Every December 6, CUPE Ontario members recognize the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the tragic events that took place at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal, where 14 women were targeted and killed by a gunman. One of those women, Maryse Laganière, was a CUPE member employed at the school. It is vital to note that this was an attack not only on individual women but on feminism itself.
30 years after this massacre, gender-based violence persists in our workplaces and communities. Half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16. A study by the Canadian Labour Congress and the University of Western Ontario suggests that domestic violence, which is almost always perpetrated against women, often follows them to work.
Since the Ford Conservatives came to power, the Ontario government has taken steps to systematically undermine women’s rights. With the folding of the roundtable on violence against women, funding cuts to the Ontario College of Midwives, funding cuts to Ontario rape crisis centres, the partial reversion to the 1996 sex-ed curriculum, and deep, broad-based cuts to public services such as education, libraries, health, and long-term care disproportionately delivered by women, the Ford Conservatives’ attack has been ceaseless.
CUPE Ontario members are committed to confronting violence against women and girls and fighting back against Ford Conservative policies. The majority of CUPE Ontario’s 270,000 members are women, and we have a history of working to eliminate gender-based violence by organizing awareness campaigns and bargaining protections into our collective agreements.
Racialized, indigenous and LGBTQI2S+ women, as well as women with disabilities, experience higher rates of all forms of violence in our society. Our union works through and alongside our Equality Committees to fight for the safety of women facing intersecting equity issues, including violence. Through our Aboriginal Council, for example, CUPE Ontario supported the call for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and continues advocacy to ensure it reflects the needs of Indigenous women.
The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women reminds us that we all have a role to play in making our workplaces and communities safe for women. It is also incumbent on us to join action in our communities with broad-based political action across the province to elect politicians who will respect women’s rights and support communities, not cuts.
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