Most University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) students aren't old enough to remember news stories about the massacre of 14 women at Montreal's École Polytechnique 23 years ago, but that doesn't mean violence against women is history, according UFV library technician Lisa Morry.
Morry, who is also the status of women rep for the UFV Faculty and Staff Association is organizing a candlelight vigil this week to mark the anniversary of the tragedy and the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women on behalf of the association.
On Dec. 6, 1989, 25-year-old Marc Lepine walked into an École Polytechnique classroom, separated male and female students and shot all the women, killing six. He then stalked through corridors, the cafeteria and another classroom of the school, targeting women and killing eight more before turning the gun on himself.
"They were murdered because they were women," Morry said. She works at the UFV Chilliwack campus library and has posted a display that tells what happened that day, but she has also incorporated information about forms of violence against women that persist today.
"The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women is not just about the Montreal Massacre," she said. "It's about women afraid to walk alone at night, women physically and sexually assaulted, women stalked and threatened, and women murdered by their spouses."
UFV's vigil will be held at the Chilliwack campus at Canada Education Park in the aboriginal gathering space.
UFV senior advisor on aboriginal affairs Shirley Hardman will give an aboriginal welcome, and members of the award-winning Chilliwack Women's Chorus, directed by Paula Quick from the Chilliwack Academy of Music, will perform Warrior and I Have a Million Nightingales.
UFV faculty members, including Michelle LaFlamme, Virginia Cooke, Marcella LaFe-ver, Martha Dow, along with Abbotsford city councillor Patricia Ross and Chilliwack-Hope MLA Gwen O'Mahony, will speak.
The event will end with a candle lighting and a moment of silence.
For Morry, it's important the event is being held in UFV's new aboriginal gathering space.
"The significance of the aboriginal gathering space reminds me of the Highway of Tears, Vancouver's Downtown Eastside's missing women, many of whom were aboriginal, and the estimated nearly 600 missing or murdered aboriginal women in Canada (according to the Native Women's Association of Canada)."