On December 6, 1989, fourteen young women at Polytechnique Montréal were murdered and 10 others injured in an act of violent misogyny that shook our country and led Parliament to designate December 6 as The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
Women, girls and 2SLGBTQI+ individuals face unacceptable violence and discrimination. Gender-based violence (GBV) in Canada has been magnified and amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Police services, shelters, and local organizations around the country report an increase in calls related to gender-based violence across Canada during the pandemic.
On June 28th a violent attack on a professor and two students occurred at the University of Waterloo. The professor of a philosophy class that considered gender issues and two students in the class were stabbed by another student in what police described as a hate crime. This incident is a clear demonstration of the potential danger many faculty face as they challenge traditional narratives and promote equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Gender based violence and discrimination is a real concern at our university too. USFA members face comments in student learning questionnaires, and hateful, aggressive, and threatening emails. The U of S Violence Prevention Policy defines violence as:
…the attempted, threatened, or actual conduct of a person that causes or is likely to cause injury, and includes any threatening statement or behaviour that gives the worker reasonable cause to believe that the worker is at risk of injury.
While December 6 is an opportunity to reflect on gender based violence, to remember those who have died as a result, to come together, speak out, and take action to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, it is not and should not be the only day to remember and act. Adopt these simple but powerful actions all year long.
- Listen: be open to learning from the experiences of others
- Believe: support survivors and those affected by violence. It is very important that you say the words ‘’I believe you’’ and ‘’This is not your fault’’
- Educate (yourself and others): learn the facts about GBV; know what your workplace policies say about violence and harassment; take a course; participate in an event
- Speak out: add your voice to call out violence
- Intervene: find a safe way to help when you see acts of gender-based violence. Name what you see. Express your concern and ask how you can help. Intervening can also mean providing support and resources
- Act: give your time or donate to organizations working to end gender-based violence