Day 13 of The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence 2019 #IStandWithHer

Tamarack Verrall
Posted December 7, 2019 from Canada
14 Pillars of Light for each of the women killed December 6, 1989
Old friends. Same path.
Old friends. Same path. (1/1)

This time yesterday I was walking with three close, long time friends to the top of the small mountain that is the centre of my city. We went to honour the 14 women killed and the women injured here in 1989 at the École Polytechnique, this being the 30th Memorial. Killed because they dared to be there, dared to be studying to become Engineers. I remember as if it were yesterday, as do my friends. Out in the freezing weather once again to think about these women, and about the lives all around us, as well as our own. Why has it been 30 years with such slow movement, even reversals on progress. This year though was different. We have a woman Mayor of this city for the first time. The city plaque that had been placed in this park, at the insistence of women, a park in which we remember these women who were killed and all women who have been violated by men, this original city plaque despite the efforts of women, made no mention that women had been targeted. This year, on the 30th anniversary, the new plaque replacing it, reads: 

Place du 6-Decembre-1989 

“Cette plaque a été nominee en memoire des 14 femmes assassinées l’ors de l’attentat antifeminist survenu a l’Ecole Polytechnique le 6 décembre 1989. Elle veut rappeler les values fondamentales de respect et d’égalité, et condamner toutes formes de violence a l’encontre des femmes”.

Translation

“This park has been named in the memory of the 14 women murdered during the anti-feminist attack that took place at École Polytechnique on December 6, 1989. It is a reminder of the fundamental values of respect and equality, and a condemnation of all forms of violence against women.”

The original plaque had sidestepped the reality of the intent of the killer, who separated the men students from the women, declared his hatred for feminists and opened fire on the women. It felt different this time that it is admitted that this attack was on women as feminists. I felt last night the way I do every year, the way I did when I first heard that these women had been killed. I felt the shock again, and questioned again why more has not been done to stop woman hatred nor to end the assumption that any man, in any way, has the right to order us around, harm us, kill us. I thought of how long we have been speaking this out as I listened to Government officials promise more, and my resolve to end this violence deepened again. I thought of the young woman recently raped and murdered by four men in their 20’s and wondered who had taught those young men. I thought of the girls struggling through childhoods, being refused school, of girls trying to escape violence, being abused. I thought of the widows. I thought of all of the stories here in my country that I have heard, all the years of promises made, all the shelters here painstakingly opened up in this period, and in the news yesterday stories of women waiting to escape here, with shelter beds full. And of women waiting for police or courts to provide safe ways out. I thought of women and girls being harmed every day, and of knowing that women are being told not to waste the time of police, and that many police are violent toward women too. The four of us stood together knowing all this. 

I felt my strength renew with my sisters here, who know what needs to be done and who like me will not stop. I am stronger here with all of you, with every story I read on World Pulse, knowing we are here with each other, and counting on news of everything being done to women and girls, as we form our network and create a global document of everything that needs to change. Knowing that here, we are women who dare to continue to speak. To name that we continue to be lied to, the insisting that life has always been this way, and that change takes time. Forced to glean our own history of women’s brilliance, still so hidden, the times and places throughout history and now, where our perspective was and is sought out and respected. We share the glimpses we have from dedicated women carrying stories, carrying proof of ceremony with women, sought out for our wisdom, our perspective, our love of our communities. We share the glimpse of times when a man would not think of violating a woman or girl. 

This year this new plaque was made stating definitively that there is hatred against feminists that needs to stop. Feminist, a word I have called myself for a very long time, a word that has led me to find sisters unafraid to identify as being dedicated to ending all forms of violence of and suppression of women and girls. This year new promises were made by politicians pledging to do more. Maybe this new plaque declaring boldly that violence against women exists, will embolden a woman seeing it. Maybe we have made a step forward. Maybe this year more men will step into teaching men and the next generation of boys to never harm a woman. This could have been done 50 years ago. With the local and global connectedness we have now, we continue to celebrate our finding each other here, our staying close over the years, and our determination and commitment to make this happen.

