Today marks an important day in Canada. It was 29 year ago that 14 women were murdered at École Polytechnique in Montreal.
Since that day, Canadians have been marking National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
Donna Brooks, who serves as the CEO of the YWCA in Prince Albert told paNOW today gives the public a chance to truly reflect on the issue.
“It gives us an opportunity to think about the women and girls whom violence is a daily reality and also to remember those that have died as a result of gender based violence,” she said.
Brooks said while violence against women is still an issue, there have been some important advances.
“Violence against women hasn’t been eliminated. For sure it’s still out there, but the progress that has been made since 1989 is the awareness about violence against women, that it does happen,” she said.
Raising awareness about the issue is important according to Brooks as increased awareness tends to bring along with it more services which can help people who are dealing with the problem.
Darlene Lafayette-Hunter, who works with the Prince Albert Police Service’s Victim Services, said the national day is important as it is important to keep the issue in the public eye.
“It’s still so prevalent, it’s something that we always need to keep at the forefront, that women are still fighting for equal pay in the workplace [and] domestic violence is on the rise,” she said.
Lafayette-Hunter said besides the struggle for equal treatment she said women who are trying to leave unsafe situations in isolated communities are struggling now that STC has ended its service.
“Women are staying longer in domestic violence situations than what they were before,” she said.
Lafayette-Hunter’s colleague at victim services, Kristyn Ziegeman believes education needs to be looked at when discussing the issue of violence against women. While it remains an issue across the board, Ziegeman believes newcomers with different cultural backgrounds need to be educated and made aware of the issue too.
“To just educate them and let them know that is not what happens in Canada and this is what happens should it happen,” she said.
Another course of action which Ziegeman believes would be helpful are domestic violence courts.
“It just is more specific to the needs of like rehabilitation wise, would be more specific to like anger management and certain coping mechanisms for the offenders in the hopes they won’t offend again,” she said.
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