Dec. 6 vigil in Iqaluit will honour victims of violence
“We have a duty to acknowledge the violence in our community"
If you’ve lost someone you knew and loved to family violence, or want to honour any victim of violence, remember them by laying a rose in their memory at a Dec. 6 vigil that will take place at Inuksuk High School in Iqaluit.
The date, Dec. 6, marks an annual day of remembrance and action on violence against women, created in memory of 14 female engineering students who were shot down by a gunman at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique in 1989.
The Iqaluit vigil, a partnership between Qulliit Nunavut Status of Women Council, YWCA Aggvik Nunavut and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, aims to raise awareness in the community about violence against women, and to honour Nunavut women who have died by violent means, Sandra Inutiq, Qulliit’s executive director said.
The event isn’t just for people who’ve lost family members. It’s also for those who haven’t, because “we have a duty to acknowledge the violence in our community,” Inutiq said.
And that’s why it’s important for everybody to take part in the vigil, she added.
The vigil is especially relevant given how often violent incidents take place in Nunavut, she said.
“This year has been a really hard year, there have been so many cases before the courts, really horrific cases,” Inutiq said, citing the recent death of an Igloolik woman and the sentencing of a Repulse Bay woman who shot and killed her husband.
“Right now the issue seems very much in our faces. Violence in Nunavut is very high compared to the rest of the country,” Inutiq said.
While violent crimes are decreasing in the rest of Canada, violent crimes are increasing in Nunavut, and most often the target of those crimes are women and children.
Nunavut’s spousal abuse rate of reported cases is more than six times the national rate, and, in 90 per cent of these cases, women are the victims of abuse, Inutiq said.
However, violence against women is not only a women’s issue, “it’s a Nunavut issue, it’s a community issue,” she said.
There will be children laying roses at the vigil because “our children are the ones most affected and whose future[s] are the ones that are most at stake,” Inutiq said.
The keynote speaker will be Iqaluit resident Ellen Hamilton, who will also sing her “Women’s Song.”
Counsellors will attend the vigil because thinking about violence can prove difficult for some people, Inutiq said.
Similar vigils are planned to take place in Rankin Inlet at the Catholic meeting hall at 6:30 p.m. and in Baker Lake at the Recreation Centre at 8 p.m.