It has been 34 years since a gunman massacred 14 women at Montreal’s École Polytechnique. In Kelowna on Wednesday evening, red roses and lit candles were left on the steps of the courthouse to mark National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence and Women.
A march of remembrance made its way from the Rotary Centre for the Arts to the courthouse, where people laid the flowers bearing nametags of murdered women.
Several local women were among the names, including Brianna Jankauskas, who was killed in an alleged domestic dispute earlier this year, and Danielle Francis Larson, who was murdered in Glenrosa in 2006. Someone even left a rose in the name of Mahsa Amini. She was the young Iranian woman whose death last year after she was arrested by morality police for alleged non-compliance with the country’s mandatory hijab rules sparked a wave of protests throughout that country and around the world.
In Montreal, a father who travelled from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. to commemorate the École Polytechnique anniversary called on senators to pass new gun control legislation as quickly as possible. Brian Sweeney’s daughter was fatally shot by her former partner.
"I came here for this because of the recent incident with my family, and to support the other victims here that have been suffering for a lot longer than myself," he told The Canadian Press prior to the ceremony.
"I just believe that it's time the government stepped up and started doing more control over the gun issues," he said. "When people don't qualify for a gun, they should never be able to get one."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who attended Wednesday's event alongside Quebec Premier François Legault and other dignitaries, said there is a duty to remember the women who were killed "just because they were women."
"We have a responsibility to reflect that there has been some progress over the past 34 years, but not enough," Trudeau told reporters. "There's still so much more work to do to make sure that everyone is safe in their home, (that) women are safe from gender-based violence."
In a letter sent this week to members of the upper chamber, Sweeney urged senators to adopt the legislation known as Bill C-21.
The bill would usher in new measures to keep firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers, reinforce a freeze on handguns, increase penalties for firearm trafficking and move to curb homemade ghost guns. The bill also includes a ban on assault-style firearms that fall under a new technical definition. It would apply to such guns designed and manufactured after the bill comes into force.
-with files from The Canadian Press