(Black Press file photo)

EDITORIAL: Reflecting on a tragedy, 30 years later

While the Montreal Massacre made headlines because of its scale, gender-based violence is not new

Friday, Dec. 6 marks 30 years since 14 women were shot and killed in what is now known as the Montreal Massacre.

These women — Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colga, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte, and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz — died that evening as a result of male aggression.

While the Montreal Massacre made headlines because of its scale, gender-based violence is nothing new.

It did not begin that evening at École Polytechnique in Montreal, nor did it end then.

Today, according to statistics from the Canadian Women’s Foundation, 67 per cent of Canadians know at least one woman who has experienced physical or sexual abuse.

Each night, more than 6,000 women and children sleep in shelters because they do not feel safe in their homes.

And roughly every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner.

Has any lasting change come as a result of the Montreal Massacre?

In the years immediately following this tragedy, efforts were made to speak out about violence against women, or gender-based violence.

Currently, the tone has become far more tepid when speaking about the Montreal Massacre and gender-based violence.

Some will argue that the shooter in Montreal in 1989 was an exception and that the massacre does not reflect anything other than the deranged acts of one person.

And when other cases of gender-based violence are addressed, some will respond by saying not all men behave violently.

Such responses are inappropriate and do nothing to address a serious problem in Canada.

Gender-based violence has likely touched at least one person in everyone’s circle of friends and acquaintances. And ultimately, it affects everyone.

Unless discussion around gender-based violence puts the focus on prevention, this ongoing and tragic problem will continue.

— Black Press

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