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Here to help: Women's Centre holds vigil for École Polytechnique massacre

Solemn ceremony to remember the lives of 14 women who were killed by lone gunman

The Sudbury Women's Centre held a vigil Thursday evening, in collaboration with the YWCA, in memory of the École Polytechnique massacre that occurred on Dec. 6, 1989.

On that tragic day, 29 years ago, 14 women were killed by a lone gunman who shot 28 people, killing 14 women before turning the gun on himself.

In attendance for Thursday's solemn ceremony were representatives from a number of organizations in Greater Sudbury that are working to end violence against women. Representatives from Voices for Women, Laurentian University Women's Centre, the Ministry of the Attorney General, YWCA, and Greater Sudbury Police Service were all at Thursday's vigil.

Greater Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger also attended, and spoke to the group of roughly a dozen women.

"You're all here because you are passionate people who run our centres and programs that work to keep women in our community safe and free from violence," said Bigger. "It was really important for me to be here today and to remember these women who lost their lives in what was a hate crime. Women in our community need to feel safe and we want to be supportive of building a community and a city that is a safe place for our women."

Flags at Tom Davies Square were flown at half mast on Dec. 6, in remembrance of the tragic events that took place in 1989.

"It's our role on council to support the supporters," said Bigger. "You guys are out on the front lines doing the hard work and we want to do our job to support the work that you're doing."

The Sudbury Women's Centre shares in the duties of hosting this annual vigil with the Sudbury YWCA. Executive directors from both organizations were in attendance and each spoke to the importance of working collaboratively to end violence against women.

"It takes a strong staff, it takes a strong board and when I look around this room I see a room full of allies," said Giulia Carpenter, executive director, Sudbury Women's Centre.

Sudbury YWCA executive director Marlene Gorman took the opportunity to direct comments to Mayor Bigger, speaking to the importance of strong female leaders in the community.

"We need more strong voices, we need to have our voices heard," said Gorman. "I know our city just formed its new council, but I would one day like to see a council that is 50 per cent women, and 50 per cent men. Women need to be in strong leadership roles and to be heard."

While Thursday's vigil carried a sombre tone, Carpenter said that these types of evenings serve as a means to get the word out and to let the community know that resources are available.

"Theres a lot of outlets in our community, this is a chance for us to tell people who may be dealing with violence that we're here," said Carpenter. "We (the Women's Centre) are the hub...come to us, call us and we can direct you. There's always help. Even if you just need a place to feel safe you can always come here."


Matt Durnan

About the Author: Matt Durnan

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