Last night we sent photos to each other, of us together, and of the 14 pillars of light sent out across this city in memory of the murdered women. Today I am sending out the news, knowing we are so many thousands now in touch with each other, knowing we are speaking out, declaring the thousands of changes that need to be made, showing each other our strength and beauty, girls proclaiming what they want in life, men beginning to teach the next generation of boys a different culture, one that respects women and believes in sharing equally, women bringing our wisdom forward, our trust in what we know is possible, our celebration in finding each other.

Every day I think about all of us, everywhere.

This story was submitted in response to #IStandWithHer.

Comments 21

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Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 07, 2019
Dec 07, 2019

Hello, Tam,

I truly enjoy reading your posts, and always I end up teary-eyed because I really feel your love for women all over the world. This resonates with me, "I thought of how long we have been speaking this out as I listened to Government officials promise more, and my resolve to end this violence deepened again. I thought of the young woman recently raped and murdered by four men in their 20’s and wondered who had taught those young men. I thought of the girls struggling through childhoods, being refused school, of girls trying to escape violence, being abused. I thought of the widows in Cameroon. I thought of all of the stories here in my country that I have heard, all the years of promises made, all the shelters here painstakingly opened up in this period, and in the news yesterday stories of women waiting to escape here, with shelter beds full. And of women waiting for police or courts to provide safe ways out."

Those have been my thoughts, too, especially these 16 Days of activism against gender-based violence. I am still finding the strength and words to write about the recent murder of a 16-year-old student in our country. I truly grieve what happened to her.

I'm so glad, after 30 years, and with a woman mayor, the plaque acknowledge the plight of how women struggle for equality. Maybe this is a good thing as we enter a new decade.

Thank you for your love and commitment, Tam! We stand with you! I love your photos, by the way. Are these three friends already in World Pulse?

Tamarack Verrall
Dec 11, 2019
Dec 11, 2019

Hi Karen,
I always feel so supported and encouraged by your messages. I still search for words to describe how grateful I am to have World Pulse offer this platform for us all to meet, know each other and work together. It has been a strange experience to reach a half century of this work and to still be hearing "change takes time". I am not naive about the enormity of the work we are facing, but I reject this as an excuse knowing it has been a platitude for all these years to essentially avoid change to keep control in place. My hope has soared in finding all my World Pulse sisters, and hearing such strong and clear younger voices from all over the world. These 3 friends have been with me here on this journey for a long time, and though not actively involved in World Pulse are very aware and continue to find ways to support me and everyone here.

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 13, 2019
Dec 13, 2019

Hello, Tam,

Awww, Thank you for your kind words. They mean a lot. Wow. I could imagine the hurdles you've faced throughout the years. I m grateful for World Pulse, too!

I'm glad you have your community of women by your side who fight with you offline, and you have us, too, in the online community. You have the best of both worlds. Have a great weekend ,dear Tam!

Marie Abanga
Dec 07, 2019
Dec 07, 2019

Dear Tam,

Thanks for sharing. Oh I feel the sadness of the hate and the senselessness of it all. I always ask out loud: Is there any man not born of a woman? How come they don't see their mother's faces in any of their victims?
I am going to maybe write about my mother before the campaign runs out, how I Stand with her especially because of all she went through, which is nothing when compared to what the women you write of went through.
c'est vraiment si triste.
We are in this together
light and love
Marie

Tamarack Verrall
Dec 11, 2019
Dec 11, 2019

Dear Marie,
I'd love to see your question ring out everywhere. I have been realizing what is behind the slow change, he hidden history of strongwomen women leaders, the resistance to a different world society. What has been put in place depends on women servitude, indentured labour, lack of money, fair payment for work, freedom of choice of work...a lot for men to lose. I do believe that by speaking out we are creating a different world. Yes, we are finally finding each other here and able to be in this together.
with love in sisterhood,
Tam

