Hibbs family takes part in Montreal Massacre vigil

The family of Juliane Hibbs, who was gunned down by a former boyfriend in October, will be taking part in a St. John's vigil marking the anniversary of the 1989 Montreal Massacre.

Tree-lighting ceremony in St. John's remembers victims of violence against women

Debbie Hibbs, the mother of murder victim Juliane Hibbs, and Connie Pike of the Coalition Against Violence, hang ornaments with the names of murdered women on a tree at Memorial University's engineering building. (Ariana Kelland/CBC )

The family of Juliane Hibbs, a woman who was gunned down by a former boyfriend in October is taking part in a St. John's vigil marking the anniversary of the 1989 Montreal Massacre.

The Hibbs family joined others in the lobby of the engineering building at Memorial University's St. John's campus on Friday evening. 

Juliane Hibbs and her fiancé Vince Dillon were both shot and killed by Brian Dawe, her former boyfriend, in October. Dawe then took his own life. 

Debbie Hibbs, Juliane's mother, said her daughter was in an abusive relationship with Dawe for 15 years.

Juliane Hibbs was shot and killed by her former boyfriend in October. Her family is hoping to raise awareness about domestic violence. (Contributed photo)

Hibbs said taking part in the ceremony will help the family deal with the loss of her daughter and raise awareness about domestic abuse.

"Because of the tragic death of our daughter Juliane, I thought it was a good way [to remember] not only the 14 young women who died in the Montreal Massacre, but also the women from our province that have died [due to violence] since 1979, which would include out daughter who was gunned down," Hibbs said.

Tree ornaments name victims of violence

The ceremony included a special tree-lighting ceremony at the engineering building on Memorial University's St. John's campus. Hibbs said the tree will have purple lights, in keeping with the purple ribbon campaign.

The tree was hung with ornaments with the names of the 14 women who were murdered at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989, as well as names of all the women in this province who have either gone missing or have been killed by domestic violence since 1979.

Connie Pike, the executive director of the Coalition Against Violence, said naming the murdered women puts faces on the statistics. 

"I think if you look at the cumulative picture, if you added up all those numbers every day, you're talking thousands of cases each day in this province of domestic violence," said Pike. 

The names of the victims of the Montreal Massacre, as well as the women from Newfoundland and Labrador who have either gone missing or died from domestic abuse, will be added to the tree being lit during a vigil Friday night in St. John's. (CBC)

"I just think it's a good way to create awareness in any way that we can, and let people know that this is a number one issue out there, a very important issue," added Hibbs. "And we have to try to make as much awareness as we can and eradicate violence against women from our society."

Christmas can be difficult, says Hibbs 

Hibbs said her family will have a difficult Christmas this year, and she pointed out that it's important for the public to remember that this time of year can be heartbreaking for a lot of people.

"So everybody out there, when everybody is enjoying Christmas this year, it's a festive time of the year, [remember] there's a lot of people in mourning who've lost a daughter to violence," she said.

"And for people to be aware [that] not everybody is celebrating the holidays, and maybe there's some way that you know you can help and do something."