Okanagan College’s Vernon and Salmon Arm campuses will once again be aglow with candlelight on Dec. 6, as a symbolic commitment to end violence against women.
Communities in the Okanagan and Shuswap are marking the 33rd anniversary of the École Polytechnique Massacre, in addition to the ongoing cases of missing women from the region, with a Candlelight Vigil on Tuesday, Dec. 6 co-hosted by a network of organizations and volunteers.
The event is a collaboration by Okanagan College, Okanagan College Students’ Union (OCSU), Vernon Students’ Association of OC (VSAOC) and the SAFE Society.
On Dec. 6, 1989, an armed man walked into a classroom at Polytechnique Montréal, separated the male students from the females, and killed 14 women. Now known as the École Polytechnique Massacre, the attack stunned the country and sent shockwaves throughout the entire world, prompting discussion about access and inclusion of women in post-secondary education. For more than 30 years, post-secondary institutions have held vigils and ceremonies to remember.
Families in the region know, however, that the acts of violence are not artefacts of history. Candlelight vigils in the regions have grown in attendance throughout the years as more people learn how Indigenous women are more likely to experience violence than non-Indigenous women – and as people in the community experience this tragedy for themselves, with several women missing from Salmon Arm, Enderby and Vernon.
“Sadly, we know violence against women persists in our communities,” said Meri Kim Oliver, Vice President Students at Okanagan College. “Okanagan College stands in solidarity with survivors of violence, and with the families and friends of murdered and missing women in our communities.”
“Our sincere hope is that this event once again can offer an opportunity for reflection, remembrance and healing,” adds Oliver. “We also recognize that members of our own learning community may experience difficult emotions on this day, and in the days that follow. We encourage students and employees to reach out to the supports available through the College and in the community.”
The events are open to the community. All are welcome.
In Salmon Arm, attendees are invited to gather on campus at 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 6. Food will be served in the cafeteria at 5 p.m. The vigil will take place in the courtyard at 6:30.
In Vernon, attendees are invited to gather in the cafeteria (Kal View Café) at 4 p.m. The outdoor vigil will begin at 4:45 p.m.
More information is available on the Salmon Arm and Vernon events pages. Given the difficult nature of the event, a special resources section has been established on the pages, which includes links to community services, interventions and crisis support.