Lessons from North of the Border

By John Borst, PP Rotary Club of Dryden, ON

In Canada, December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women. Established in 1991 by the Parliament of Canada, this day marks the anniversary of the murders in 1989 of 14 young women at l’ École Polytechnique de Montreal.Violence 400x245

On that day twenty-five-year-old Marc Lépine, armed with a Mini-14 rifle and a hunting knife, shot 28 people, killing 14 women, before committing suicide. It is the deadliest mass shooting in Canadian history.

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The 14 women killed in this brutal act were

20x27 worship_action-violence-women Geneviève Bergeron, 21; 20x27 worship_action-violence-women Maryse Laganière, 25;
20x27 worship_action-violence-women Hélène Colgan, 23; 20x27 worship_action-violence-women Maryse Leclair, 23;
20x27 worship_action-violence-women Nathalie Croteau, 23; 20x27 worship_action-violence-women Anne-Marie Lemay, 22;
20x27 worship_action-violence-women Barbara Daigneault, 22; 20x27 worship_action-violence-women Sonia Pelletier, 23;
20x27 worship_action-violence-women Anne-Marie Edward, 21; 20x27 worship_action-violence-women Michèle Richard, 21;
20x27 worship_action-violence-women Maud Haviernick, 29; 20x27 worship_action-violence-women Anne St-Arneault, 23;
20x27 worship_action-violence-women Barbara Klueznick, 31; 20x27 worship_action-violence-women Annie Turcotte, 21.

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The day is an opportunity to reflect on violence against women in our society and to remember those who have died as a result of gender-based violence. It is a day on which communities and individuals can come together, speak out, and take action to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.

In more recent times this commemoration has evolved to include the memory of the 1,200 Indigenous women were murdered or went missing between 1980 and 2012.

Violence against women and girls is the world’s largest and most persistent human rights violation. It transcends all boundaries.

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It has also become part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence which starts on November 25th, with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Includes November 29th which marks International Women Human Rights Defenders Day and December 6th, Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women. The 16 Days end on December 10th with International Human Rights Day.


Rotary International with its Six Areas of Service is well positioned to support these kinds of commemorations. I would, therefore, challenge Rotary America to consider as part of its peace and anti-violence initiative to consider organising an additional Thirteen Days of National Remembrance between November 25th  and December 10th and excluding November 29th,  one day for each of the major massacres that have occurred in schools, churches, theatres, and restaurants.

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Las Vegas, October 1, 2017 — 58 dead, 546 wounded San Bernardino, December 2, 2015 — 14 dead, 22 wounded
Orlando, June 12, 2016 — 49 dead, 58 wounded Edmond, Oklahoma, August 20, 1986 — 14 dead, 6 wounded
Virginia Tech University, April 16, 2007 — 32 dead, 17 wounded Fort Hood, November 5, 2009 — 13 dead, 30 wounded
Sandy Hook Elementary School, December 14, 2012 — 26 dead, 2 wounded Columbine High School, April 20, 1999 — 13 dead, 21 wounded
Killeen, Texas, October 16, 1991 — 23 dead, 27 wounded Seattle, Washington, February 02, 1983 — 13 dead, 1 wounded
San Ysidro, California, July 18, 1984 — 21 dead, 19 wounded Aurora, Colorado, July 20, 2012, —  12 dead, 70 wounded
University of Texas-Austin, Aug. 1, 1966 — 15 dead, 31 wounded

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