As soon as the night sky appeared, candles were lit up in Victoria Park to remember women who experienced violence.
The Women’s Events Committee held a candlelit vigil for the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. The annual event falls on December 6, the day 14 women were killed at École Polytechnique de Montreal in 1989.
After speaking to people involved with the event, whether they were a speaker or a guest, you could tell the group was thankful for those who came to show their support during the chilly night.
There was barely a dry eye during the ceremony for many reasons.
Groups of women more likely to experience violence, such as Indigenous women and girls, two-spirit, trans women, trans women of colour, women in poverty, women with disabilities, and sex workers, were recognized.
Sam Whiteye tearfully spoke about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada. The names of the women across Ontario who were murdered in 2018 were read and recognized. As more names were listed, the more choked up the speakers were. People in the crowd went up to the microphone to name their loved ones lost to violence.
Every time I hear about anything related to gender-based violence, including the Montreal Massacre, similar thoughts flow through my mind.
I think about women I know who experienced violence, and situations I’ve been in where I’ve felt unsafe. I wonder how and why gender-based violence happens in the first place, and why conversations about it are important to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
At the end of the ceremony, I wondered when violence against women will end.
Below are some photos from the ceremony in Victoria Park.