On December 6, 1989, a 25-year-old man named Marc Lépine burst into l’École Polytechnique de Montréal with an assault rifle and killed 14 women in cold blood.

Their deaths shocked a nation and, in 1991, sparked the Canadian Parliament to designate December 6 as a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

Every year since then, December 6 has been a day to remember the victims of that heinous act and to reflect on the fact that even now, 29 years later, women and girls in Canada – of all social, economic, and cultural groups – continue to be subjected to violence at alarming rates.

For instance:

Given these statistics, December 6 needs to be more than just a day of remembrance and reflection. It must also be a day of action for people throughout Saskatchewan and across the country. Individuals, groups, and communities have a responsibility to raise awareness, to speak out, and to develop concrete plans to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.

Here in Saskatchewan, we have a long, proud history of human rights, but more can be done. More must be done. Gender-based violence prevents full and equal participation in public life, it damages women’s mental and physical health, has a negative effect on the economy, and is detrimental to our society as a whole. It is imperative for all citizens to work together to make sure that the promise of equality, one day, becomes a reality for every women and every girl.