Rachana Singh
Dec 08, 2019
Dec 08, 2019

Dearest Tam..
Reading through your post and feeling the pain behind your words. I don't have much to say or to write. Only in the place of those 14 pillars of light if the responsible authorities have sent 14 perpetrators to the gallows, if 14 violent women abusers would have been prosecuted.. you and your friends would've felt a new lease of life. But trying to find hope despite of such hopelessness, helplessness.. I am really sorry for I can see you relentlessly working still after all the setback your dedicated friends and you keep going finding your ground. Here we had in India, the first woman President Mrs Pratibha Devisingh Patil and like an ornament she just adorned the office of President. We had big hopes although none of the action was taken. This is the reality of the government offices and the way politics plays its cards.
I am standing with you and with all the womenfolk out there. I believe in you cause I believe in myself as a woman who is a daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother.. mother to a 20 years old university going boy, my only son, who has learned listening to and respecting women by observing his own mother.. Mother being his first teacher.. a mother who is ready to accept the first blame if her only child acted wrong in any way.
Love you so much Tam.. keep writing please, for you bring a sense of balance to all the chaos and disorder we experience.

Rachana

Tamarack Verrall
Dec 11, 2019
Dec 11, 2019

Dear Rachana,
Your words made my heart full: "I believe in you cause I believe in myself". This is what I love about World Pulse, to be able to begin touch with women like you, who believe in yourself, women who are equally determined to end the violence and create change.
This violence was done in a few minutes by one single man who resented women getting into a school he was not accepted into. He felt that women were taking the place that he would have been offered. It was later found out that he had a list of 15 more feminist women in this city who he was planning to kill. Many of us had been working for years at that point to get shelters opened, and to address the amount of violence against women. This is why he decided that feminists were the "enemy". You are raising a son who has learned early to respect women for all we do. This is so important and so encouraging. Thank you for your strong support. It means a lot.
Big hug,
Tam

Jill Langhus
Dec 09, 2019
Dec 09, 2019

Hello Tam,

How are you doing, dear? Thanks for sharing your lovely photo and update. I so admire the fire in your belly and heart:-) I'm loving this new mayor, too. How long is she in office? I hope others admire her drive and commitment to women, too, and that she isn't being harassed?

Hope you're doing well, and having a great Monday!

XX

Tamarack Verrall
Dec 11, 2019
Dec 11, 2019

Hi Jill,
Lovely as always to hear from you. The fire in my belly is so well fed these days knowing we are everywhere working together now. I actually cried when i got to vote for Valerie Plante as our new mayor as Montreal mayors have been famous for graft and corruption through "brown envelope" passing of money. We stand with Valerie knowing she must be under big pressures, as she does politics "the ethical and strong woman way". I can barely imagine all she must have been facing in her first year. She seems to be continuing strong and well.
Hugs to you,
Tam

Jill Langhus
Dec 11, 2019
Dec 11, 2019

Hi Tam,

:-) I bet! Yes, she's one strong woman, for sure!

XX

lizzymark
Dec 09, 2019
Dec 09, 2019

Hi Tam,this is so beautiful it shows your heart for women. Hope you are well thanks for shearing.

Tamarack Verrall
Dec 11, 2019
Dec 11, 2019

Hi Lizzy,
I celebrate that we are on this path together. I am well knowing we are finding each other and building this together.

Anita Shrestha
Dec 10, 2019
Dec 10, 2019

Thank you very much

Tamarack Verrall
Dec 11, 2019
Dec 11, 2019

Thanks Anita for sending your words. I am so glad to be here in World Pulse together.

