Once a year we get together to remember the atrocity of the massacre at École Polytechnique. We are bound together in our horror and tears. When you see 14 roses being placed side by side it hits with full force just how many lives were ended that tragic day.
It could be hoped that their lives were not taken in vain, that steps would be taken to change the way women’s success and independence are viewed. Yet our current government has declared war on feminism. Status of Women Canada has been subjugated to the interests of the anti-feminist agenda of the right wing. Equality is no longer on the table, advocacy and research likewise have been struck down and if this years ‘Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case’ are an indication, it seems the epitome of a feminist is a corporate male. Daycare is given short shrift through completely inadequate programs such as the Child Tax Benefit the EI program continues to destroyed leaving women particularly vulnerable and the ‘lack of stimulus budget’ still includes a clause to end pay equity.
In the finance ministers weasel words;
“Another issue we intend to address is the litigious, adversarial, and complaints-based approach to pay equity. Since the mid-1980s, Canadian taxpayers have paid out over $4 billion in pay equity settlements. These settlements were the result of pay equity complaints to the Canadian Human Rights Commission. These complaints were filed after agreements on public sector wages had already been reached through collective bargaining,” Flaherty said.
“New complaints continue to be filed, sometimes for the same groups that have already received past pay equity settlements. These represent large potential future costs to taxpayers. This costly and litigious regime of ‘double pay equity’ has been in place for too long. We are introducing legislation to make pay equity an integral part of collective bargaining.”
Were we all receiving the amounts of money Flaherty refers to, one wonders how women’s incomes still tend to be 75% that of men’s.
Appalling levels of violence against women continue to flourish. Every year over 60 women are killed by their partners in what is euphemistically referred to as ‘domestic violence’. Since 1989, 1140 women have lost their lives.
Con supporters likewise have shown their contempt for women by scheduling rallies for today in support of this misogynist government. One supporter said this
Look. Just because one group holds a memorial to promote their feminist ideology, does not mean there aren’t more important issues or issue others believe are important. When did you all get dibs on deciding what was most important?
So remembering FOURTEEN women murdered for the crime of being women is simply a political agenda. Nothing to see here folks. Never did trust anything that bleeds for seven days and doesn’t die. These are the same people that say Lepine was an aberration yet their attitudes are not far removed from his.
Ever year the trolls come out to denigrate this day, to denigrate women and to uphold Lepine as a hero. Their mockery of the lives of these women is but a reflection of the contempt with which women and women’s issues are still treated. We must not allow those who see women, women’s rights, and women’s deaths as unimportant to set the tone for our country.
A Hamilton reporter went to McMaster to ask about the December 6th memorial. While these young adults knew all about Columbine, and other American school shootings none that she mentioned knew anything about École Polytechnique. Interesting that in all the other cases it the shooters who are remembered who are built up in status like modern day Billie the Kid’s. Yet the victims are clearly forgotten.
Let us not forget.
Every year it breaks my heart to watch as 14 roses pile up in remembrance of the horror of December 6, 1989.
In the face of such an atrocity one can only hope that lessons will be learned. Unfortunately, it seems that few have paid attention.
Women are still being killed simply for being women, for asserting their rights, or simply for being there. Women’s shelters are still full and daily women face abuses and the possibility of death.
It is often difficult, especially in light of such tragedies, to make those privileged enough not to have to deal with the daily issues see how ‘small’ things contribute to the larger picture.
When you allow words as weapons (calling women cunts, throw like a girl, etc), when you excuse sexist behaviour, when you smear an MP because she calls someone on an act that would not be allowed in any other workplace, when commercials that talk about how “boys are just built different” no icky girls allowed, when these things passed unremarked the message that girls are somehow ‘less than’ is ingrained.
The women cut down in the act of terror committed that day deserve better.
Lest we forget
Indeed the memory of the fallen is used to raise our collective patriotic ire at anyone who does not support any military action. This has become known colloquially as “not supporting the troops.”
It does not matter if the cause they were fighting is just. If the people they killed were innocent. If the war they fought a sham. Honour must be paid.
Compare this to the all too common occurrence of women being killed by partners or strangers. Too often in both courts of justice and courts of opinion these women’s memories are not honoured but desecrated.