March in Montreal honours memory of Rebekah Harry, 29-year-old domestic violence victim
Harry was the 7th woman to die in 7 weeks from domestic violence in Quebec
Several hundred people took to the streets on Saturday afternoon in honour of Rebekah Harry, a 29-year-old woman who died after being assaulted by her boyfriend last week.
Harry was rushed to hospital on March 20 and died in hospital three days later. Her boyfriend, 32-year-old Brandon McIntyre, has been charged with second-degree murder in relation to her death.
At the march organized by her family, friends and loved ones came out to denounce domestic violence.
The event comes one day after a slew of protests were held across Quebec to call attention to the recent rash of intimate partner violence-related deaths in the province that have made headlines in the past two months.
After police confirmed that Kataluk Paningayak-Naluiyuk, 43, was killed by her partner in Nunavik, she became the eighth woman in eight weeks to die as a result of domestic violence.
Sasha Bouvier, who had been friends with Harry for 10 years, told CBC that her friend was beloved wherever she went.
"Rebekah was an amazing friend, she was an amazing mother," said Bouvier.
"This is truly a tragedy."
Svetlana Chernienko, a domestic abuse advocate who has been helping the Harry family, told CBC on Saturday that she's glad to see more attention being paid to this issue.
"Eight women now in eight weeks have been murdered due to domestic violence. We need to create a change," she said. "We need to have more conversations to raise more awareness so more women feel comfortable coming forward."
Chernienko, herself a survivor of intimate partner violence, said it's good to see people unifying in support of the cause, but the next step needs to be government accountability.
She said women and men experiencing violence in their relationships need access to safe housing and therapy services.
In March, SOS Violence Conjugale, the provincial toll-free crisis line, told CBC it had received more than 34,000 online and phone requests for help since January — an unprecedented number.
However, Claudine Thibaudeau, a clinical co-ordinator with SOS Violence Conjugale, said too many people who reach out to the service aren't able to get the help they need.
"Around 30 per cent of the time, when people call us to ask for shelter, we have to tell them that unfortunately we can't find a place for them within a reasonable distance, or that's catered to their needs."
Despite repeated calls from advocacy groups, many felt that the amount earmarked in the latest Quebec budget ($22.5 million over five years to fund services for women at existing emergency shelters) was not enough.
- As violence against women escalates, Quebec groups renew calls for government to step in, stop the 'madness'
Along with the march, Harry's family also plan to create a foundation in her name aimed at fighting domestic abuse.
WATCH | Family of domestic violence victim speaks out:
With files from Valeria Cori-Manocchio