A greater willingness to talk about violence against women

Lisa Goudy
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A staff member at the Moose Jaw Transition House talks to someone on the crisis line.

Ever since the Montreal Massacre in 1989, there has been more talk about violence against women, according to the executive director of Moose Jaw Transition House.

“I think with so many things, people are reluctant to act until there’s a tragedy,” said Karen Closs. “We often don’t realize until there’s a tragedy just what the impact is.”

On Dec. 6, 1989, Marc Lepine entered École Polytechnique in Montreal in the school's engineering department. Armed with a semi-automatic rifle, he walked into an engineering classroom and separated the men and women. Lepine announced he was “fighting feminism” and killed all nine women in the room.

He went in the halls, a lunchroom and another classroom and shot other women. In less than 20 minutes, he killed 14 women, injured 10 women and four men and then shot himself.

“Since that event in 1989, certainly we see in the public maybe a greater willingness to talk about violence against women,” said Closs. “I think there’s been a lot more movement or work by men to end violence against women.”

In 1991, a group of Canadian men got together and began the white ribbon campaign to work toward ending violence against women as a response to the Montreal massacre.

Wearing a white ribbon, said Closs, signifies a “pledge to not commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women.”

“When you look at men overall, it’s a very small percentage of men that choose to use violence in their relationship, and so it’s all the other men. What are they going to do about it?” she said. “It wouldn’t be fair to paint all men with the same brush ... I think that was kind of the attitude of the men that started the white ribbon campaign.”

For more information, see Saturday's edition of the Times-Herald Weekend Extra.

Organizations: Montreal Massacre, Moose Jaw Transition House, École Polytechnique

Geographic location: Montreal

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