December 06, 2012 - 2:58 PM
Across the country, Canadians are reflecting on the issue of violence against women, and Okanagan College staff and students aren't letting the cause go unnoticed in Vernon.
The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women marks the anniversary of Dec. 6, 1989, a day when 14 young women at a technical school in Montreal were shot to death by a man claiming he was "fighting feminism".
The day has grown to encompass more than those 14 women. It provides an opportunity for Canadians to consider the many ways violence against women occurs in our society.
"We've put a B.C. spin on the event," says Eric Reist, the General Manager for the Vernon Students Association Okanagan College (VSAOC).
"We're highlighting the Highway of Tears and of course, we're thinking of Taylor Van Diest," he says of the Armstrong teen who was brutally beaten and left for dead while walking to meet her friends Halloween night one year ago.
"While this is a remembrance for women, we're asking men and children to come out as well," says Reist.
"The healing process involves men too."
Reist, along with Okanagan College students and members of the community, has organized a candlelight vigil and evening of remembrance at the college tonight, beginning at 4 p.m.
The film "Polytechnique", which documents the events of the "Montreal Massacre", will be shown at 4p.m. in the lecture theatre.
"It's a powerful and disturbing film," says Reist, adding there will be time for the audience to "de-brief" after the screening.
The remembrance ceremony begins at 6p.m. in the college's cafeteria and includes guest speakers Debbie Hamilton from the women's transition house, local politician Juliette Cunningham, and Koola Louis from the Okanagan Indian Band. The evening will also feature traditional drumming and an interactive art project.
A canvas painted by Beryl Beaupre, a member of the Metis Association, will be the receptacle for the public's thoughts on violence against women.
"Each person will receive a paper feather, write what violence against women means to them, and attach it to the canvas," says Reist. A painted eagle spreads its wings on the canvas, waiting to "fly away" with all the violence.
A candlelight vigil with 14 red roses to symbolize the women who died in 1989 will end the evening.
Reist hopes tonight, the association's second annual remembrance ceremony, will see more than the roughly 30 people who attended last year.
"The more awareness we can raise the better."
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2012