Mr. Speaker, it is a great privilege for me to be here, on traditional Algonquin territory.
On this day in 1989, 28 years ago, 13 female students and a female administrator at the École polytechnique de Montréal were tragically murdered simply because they were women.
On this day in 1989, 13 young women and a female administrator at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal were tragically murdered simply because they were women. The shooter walked into the engineering school, into the classrooms, and separated the women from the men, not to spare the women but because he was directly targeting them as feminists. Twenty-eight years later, Canadians continue to come together to remember and mourn this tragic loss.
Today, from coast to coast to coast, candles will be lit, roses will be laid, and tears will be shed as the names of these 14 young women remind us that gender-based violence is still a reality for far too many. The shocking impact of the Montreal massacre shook our country, immobilized Canadians, and led Parliament to designate December 6 as a day to remember the potential we lost with these young women's deaths.
Annually, this day falls during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. It starts with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25 and ends with international Human Rights Day on December 10. Today, the names of these 14 young women will be echoed across the country.
Today we honour those 14 women who were so needlessly taken from their loved ones in 1989. They are Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte, and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz.
Today we recognize the ongoing tragic impacts of gender-based violence, and we honour those victims whose names and stories we may never know, and the families and communities devastated by these tragedies.
To those who are still vulnerable, such as members of the LGBTQ2 communities, indigenous women and girls, newcomers, and women with disabilities and exceptionalities, we will not tolerate discrimination and violence. To those Canadians who lost someone on December 6, to survivors and families of those impacted by gender-based violence, we know that these senseless murders have their roots in misogyny and have placed feminism under attack, and yet they have contributed to this moment in our history when feminism is something we are proud of.
While we cannot change the story of those 14 young women, we remember them and reaffirm our resolve to do better, and to be better, for the women and girls with us today and tomorrow. We know there is still much work to do. The need is made evident through the recent #MeToo movement, but there is hope. Il y a de l'espoir. There is hope for a future where we are all respected, where violence is not accepted, where women and girls are secure with choices and opportunities to pursue their dreams.
To support this vision, our government is working with Canadians to build an inclusive, respectful society by stepping up and speaking out to stop gender-based violence. We thank those who mobilize and who provide support, healing, shelter, and much-needed advocacy. We invite Canadians to share what they will do to end this violence by using the hashtag #MYActionsMatter and to take the pledge that 38,000 voices have taken to date to help end gender-based violence.
We are acting through the first federal strategy to address and prevent gender-based violence, through the challenging but important work of a national inquiry into what happened to our stolen sisters, through a national housing strategy that recognizes that housing is a social determinant of violence, and through investments in shelter spaces across the country.
We each have a responsibility to stand up against misogyny, sexism, and hate, and it starts by creating a culture of respect. This means engaging everyone, including men and boys. Together we can honour the lives lost on December 6, 1989 by working to prevent this violence before it begins.
There are white roses on the desks of MPs in this House, and I hope you get one too, Mr. Speaker. These roses are symbols of the actions and the power each of us have, not just inside this House but outside, to be part of the solution.
We are living in important times. Every day, every week, and as recently as this week, survivors of gender-based violence are coming together, speaking as one, standing shoulder to shoulder. They are finding their voice and their courage through one another. We thank them and say to them that we believe in them, that we will stand with them always.
Today we mark our country's enduring connection to 14 women who were silenced while pursuing their dreams. We cannot change their story, but we can honour their memory and ensure that every Canadian woman and girl has an opportunity to pursue her dreams without the threat of gender-based violence.