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Community groups push for end to violence against women

Dec. 6 has become a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, marked by ceremonies that allow people to reflect on violence against women and re-commit to ending it.

Groups across Hamilton are coming together today in a series of events aimed at helping to end violence against women.

It’s been more than 20 years since the Dec. 6 massacre at École Polytechnique in Montreal when 14 women were murdered by a male student, but the issue of violence against women still prevails. The day has become a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women and is marked by ceremonies that allow people to reflect on violence against women and re-commit to ending it.

'We want to remind the whole community of our need to support women and women’s shelters and to do what we can to promote a non-violent society.'—Carol Wood, Anti-Violence Network

"It’s not just about these 14 women," Natasha Dobler, program manager for the Women’s Centre of Hamilton, said.

"That event was a catalyst that opened society’s eyes to violence against women, but it still exists."

Dobler pointed out that 17 women were murdered in Ontario this year alone. Statistics Canada reports that spousal homicide against women is up 19 per cent, she added, showing that the issue still needs attention.

"We all want to end violence against women, but this is a good time to pause and reflect on what that means."

The Women’s Centre and the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre are hosting a memorial service from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. tonight at the WAHC on Stuart Street. The service includes an art show, short film, speakers, music and a candlelight vigil.

At McMaster University, the Anti-Violence Network will hold an afternoon ceremony at 2 p.m. to commemorate the 14 victims and refocus attention on the issue of violence against women.

"This event galvanized the Canadian psyche about the issue of violence against women. It brings that awareness and draws people together into advocacy," Carol Wood, facilitator for the Anti-Violence Network, said.

Though the service falls in the middle of exam period for McMaster students, she hoped they would be able to attend either their  ceremony or the evening events at WAHC.

"We want to remind the whole community of our need to support women and women’s shelters and to do what we can to promote a non-violent society."

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