Close to 75 faculty, staff and students gathered to observe the National Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on Thursday, December 6 in the Art Gallery.
Presented by Saint Mary’s University and Peaceful Schools International, the solemn day marked the 29th anniversary of the shooting deaths of 14 female students at École Polytechnique in Montreal. Saint Mary’s has been holding the memorial annually since 1989, when the tragic shooting occurred.
In his remarks, President Robert Summerby-Murray reminded attendees that universities are to be both places of “sanctuary” and action to create a culture of respect for all, and that universities must lead in this action.
The service included a poem reading by Lindsay Vandewater, SMUSA Equity Officer as well as a moment of silence in honour of the fallen women.
Brianna Comeau and Kartik Saini of the SMU Women’s Centre presented the “Solidarity Canvas” hanging in the Art Gallery, a student-created, interactive installment that acknowledges violence suffered by women and other marginalized communities, and urged people to listen, believe, speak out, intervene and act to become allies.
Members of the SMUSA executive, the SMU football team and the Conflict Resolution Society gathered at the front of the room to quietly place 14 white roses in a vase as the names of the shooting victims were read aloud.
Danielle Day, 3rd year Engineering student at SMU, was awarded the Montreal Women’s Memorial Scholarship. Grade 8 students and creators of a trio of children’s books on peaceful conflict resolution were invited to the podium and attended and spoke of their hope and optimism that in the future, women would not longer have to face such violence.