In a moving ceremony, the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) Southport hosted its 32nd annual December 6th vigil for the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
People gathered at Coulter Parkette in Port Elgin to remember the Montreal massacre in 1989 when a gunman took the lives of 14 young engineering university women at the École Polytechnique, and to remember the Indigenous women and girls who have been murdered.
Two photos of Saugeen First Nation’s young women, Maisy Odjick and Shannon Alexander who disappeared and have never been found, were held up along with an Indigenous flag.
Saugeen Shores Police Chief Kevin Zettel spoke saying that the police must work with the community and partners to eliminate the stigma associated with gender based violence and to quickly intervene when someone is suffering. “Earlier this year, the Saugeen Shores Police Service applied for a Community Safety Policing grant and successfully obtained over $80,000 to be spent over the next three years to allow for additional training, investigate resources and acquire educational materials to combat sexual violence and harassment in Saugeen Shores.”
“When it comes to numbers,” added the Chief, “this year is different as we are coming out of the pandemic and, therefore, the number is undetermined. We always encourage reporting but over the last couple of years, we are concerned that the reporting wasn’t there because people weren’t going to work or school and it wasn’t brought to our attention. Unfortunately, this year, our numbers in Saugeen Shores are up as there are more harassments, more domestic situations and more sexual assaults that have been reported, but we are hoping that, through education, there will be more reporting and investigation as reports come to us.”
CFUW President, Odette Bartnicki, also demonstrated the now-universal visual hand signal for women who are in need of help. For anyone who sees the signal for help or knows of someone experiencing violence, visit SignalResponder.ca.
Fourteen volunteers then each held up a photo of one of the Montreal students, as a short bio along with each student’s accomplishments and future dreams was emotionally read aloud for each.
Ending the ceremony, as they do each year, members of the Chantry Singers under direction of Ann Little, performed the musical selection “Let there be Peace on Earth”.
Donations were also collected on-site in support of each of the area’s three Women’s Shelters:
- Women’s Centre Grey Bruce Owen Sound – Crisis line: 519-371-1600
- Women’s House Serving Bruce Grey – Crisis line: 519-396-9655
- Kabaeshiwim Respite Women’s Shelter Saugeen First Nation – Crisis line:519-797-3677
- In an Emergency – call 911
The three centres provide many services and/or referrals including:
>Confidential support & Counselling Services
>Family Court support services
>Pubic education and prevention
>Life skills education
To donate through the CFUW for the Women’s shelters, E-transfer to: email@example.com
All donations are divided equally between the three shelters.