Every year on Dec. 6, Canada observes National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. The day commemorates the anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre in 1989. To recognize this day, the City of Trail lights the bridge red. Photo: Trail Times

Trail advocates call attention to violence against women

"The 16 Days are an opportunity to unite with others," saya Ann Godderis.

Sadly, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has cancelled the physical gatherings and vigils that happen annually on Dec. 6 to recognize a critical day in this country – National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada.

But that doesn’t mean this important movement won’t be remembered, it’ll just be acknowledged differently this year.

“We have decided not to go ahead with a vigil on December 6,” local outreach worker Ann Godderis told the Trail Times.

“Instead, we are hoping to call attention to the issue of violence against women in other ways.”

This includes two written reflections that will be published in the paper in the next few weeks as well as a calling of attention to the 16 pledges for action regarding violence against women that will be posted on the Trail FAIR Society Facebook page daily over the next few weeks starting Wednesday, Nov. 25.

This first piece focuses on the pledge to take action to end gender-based violence.

Starting Wednesday, organizations around the world will again join a United Nations initiated movement to spread awareness and take action during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign.

In the Trail area, an Inter-Agency committee concerned about violence against women will be posting a series of 16 action-oriented messages on the Trail FAIR Society Facebook page.

These pledges to act come from “Promundo” an international organization dedicated to engaging men and boys in promoting gender equality and preventing violence.

The 16 Days campaign runs from the “International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women” to “World Human Rights Day” on Dec. 10.

It also includes Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women on Dec. 6, in remembrance of the 14 young women who were brutally murdered at l’École Polytechnique de Montreal in a horrific act of gender-based violence.

According to the Canadian government Department of Women and Gender Equality Canada (formerly Status of Women), over half of Canadian women have been victims of at least one act of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.

Lesbian and bisexual women are almost four times more likely than heterosexual women to report spousal violence.

Women with a disability are nearly twice as likely as women without a disability to have been sexually assaulted in the past 12 months.

Intimate partner violence and sexual assault cost Canada over $12 billion a year.

“The 16 Days are an opportunity to unite with others,” said Godderis. “And to reflect on what we can each do in our own communities and in our own lives to eliminate the disproportionate violence based on gender faced by women, girls and LGBTQ2 individuals.”

The Trail Interagency VAWIR (Violence Against Women in Relationships) committee is made up of representatives from several local organizations working with women and children.

Members come from such agencies as the Ministry of Children and Family Development, RCMP Victim Services, Mental Health and Substance Use Services, Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, RCMP Detachment, Adult Probation and Trail FAIR’s Stopping the Violence Counselling, WINS Transition House and Community Based Victim Services programs.

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