Every year on 6 December, the students at Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute hold a moment of silence in acknowledgement of the fourteen women who were murdered at Polytechnique Montréal in 1989. [1] We observe White Ribbon Day to reflect on and raise awareness of the prevalence of misogyny in our modern-day world. 

The École Polytechnique massacre, commonly known as the Montreal Massacre, took place at the École Polytechnique engineering school in Montreal. Fourteen women were murdered while ten were injured as a result of a targeted antifeminist mass shooting. The male shooter first entered a classroom and instructed the men and women to separate into two groups. He ordered the men to leave the room, and then, claiming that he was fighting feminism, shot at the nine women remaining. He continued through the school, targeting and shooting several more women, before he eventually turned the gun on himself.

Though this gruesome event occurred over thirty years ago, gender-based violence is still very much prevalent in our society today. On average, a woman is killed by her intimate partner every six days. [2] A 2016 Safety and Health at Work study showed that over fifty percent of the female participants had gone through at least one experience of an abusive act at or near their workplace. [3] And even now, one in three women will experience physical or sexual violence at least once in their lifetime. [4] These statistics all point to the same problem: they revolve around the hatred towards women, leading to violence. This is exactly what the White Ribbon Campaign aims to fix. The campaign strives to create a more inclusive environment for all, with people of every background working together towards a more equitable society. Anyone can join and make a contribution to eliminating violence against women. In response to the Montreal Massacre, White Ribbon day was born, followed soon by the White Ribbon pledge.

On 6 December 2021, MGCI held an event during lunch in front of the library where male students were offered the opportunity to sign the White Ribbon pledge, a public pledge aiming to eliminate gender-based violence. Participants promised to never “commit, condone[,] or stay silent about violence against women.” [5] They were also offered ways through which they could actively contribute to the end of gender-based violence, from talking about the importance of gender equality with other men, to sharing feminist calls to action on social media platforms. 

Students signing the White Ribbon pledge. Photo by Helen Lin.

This event garnered the attention of many students. Andy Chai, a Grade 10 student who signed the pledge, said, “The pledge brings awareness to an important systemic issue. My promise provides me with accountability for my actions and will reflect on the way I choose to act around others.” 

With more and more people acknowledging and spreading awareness about the importance of gender equality, the future of gender-based violence is looking brighter. The White Ribbon pledge plays an important role in the perspective people take on in such a world of inequality. “I hope that in the future, boys will think about the way they respond to and interact with girls and women,” said Mr. Langford. “Hopefully, twenty years from now, if they’re in a situation where they feel they may be angry to the point of violence, they will remember the pledge they took today.”

You can support the campaign and sign the pledge here: https://www.whiteribbon.ca/pledge.html 

 

[1] https://women-gender-equality.canada.ca/en/commemorations-celebrations/16-days/national-day-remembrance.html 

[2] https://canadianwomen.org/the-facts/gender-based-violence/ 

[3] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2093791116000044?via%3Dihub

[4] https://www.who.int/news/item/09-03-2021-devastatingly-pervasive-1-in-3-women-globally-experience-violence 

[5] https://www.whiteribbon.ca/pledge.html