Mr. Silver: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I also rise to pay tribute to this national day of remembrance. I remember 26 years ago — December 6, 1989. Lots of important things happened in 1989 — the protests in Tiananmen Square, the fall of the Berlin Wall. However, the one event that shook Canadians the most was the Montreal massacre.
On December 6, a very troubled man entered École Polytechnique, an engineering university in Montreal. He was armed with a semiautomatic rifle and a knife. He separated the men from the women. In 20 minutes, he killed 14 women and then himself. From notes that he had left behind, he said he was doing this because women were taking jobs from men. It was a profoundly shocking display of violence, and it was clearly gender-based. I remember when I heard the news, and I felt loss and shame.
Here is what we know about violence against women: Statistics Canada says that victims of violence are about 50/50, men and women; however, 9 times out of 10, it is men who are creating these assaults. Clearly it is us, the men, who need to work to change this situation.
Most violence against women is not random. Most violence, as it turns out, is done by somebody who knows that person. The assaults against women are committed usually by spouses or by partners. We call it domestic violence, but the word “domestic” makes it seem tame or safe. Really, it’s an assault — an assault by somebody who is known — often somebody who is loved or trusted.
Now society has changed over the past quarter of a century, but we still have very much left to do on violence. Here in the Yukon, we know of 39 missing and murdered aboriginal women. Violence is more prevalent in some groups, yet extends across all demographics — all incomes, all ethnicities.
Over the years, I have attended the national day of remembrance — the day we commemorate the Montreal massacre and acknowledge the victims of violence against women. I want to acknowledge the groups like the Yukon Aboriginal Women’s Council, Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre and Les EssentiElles. These organizations work year-round to help raise awareness about violence against women.
It is great that they do this work, yet in order to get to the root of the issue — to truly create a culture and the cultural change necessary — we need to see more men taking responsibility. So I would like to acknowledge one more group: White Ribbon Yukon is men positively engaging men to challenge — quote: “… language and behaviours, as well as harmful ideas of manhood that lead to violence against women.” These guys work to convince men to speak out and to say something when they witness abuse or violence. They also organize the White Ribbon campaign. The white ribbon is a reminder and, for me, a pledge to end violence against women.
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