SUBMITTED BY IWAV AND THE CIRCLE Education
The Dec. 6 Vigil, in memorial and solidarity of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada, is returning to Centennial Park. Due to Covid restrictions, the memorial, hosted by The Circle Salt Spring Education Society and Islanders Working Against Violence (IWAV), was an online event for the past two years.
The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada was established in 1991 by the Parliament of Canada to commemorate the 14 young women who were murdered by a gunman on Dec. 6, 1989, at l’École Polytechnique in Montreal as a deliberate act of violence against women.
More than 30 years have passed since the École Polytechnique massacre, and gender-based violence continues to be a real and horrific issue in the world, in Canada, and in our own community.
In 2021, 173 women and girls in Canada were killed by violence (Canadian Women’s Foundation). The proportion of women killed by a spouse or intimate partner is over eight times greater than the proportion of men (Statistics Canada, 2020). Approximately every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner (Statistics Canada, 2019).
IWAV provides anti-violence services and housing to women (inclusive of cis, non-binary and trans women) and children in the Southern Gulf Islands. In 2021-22, IWAV received 517 crisis calls and served over 105 women and 28 children fleeing violence and abuse. These services include a 24-hour crisis line, outreach and advocacy, sexual assault response, counselling and transitional housing.
With the societal pressures and ongoing impact of the pandemic, there continues to be an increase in service demands, escalation in level of violence, and increased vulnerability of women, children and youth who experience violence and abuse. IWAV provides safe, confidential and compassionate services.
In honouring its roots, The Circle Education continues to provide education around gender-based violence. Currently, The Circle Education is partnered with Women and Gender Equality Canada to promote the “It’s Not Just” youth awareness campaign. This is also the Government of Canada’s theme for the 2022 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence Campaign. The theme is a double meaning: it reminds Canadians of the injustice of gender-based violence (GBV) and brings attention to how it is minimized and dismissed in society. It also highlights how GBV is not just a private issue, but a systemic cycle that all Canadians have a role in ending. The It’s Not Just campaign asks all Canadians to take action against GBV by addressing the beliefs and behaviours that perpetuate violence.
More broadly, the work of The Circle is to nurture healthy and respectful relationships along various dimensions. In their programs, The Circle Education encourages young people to develop their empathy muscles, challenge their assumptions and judgements, and dismantle unhealthy stereotypes that create division. With these tools, the programs help youth to be tolerant, inclusive and respectful of all forms of diversity.
Salt Spring islanders are invited to gather at 5 p.m. in Centennial Park for the Tuesday, Dec. 6 memorial.
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