ANJ ANA
Dec 10, 2019
Dec 10, 2019

Dearest Tam
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Every time you amaze me and touch my inner heart with your sharings. A sincere tribute to the 14 women. Good to know about the replacement of new plaque commemorating the 30th anniversary and also the news on women mayor onboard for the first time.
Sure, we are louder now and hope the changes will be happening soon for equality.
Thank you for accommodating us in your thoughts every day and everywhere, together we can achieve our goals.
I love your cute adorable smile captured in the photo with your friend.
love and regards,
Anjana

Tamarack Verrall
Dec 11, 2019
Dec 11, 2019

Dear Anjana,
Thank you for your solid support, it means a lot to me and encourages me deeply. The new plaque has meant a lot to women across Canada as this 30 years memorial took place, as it names the woman hatred for what it was, and makes it clear that as feminists we so often face verbal and physical violence for speaking out for women's rights, even as basic as the right not to be violated.
it is true that you are all in my thoughts daily. It is you who keep me determined to create change.
That smile was the happiness that I was able to be with my close long time activist friends for such a sad occasion. They all had to dry their tears for the photo. Our love and happiness with each other took over.
Love in sisterhood,
Tam

Wusufor
Dec 10, 2019
Dec 10, 2019

Dear Aunty Tam,
First of all I loved to give credit to the one who shot or took the picture. It very nicely took, especially how you stood in solidarity.
Pictures give us interpretation and I see the interpretation of solidarity. You stood in line, amazing!

This is what world pulse is all about and since I met you here you have been projecting this image. Keep projecting the image of sisterhood.

On the main topic, honestly I think globally women are gradually been appreciated for their roles in the society.
It's a great effort for the plague to have been projected on behalf of these innocent women. I didn't know or heard about these women but you have revealed it to us.
Thanks very much for your continuous support in sisterhood.
Have a great week ahead.
Hugs

Tamarack Verrall
Dec 11, 2019
Dec 11, 2019

A young woman asked if she could take our photo for us, and one of my friends gave her a button from the first anniversary of that killing spree. It meant a lot to us to have that moment documented as we have stood together in so many ways, for so many years.
This is the same closeness I feel now within World Pulse and it makes my heart soar, and gives me such hope that together we are creating such needed and beautiful change. Thank you for your heartfelt support, Lizzy. It means a lot.
Hugs to you,
Tam

Wusufor
Dec 11, 2019
Dec 11, 2019

You are welcome dearest Aunty Tam. I observed you and your message of solidarity from the distance. You really have an honest heart toward world pulse sisterhood.
You are a hero. Keep up the hard work and for grooming the younger sisters rather than separating them.
Sending you much warm
Hugs '-)

Marie-Eve
Jan 24
Jan 24

Hello Tamarack,

I just joined World Pulse, and your post is the first I have read. Thank you for sharing this. I am French-Canadian, and I was a child when this horrid event took place in Montreal. But I grew up with it, and it has fed my desire to support women all my life. Your post was wonderful to read, and I agree that the way the event unfolded in December, with the circumstances you describe, was extremely powerful, and way past overdue. The important thing is that it finally happened, perhaps right at the time it was needed the most given the changes happening in the world right now (especially with our neighbors to the South, and how their anti-women stance seems to be, in some ways, rising up to Quebec). I am comforted by your sisterhood and solidarity, and only wish I could have been present. I now live in Portland, OR in the US, and can only send my support, and live these moments vicariously through people like you. Thank you!

Blanche Yamba-Cordero

Dear Tam,

Thank you for sharing this story. Thank you for sending out the news to all of us. And yes! we share this moment to bring out the best in us and create a huge impact on the lives of all who were enslaved with fear, disrespect, discrimination, and injustices. It is very heartwarming to read your post as I reflect and I realize that even before we came here, we are all connected already in spirit. In how we view things. In how we respond to violence against women. In how we strongly desire to connect with people who will share our same vision. And here we are, making one step at a time, holding on to one another, renewing commitment with each other, inspiring and motivating each other to do what needs to be done, while drawing inner strength to face whatever challenges we have.

And I would like to quote your words, "This year new promises were made by politicians pledging to do more. Maybe this new plaque declaring boldly that violence against women exists will embolden a woman seeing it. Maybe we have made a step forward. Maybe this year more men will step into teaching men and the next generation of boys to never harm a woman. This could have been done 50 years ago. With the local and global connectedness we have now, we continue to celebrate our finding each other here, our staying close over the years, and our determination and commitment to make this happen."

While we are here, there is hope that what we dream will happen.

Looking forward to reading more of your post! Regards!