Life has no smooth road for any of us; and in the bracing atmosphere of a high aim the very roughness stimulates the climber to steadier steps, till the legend, over steep ways to the stars, fulfills itself.

W. C. Doane

Monday, December 12, 2011

December 6th 2011 Let us Always Cherish our Lives...

This day is an important one to me and I wanted to take some time to share it with you all.

On December 6th 1989. 22 years ago, Mark Lepine walked through the halls of École Polytechnique, a Univesity in Montreal Quebec, and opened gunshot on the students. Enraged that he had been rejected from the Engineering program, he stalked the hallways ready to fire when necessary. He walked into a classroom and demanded that the men and women be separated by sex into two lines and asked the men to leave the room.

"I am fighting Feminism"

He shot 6 of them from right to left and continued through the hallway where he proceeded to walk through the rest of the school, targeting womyn in his rampage. He entered another classroom and shot and killed another 8 womyn. In total he killed 14 womyn, injured another 10, and injured 4 men, before turning the gun on himself and committing suicide.

Every year on this day we commemorate the deaths of these young womyn and remember others who've died at the hands of violence. I think what i carry the most in remembrance of December 6th is the structural violence people of all genders face, and the hatred that some people carry on a daily basis. We live in a world that teaches us to hate, that teaches us that for one reason or another if you don't conform to certain standards set by society, you dont deserve to be a part of it.

I was involved in organizing the city wide vigil this year and about a hundred people came to morn with us. They gathered to Ottawa's Women's monument, to share a moment of silence for the 14 womyn that died at École Polytechnique.

Police came in uniform. It always pleases me to see police officers coming to take part in a night like this. Particularly knowing the way the justice system treats issues of violence against women.

A group of native womyn held pictures of their missing or murdered loved ones as a choir sang a song of remembrance. There are over 500 missing and murdered aboriginal womyn in Canada today. Let us remember that this land once belonged to them, and was stolen from them.

We began to name the women that had died all over Ontario this year. As each name was read out loud, along with a small story about who they were, a rose was placed at the base of the Women's Monument to represent each of those lives lost.

A native woman started to spread something around base of the monument where the lanterns and flowers were placed. I just stood and silently wondered what she was doing.

 Soon after, I ran up to her and asked what it was she had scattered. She told me it was tabacco. Apparently tabacco is sacred plant to the Aboriginal tribes of Ontario. She told me that the roots of a tabacco plant run deep into the ground but the smoke, once burned can rises into the sky, making its way to the heavens, therefore connecting those on earth to people in the afterlife.

As the night came to an end, everyone made their way home, ready to end the night in a nice warm bed. I went to bed grateful to be alive, grateful to be fighting this battle for equality, grateful to have never faced such extreme violence in my life. Most of all, i was grateful to know there are people out there who love me, know me, treasure me. While my life is far from a perfect one, on Dec 6th every year i'll be thankful to be alive.

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