Marking 26 years since 14 women were targeted and killed at Montreal’s École Polytechnique, and remembering the many who died violently before and since, Cowichan Valley residents gathered at Sands Funeral Chapel in Duncan for a vigil on Dec. 6, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
Among those remembered at the vigil was Karrie Ann Stone, a Duncan woman who was murdered in 2010. Her killer is now serving life in prison. Stone’s mother, Bev, addressed the vigil.
“Why is it that women are treated in this manner?” Bev Stone asked. “Why are our lives worth less than a man’s life?”
She urged people to teach their sons to treat women with the same civility they would treat men.
“Some of our teachings have to come from within our families, that women have to be treated with respect and nothing less,” she said.
Stone also expressed the value of events like the Dec. 6 vigil.
“Hopefully someday [violence against women] will stop,” she said. “I think we’re a long way down the road from that, but things like this make a difference.”
First Nations elder Dolly Pratt remembered her friend Dawn Crey, whose DNA was found on the farm owned by serial killer Robert Pickton. She evoked the hundreds of missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada whose families are seeking some sort of justice.
“In our land, we are not welcome,” she said. “In our land, we are treated like dirt. In our land, our women and children are stolen and killed every day. We are long past due for a little respect in the land that was stolen from us. I am an angry woman. I have been angry since the day my friend Dawn was killed. And I will die angry.”
Pratt was in attendance with the Cowichan Spirit Drummers, who performed two songs. Local songwriter Loren Halloran also performed two songs.
Jane Sterk, the executive director or Cowichan Women Against Violence, pointed out that 2016 will be the 35th anniversary of CWAV and 25th year that Somenos House has been in its current location. Sterk included all gender-variant individuals in her comments.
“We are here today because in some way, gender-based violence affects us all,” she said.