Important events mark December 6

Plaque at l'Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal

On December 6, 1989, Marc Lépine, armed with a rifle and a hunting knife, entered a classroom at l'Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, separated male from female students, claimed he was "fighting feminism", and shot all nine women in the room, killing six. He then moved through other areas of the university specifically targeting women to shoot. In just under twenty minutes on that day twenty four years ago, fourteen women died and ten women and four men were wounded. The gunman then turned the gun on himself.

In 1991, the Canadian Parliament established December 6 as National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. The legislation was introduced in the House of Commons as a private member's bill by Dawn Black, NDP Member of Parliament for New Westminster-Burnaby. The bill received all-party support. Since that day, flags on all Canadian federal buildings are flown at half-mast on December 6. In addition, Canadians are encouraged to observe a minute of silence on December 6 and to wear a white ribbon (or a purple ribbon) as a commitment to end violence against women.

December 6 provides an opportunity for all of us to reflect on the problem of violence against women in our society. It is also an opportunity to consider participating in actions aimed at eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls. Here are some of the events being held this week: