Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Large crowd gathers at StFX to mark National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

December 6th, 2016
Antigonish Women's Resource Centre executive director Lucille Harper delivers the keynote address at the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

A stand of non-tolerance towards gender-based violence must be our collective call to action, keynote speaker Lucille Harper, executive director of the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre, told the large crowd gathered at StFX’s Schwartz Auditorium for the December 6th National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women ceremony.

“It requires each of us to make it visible. We need to name it when we see it. That’s my call to action” Ms. Harper said at the ceremony, a community/campus partnership sponsored by the Office of the Human Rights and Equity Advisor, StFX, in collaboration with the Naomi Society, Antigonish Women’s Resource Center, and StFX Students’ Union.

December 6th, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada, was established in 1991 by the Parliament of Canada. It marks the anniversary of the murders in 1989 of 14 young women at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal.

As well as commemorating the 14 young women, December 6 represents an opportunity for Canadians to reflect on the phenomenon of violence against women in society, and to consider concrete actions to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.

Ceremony co-emcees, fourth year student Bryanna O'Donnell, and RCMP Constable Deepak Prasad

“Always on this day, it’s so heartwarming to see people who care about this issue,” Ms. Harper said in her remarks.

Ms. Harper commended StFX for introducing its Sexual Violence Policy and for taking a stand of non-tolerance of sexual and gender-based violence.

We must all take a collective stand, she said. “This means we have to make sexual violence visible, and that is not easy.”

Sexualized violence is pervasive in society and is often normalized or minimized, she said, as she gave numerous examples. “This is the sea we’re swimming in. I think we have to see it and make it visible.”

We must create spaces for talking about sexualized violence, we must be brave enough to really hear each other, and we must create violence-free zones, she said. “And then we must grow those violence-free zones until they cover our world.”

REFLECT, REMEMBER, EDUCATE

December 6th represents an opportunity to reflect and remember, fourth year student Bryanna O’Donnell, who acted as the event’s co-emcee with RCMP Constable Deepak Prasad, told the crowd.

It’s important to remember past events, and it’s important to educate and create a catalyst for change, she said.

“It’s important to educate and to empower people to stand up against gender-based violence,” co-emcee Cst. Prasad said.

“Today, take some time to think about what you will do, your call to action,” he encouraged all in attendance.

Dean of Science Dr. Petra Hauf said we are here today to honour and to remember the women murdered in 1989.

“Today we are also here to remind us that it is up to us, every single one of us, to ensure a safe environment exists.”

Dr. Hauf said that Engineers Canada has set a 30 by 30 goal, a commitment to raising the percentage of newly licensed engineers that are women to 30 per cent by the year 2030.

StFX, she said, has already reached that goal this year, as 32 per cent of its engineering students are female.

STUDENTS HONOURED

Dr. Hauf also presented two awards during the ceremony.

Megan Fudge (left) receives the Memorial Scholarship for Women in Engineering from Dean of Science Dr. Petra Hauf

Jennifer MacPherson (left) receives the General Motors of Canada Ltd. Women in Science Award from Dean of Science Dr. Petra Hauf

First year student Megan Fudge received the Memorial Scholarship for Women in Engineering, and Jennifer MacPherson was the recipient of the General Motors of Canada Ltd. Women in Science Award.

During the ceremony, StFX student Jasmine Cormier read a poem, “Still I Rise,” by Maya Angelou.

StFX history professor Dr. Nancy Forestell introduced Ms. Harper.

 

 

 

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