December 6th marks the 34th anniversary of the École Polytechnique Massacre, which occurred on December 6, 1989, in Montreal. The perpetrator, fueled by misogynistic beliefs, took the lives of 14 young women that day. Three decades later, the impact of this horrific act of violence continues to reverberate through the ongoing struggle against gender-based violence.
The risk of harassment and violence tragically continues to be a daily reality for many workers, particularly affecting women who are Indigenous, black and people of colour, and gender-diverse people.
The importance of activism in challenging these systemic issues cannot be overstated. Advocacy, organizing, education, and policy changes are critical components of the ongoing struggle to create and cultivate safer, more equitable spaces for all workers.
The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women is a fitting time to underscore the work of our union's active Women and Gender Rights Committee, lead by our president Stephanie Smith. The committee's primary role is to make recommendations to our union's Provincial Executive on the elimination of specifically identified systemic barriers, to ensure the full participation of women, trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming members in our union.
This year, the committee hosted our first women and gender rights conference – Intersectionality – what does it mean? – in Fort St. John. Many activists and gender-diverse members came together to explore intersectionality as a framework for tackling overlapping forms of prejudice and discrimination, and to discuss critical issues such as domestic violence, disability rights and justice, and Indigenous reconciliation.
Over the past few years, committee members also participated in the federal government's roundtable on gender-based violence and sent letters to the provincial government calling for paid leave for survivors of domestic and sexual assault. This work has resulted in inclusions within our collective agreements for special leaves for employees experiencing domestic violence.
In 2020, as a direct result of the labour movement's advocacy, the government announced up to five days paid leave for employees experiencing domestic and sexual violence and five days of additional unpaid leave to seek medical attention, counselling or other social or psychological services.
In January 2023, Canada ratified the International Labour Convention 190 on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work which will come into effect early in the new year. It is the first-ever global treaty on ending violence and harassment in the workplace, and one the global labour movement fought hard to achieve. C190 is particularly notable for its focus on gender-based violence and recognition of vulnerable workers.
There is still much work to be done, but we will continue our collective efforts to end gender-based violence, to promote inclusivity, and to advocate for policies that prioritize safety and equity for all.
Today we hope you consider attending one of the events in your area, commemorating the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women. It's vital that we stand together in unison to demand an end to violence against women, girls, and gender-diverse people. We have compiled a comprehensive list of events throughout the province here. New events are emerging daily so be sure to check for others in your area before you make a plan. We also encourage you to share the social media shareable we have included below.
On this National Day of Remembrance and Action, let's use this day as a catalyst for a renewed commitment to creating a world where every person, regardless of gender, can work and live free from the threat of violence and harassment.
If you or someone you know is experiencing violence or abuse, here are a few links to services and resources in BC:
1-800-563-0808 a multilingual information service available throughout BC and the Yukon 24/7.
Or Text VictimLink BC at 604-836-6381.
BC Housing - Transition Houses & Safe Homes List
List and contact information for all of the transition houses across the province.
Women Against Violence Against Women 24-Hour Crisis Line
604-255-6344 or toll-free 1-877-392-7583
Battered Women Support Services Crisis line
604-687-1867 or 1-855-687-1868 or text 604-652-1867 or email: [email protected].
Ending Violence BC
Non-residential anti-violence programs.
Genevieve Bergeron | Helene Colgan | Nathalie Croteau | Barbara Daigneault | Anne-Marie Edward | Maud Haviernick | Barbara Maria Klucznik | Maryse Laganiere | Maryse Leclair | Anne-Marie Lemay | Sonia Pelletier | Michele Richard | Annie St-Arneault | Annie Turcotte
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