Madam Speaker, I rise on this solemn occasion to commemorate a horrific tragedy, the memory of the École Polytechnique massacre, which took place on this day 33 years ago. It is still etched in the minds of millions of people who will never forget this act of femicide.
Let me begin by paying tribute to the women who were murdered on December 6, 1989: 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.
These women had big dreams. They dreamt of becoming engineers, a male-dominated profession, especially at that time. Their dreams and their lives were stolen by a man poisoned by misogynistic hate, a man who, as he opened fire, shouted, “You are all feminists”. They were killed because they were women. They were killed because they dared to pursue a career in an overwhelmingly male field.
They were killed by an act of violent misogyny. Thirty years later, violence born of misogyny, toxic masculinity and racism is still killing women and gender-diverse people across the country. Every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner. In 2021, 173 women and girls were killed by violence, up from 160 the year before. Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people continue to go missing or be murdered at alarming rates.
Five days before the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, we received news about another unspeakable femicide.
Three more indigenous women, Morgan Harris, Marcedes Myran and a third woman, whom the elders have asked us to call Buffalo Woman until her family can be found, were murdered by an alleged serial killer in Winnipeg who was also charged with the murder of Rebecca Contois in May 2022.
It is part of what the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the Prime Minister have described as an ongoing genocide.
As with the perpetrator of the Polytechnique massacre, what we know about this alleged serial killer is that he too was poisoned by hatred. A review of his social media activity revealed posts that promoted violence, misogyny, anti-Semitism and white supremacy.
Once again we were witnessing the fatal consequences of a growing far-right extremism.
While our country reels from this enormous loss, the Winnipeg Police Service declared that it would not undertake a search for the remains of the three precious sisters believed to be located in the Brady landfill.
I understand this might not be feasible but, at the very least, they need to stop dumping trash in the landfill so our loved ones can rest in peace and undisturbed.
What message does that callous decision send to indigenous women, to survivors, to the families of victims? It says that we are less than, that our lives have been deemed not valuable, that our ongoing genocide has been normalized and that it has been so normalized that it is not even considered an emergency in the House.
We should not have to plead for our safety, to be taken seriously or for our families to be given the closure they deserve. We need to be provided with resources because we deserve closure. The federal government must heed the calls of survivors, advocates and community leaders by providing immediate funding to stop this genocide, and provide the resources to search for the remains of our precious sisters, wherever they may be.
This is a human rights crisis. When faced with a crisis, we do not ignore it. We must act. While today is a day of remembrance, it is also a day of action. I urge the federal government and all governments in Canada to heed this call to action by taking urgent steps to stop this violence.
We will never forget the 14 women whose lives were taken 33 years ago. We will never forget the four indigenous women, and all the indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people whose lives were taken earlier this year and in past decades. In their cherished memory, we will renew our efforts to end gender-based violence once and for all.