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News Releases

REF NO.: 126

SUBJECT: Memorial holds solemn ceremony to mark tragic anniversary
DATE: Dec. 6, 2005

Memorial University will mark a sombre anniversary this month. The annual Dec. 6 Vigil takes place in the Engineering Building, room EN-2006, on the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, which was established by the federal government in 1991. That day marks the tragic anniversary of the 1989 Montreal Massacre when 14 women were killed at l'École Polytechnique. Members of the university community, including students, faculty and staff, are encouraged to attend this year’s vigil.

A number of student groups will take a lead role in the ceremony, including School of Music flutist Johanna Jabora-Scott, who will perform during a candlelight procession. The Marine Institute Student Union; MUNSU; the Graduate Student Union; Engineering Society “A”; LBGT-MUN; One in Four and Memorial's Sexual Harassment Office will also take part in the procession, as well as the Women's Resource Centre.

There will also be a musical performance by the group Whizgiggin’, under the direction of Angela Dawe, and featuring students Adam Warren and Lacy O’Connell.

Lori Yetman, Memorial’s sexual harassment advisor, said a serious message underscores Memorial's vigil.

“On Dec. 6, 1989, I was concluding a chapter for my MA thesis and a chapter in which I wrote women's stories of sexual violence,” she said. “My telephone rang. It was a friend advising me to turn on the TV. I listened to the news in disbelief and I began to cry. Women were killed because they were women. Women are killed because they are women. How does this happen? How do we as a society — as individuals — allow this to happen?”

Ms Yetman said she thinks a similar massacre could happen again. She said the Montreal tragedy occurred because there was a level of “cultural support” in society to allow a man to take the lives of 14 women.

“The stories I hear, everyday, tell me that as women, we are exposed to acts, images, words, behaviours and attitudes that demean, devalue and objectify us,” Ms Yetman added. “Yet sometimes, maybe most often, these acts, images and words seem so commonplace, so insignificant, that we ignore them. We forget that our collective silence is mistakenly interpreted as consent — as permission. As women and as men, when it's safe, we have to challenge the sexism, racism and heterosexism on behalf of those of us who cannot, the ones who may be more vulnerable or less powerful.”

This year’s vigil will include the 2005 December Monologues which will feature writers taking about a world of no gendered violence.

Also during the vigil, information displays will be provided by the Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre; the Women’s Resource Centre and the Sexual Harassment Office.

This year’s vigil takes place Tuesday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m. in the Engineering Building, Room EN-2006.

Free parking will be available in all lots marked 16 or 16A.

Note to editors:Media agencies are encouraged to send representatives to this year’s ceremony.

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