
For people who have been personally affected by violence, Woytiuk highlighted several services available, including Catholic Family Service's Family Violence Outreach program and Children Exposed to Violence program, both of which provide counselling, as well as Victim Services, which is run out of the RCMP detachment, and Interval House, which provides emergency housing to women and children in need.
At the end of the program workers from Interval House distributed an informational sheet directing anyone interested in learning more about the campaign to end violence against women at www.rosecampaign.ca.