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Vigil against violence

Erika Sherk
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 01/06) - We'll always remember, always think of these ladies," said Denyse Nadon-Holder.

She was speaking of the 14 women who were killed in Montreal on Dec. 6, 1989 by a young gunman.

NNSL Photo/graphic

Annie Goose lights a candle to remember violence against women during a ceremony held on Dec. 6, 2003. - NNSL file photo

Marc Lepine stood in front of a classroom of female engineering students at l'Ecole polytechnique, screamed "I hate feminists" and then opened fire. We must never forget about that moment, said Nadon-Holder.

However, she was also speaking of women closer to home who have died from violence.

Nadon-Holder is an organizer of Yellowknife's Dec. 6 vigil that remembers the Montreal Massacre.

This year the vigil will focus more on women in the territories, she said, especially aboriginal women who bear the brunt of violence in the North.

It is important to remember the tragedy in Montreal, but to keep a perspective on what is happening at home, said Sharon Thomas, executive director for the Status of Women Council, one of the groups organizing the event.

"It was a really serious event against women in our history, but we're still dealing with violence against women on a day-to-day basis here," she said.

Focusing on present and future violence will help people remember that it is "absolutely and entirely, 100 per cent preventable," said Lyda Fuller, executive director for the Yellowknife YWCA.

The vigil here, which is part of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women recognized across Canada, will be held at Northern United Place on Wednesday, Dec. 6 from 3 to 6 pm.

Candles will be available for the vigil and moment of silence.

Counsellors will be on hand for anyone who needs them and there will be musical entertainment with Snowbird and Friends and others.

Though the focus is on women, "men are definitely welcome to come and participate," said Nadon-Holder.

It takes more than just women participating to end the violence, she said.

"We can't just look at the men and say 'oh, the men beat the women - put them in jail.' We have to look at the big picture," she said.

"It's a really stark reality in the NWT," said Alison Blackduck, an organizer with the YWCA. When it comes to violence, "we need to have reminders about what we lose," she said.

There is much work to be done, and that is what the vigil is about, said the women.

"I don't believe violence against women has been stigmatized enough," added Blackduck, "it's still seen as acceptable in some ways."

This is the final instalment in a seven-part series on women's and family organizations in the city.