Statement from Marty Warrren, marking December 6, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

We were all shaken to hear the news, back on September 22, about three women murdered near Wilno, Ontario, by the same man, an ex-partner with a long record of violence. Sadly, these three women were not the only sisters, mothers, wives, and daughters to lose their lives to domestic violence this year in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces.

On December 6, we remember the day in 1989, when a man murdered fourteen young female engineering students at Montreal’s École Polytechnique. And by remembering them, we honour and remember all the women and girls who have left us too early, who were targeted because they were women.

Fortunately, December 6 is also a day of action. Because remembering a tragedy without trying to prevent it happening again is not acceptable. As we say in the trade union movement, let’s mourn for those we have lost, then organize to help the living.

And there are actions which will make a huge difference. I hope that, in a few days, we will hear the federal government call a national enquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women. Steelworkers have joined our voices with so many others calling for an enquiry, and insisting that victims’ families and Aboriginal women’s organizations be consulted in the enquiry’s design.

But we need more. We need a national action plan on violence against women, to co-ordinate the legislative changes and support services needed across jurisdictions. Women’s organizations and domestic-violence survivors have already mapped the way. They have created a “blueprint” document that governments should follow as they develop this long-overdue strategy.

And in the short term, we need more shelters and better funding for shelters. On any given night in this country, 4,600 women and 3,600 children are forced to sleep in emergency shelters due to violence. Hundreds of others have to be turned away because of a shortage of space.

On December 6, attend a vigil or pause in silence to honour and remember the women who have died. Then roll up your sleeves. Along with sisters and brothers in our local unions, telephone and write and e-mail provincial and federal politicians, calling for action to end the loss of women’s lives.

Marty Warren

Director, District 6, United Steelworkers

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