GBC community holds vigil and solidarity march for gender-based violence in Canada
Students and faculty gathered at the St. James campus of George Brown College (GBC) on Monday to remember women who have lost their lives due to gender-based violence.
The vigil commemorated the 14 murdered women at École Polytechnique in 1989, missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada and women in Ontario who lost their lives due to gender-based violence in 2018.
After an emotionally-charged candlelight vigil, students and faculty stood together to take the issue to the streets, quite literally.
The protesters chanted, “Wherever we are, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no!” while marching down King Street, united in their message against gender-based violence.
Hana Yassin, a second-year student in the assaulted women’s and children’s counsellor / advocate program (AWCCA) student who marched in the protest said she experienced some negative reactions during the march.
Yassin said she heard onlookers insult the protestors for stopping traffic and call them stupid. Despite the negative reactions Yassin said that the march itself was empowering.
The vigil was preceded by speaker Bridget Perrier, an activist and GBC alumni of the community worker program. Perrier was the keynote speaker for the day, sharing her experiences with gender-based violence to the crowd.
“It’s not laws that kill our women, it’s not the streets who kill our women—it’s men who are killing our women,” said Perrier, setting the tone for the rest of the vigil.
An emotional and somber candlelight vigil then commenced with speakers sharing the names, stories, and causes of death of murdered women in Ontario. A candle was lit for each name.
Claire Larkin, a second-year AWCCA student and one of the vigil’s co-ordinators, said that events like these are necessary for the GBC community.
“It’s a dirty little secret that nobody wants to talk about,” said Larkin who said it was intended to educate about gender-based violence.
Jasmine Chatha, a human rights advisor and investigator in GBC’s diversity, equity, human rights services office was also a speaker in the event.
Chatha said that it is important to remember the École Polytechnique massacre of Dec. 6, 1989, because many students at GBC might not have been alive when it happened.
She hopes events like these will serve as an educational tool and to also help the GBC community become allies in the fight on gender-based violence.
“Hopefully it spurs them to educate themselves, seek out other resources, seek more information and help to be a solution to the problem,” said Chatha.
The AWCCA program held the candlelight vigil and march as part of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, which is marked on Dec. 6.