Charlottetown’s 30th annual memorial of the Montreal Massacre concluded with a song about resilience in the face of injustice.
Three members of the all-women choir group Sirens performed the song "Warrior" by Kim Baryluk. The three-verse song tells the story of a “shy and lonely girl", a child who feels powerless. In the song, the child eventually grows up to be a woman who has found her voice and who “can and will a warrior be".
"We thought it would be an appropriate piece because it's about finding that personal power to stand up to injustice in the world," said Kate Dempsey, a member of Sirens.
The Memorial Hall of the Confederation Centre was packed as hundreds turned out to mark the anniversary of the 1989 killing of 14 women in Montreal at École Polytechnique. The killings were carried out by Marc Lépine, who had penned an anti-feminist manifesto beforehand.
At a glance
Fourteen women were killed in Montreal by Marc Lépine on Dec. 6, 1989. They were:
- Geneviève Bergeron
- Hélène Colgan
- Nathalie Croteau
- Barbara Daigneault
- Anne-Marie Edward
- Maud Haviernick
- Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz
- Maryse Laganière
- Maryse Leclair
- Anne-Marie Lemay
- Sonia Pelletier
- Michèle Richard
- Anne St-Arneault
- Annie Turcotte
The Charlottetown Dec. 6 memorial also commemorated the 10 women who have been murdered on P.E.I. since 1989.
"Men they knew and loved were convicted, charged or implicated in their death,” Deborah Langston of the P.E.I. Advisory Council on the Status of Women told the audience.
“These murders were not chance or coincidence. We must act in memory of all murdered women in Canada – all victims of violence against women and all victims of family violence."
Langston also made reference to the release earlier this year of a report from the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
"Indigenous women continue to die and go missing every week in Canada,” Langston said.
Dawn Wilson, the featured speaker for the memorial, spoke about her personal experiences. By 1989, as a young child, she had already stayed twice in Anderson House, P.E.I.’s emergency shelter for women facing violence.
"I was already terribly familiar with the fear of gender-based violence," Wilson said.
"After returning from one stay at Anderson House, I can vividly recall sitting in our family vehicle in the driveway and listening to my father tell my mother that if she left with us again, he would kill her and bury her body in the backyard."
Wilson described the terror she felt at the time but also spoke of the support and courage shown to her and her mother from other family members.
“To the survivors and their supporters in the room today, thank you for stepping up when you were called. I see how brave you have been,” Wilson said.
Wilson has since begun working at Anderson House. She said the work has made her fully realize the toll the current housing crisis has taken on vulnerable women.
"It's clear we must tackle the difficult and necessary work of eliminating gender-based violence. And it will require all of us, working together as individuals and organizations, institutions and governments," Wilson said.