On Sunday, December 6, Salt Spring islanders are invited to gather online at 5pm in memorial and solidarity of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada, hosted by The Circle Salt Spring Education Society and Islanders Working Against Violence (IWAV). Due to provincial COVID protocols, this year the memorial will be a Zoom event that will be livestreamed on IWAV’s Facebook page.

The day was established in 1991 by the Parliament of Canada to commemorate the 14 young women who were murdered by a gunman on December 6, 1989, at l’École Polytechnique in Montreal as a deliberate act of violence against women.

Nearly 30 years have passed since the École Polytechnique massacre, and gender-based violence continues to be a real and horrific issue in the world, in Canada, and in our own community.

Gender-based violence is one of the most pervasive human rights issues today. According to the United Nations, “A third of all women and girls experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, half of women killed worldwide were killed by their partners or family, and violence perpetrated against women is as common a cause of death and incapacity for those of reproductive age, as cancer, and a greater cause of ill health than road accidents and malaria combined.”

December 6 is a time to reflect on gender-based violence in our society. It’s equally an opportunity to reflect on the light of the candles that will be lit and to join in community to renew our strength, honour the lives of women and hope for more inclusive and peaceful communities.