Vigil for murdered women

A large group of people braved the cold Thursday night by the Sails in downtown Kelowna to remember the 14 women murdered 29 years ago in Montreal's École Polytechnique massacre, along with dozens of others who've been killed in the Okanagan.

The annual vigil to end violence against all women is held in communities across Canada on Dec. 6, the day a man walked into Montreal's École Polytechnique in 1989 and murdered 14 women.

“He went into the engineering school and separated the men from the women and shot all the women,” said Olivia Hofer, one of the organizers of the Kelowna vigil. “It was a very clear act of gender-based violence and one of the first ones that our Canadian government recognized as such.”

The names of the 14 women were read aloud Thursday as roses were laid down in their memory. The names of upwards of 80 local women who have been killed or went missing were also read, and additional roses were laid down.

“We really want to remember these women, who they were, what their lives were like and to not forget their names because every year we're continuing to add more and we want to make sure that violence against women is ultimately ended,” Hofer said.

The names of Clara Forman and her two daughters Karina and Yesenia were added to the list of names read out at this year's event, after they were murdered in December of last year. Clara's husband, Jacob Forman, has been charged in their murders.

Hofer said it was good to see men out at Thursday's event.

“Ultimately it's male behaviour and our gender norms and our culture that needs to change so hopefully that's something that's starting to shift with the Me Too Movement and people are starting to be able to speak out and be heard and it's so important that people are believed when they tell these stories,” she said.

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