On December 6, CUPE Ontario members across the province mark the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. This day was established after the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre in Montréal, where 14 women were targeted and killed by a lone gunman. One of those women was Maryse Laganière, a CUPE member and an employee at the school.
Sadly, gender-based violence is still a reality in our workplaces and communities. In September, anonymous threats of violence were made against women and feminists at the University of Toronto, including our CUPE sisters from local 3902. Our members reacted quickly to the threats, mobilized and organized a mass rally in Toronto. Hundreds of union members, women and male allies marched to send a clear and strong message to challenge the persistent misogyny that exists in our society.
While the event was powerful, gaining main stream media exposure on local and national newscasts, it should not take a tragedy or threats of mass violence to take action against gendered violence. Violence against women happens every day and remains a significant barrier to women’s equality, human rights and freedoms. It affects women’s social and economic equality, physical and mental health, well-being and economic security.
A recent study, conducted by the Canadian Labour Congress revealed the disturbing truth about how domestic violence impacts women in Canada. Half of Canadian women will experience at least one incident of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. A third of the survey’s respondents reported experiencing domestic violence. Of those, more than half stated the violence followed them to work.
Despite these facts, violence against women was not addressed by Stephen Harper’s Conservative government over the past ten years. Instead, Harper defunded nearly every federal women’s organization, eliminated the long-gun registry, and refused to hold a federal inquiry into over 1,200 missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls.
New Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau has promised his Liberal party is committed to addressing the issue of violence against women, including launching a national public inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women. CUPE Ontario is committed to holding Trudeau to his promises and will fight any Liberal austerity measures that sacrifice women’s equality and well-being for corporate profits.
A majority of CUPE Ontario’s membership are women. Whether it’s bargaining anti-harassment language in our collective agreements or organizing political action campaigns, our over 250,000 CUPE Ontario sisters and brothers have a proud history of standing together to end all forms of violence against women and girls.
Today, we not only mourn and remember those who lost their lives because of gender-based violence, we also commit to redouble our efforts to organize for real change and an end to violence against women.
We will never forget…
Geneviève Bergeron was 21 years old
Hélène Colgan was 23 years old
Nathalie Croteau was 23 years old
Barbara Daigneault was 22 years old
Anne‐Marie Edward was 21 years old
Maud Haviernick was 29 years old
Barbara Maria Klucznik was 31 years old
Maryse Leclair was 23 years old
Annie St‐Arneault was 23 years old
Michèle Richard was 21 years old
Maryse Laganière, CUPE member, was 25 years old
Anne‐Marie Lemay was 22 years old
Annie Turcotte was 21 years old
Sonia Pelletier was 23 years old