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Vancouver, Toronto, Edmonton, and Montreal – December 16, 2019 – Across the country, UFCW Canada activists stepped up to raise awareness at various Shoe Memorials and events to commemorate the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
At the memorials, participants gave pairs of women's boots and shoes to be donated to women's emergency shelters throughout Canada. The footwear will go to women and children who have escaped violent households.
The first-ever Shoe Memorial was held in Vancouver in 2003 to commemorate the 14 female students who were murdered at Montreal's École Polytechnique in 1989, as well as thousands of other women in Canada who have been victims of violence and murder. Since then, citizens across the country have joined the Shoe Memorial effort to honour women who have lost their lives, as well as those who have survived gender-based violence.
In Vancouver, activists from UFCW Local 247 and UFCW 1518, together with community members and volunteers, once again participated in the annual Shoe Memorial on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery, where UFCW member and shop steward Sharon Tuerlings spoke about the grief of dealing with the unsolved murder of her younger sister.
In the Toronto area, UFCW Local 1006A members and allies gathered at the Local Union’s head office in Vaughan to remember the victims of the École Polytechnique massacre and honour those who have experienced gender-based violence. As well, members wore “End Violence Against Women & Girls” shirts and distributed information cards in their workplaces to send a message that sexual and domestic violence is #NotOkay.
In Edmonton, UFCW Local 401 activists joined the Alberta Federation of Labour for their 30th Anniversary Commemorative Brunch, which featured performances from The Ancient Jammers and spoken word poet Shima Aisha Robinson. All funds raised at the event were donated to the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters to support Indigenous women and on-reserve shelters.
In Montreal, UFCW members and staff attended a commemorative exhibition at Concordia University on December 13, where participants were accompanied by Alain Lachaîne, President of UFCW 501 and Secretary-Treasurer of the UFCW Quebec Provincial Council; Robert Sévigny, Secretary Treasurer of UFCW 501; Anouk Collet, Executive Assistant to the UFCW Canada National President; Giuseppe Boccardi, Social and Community Officer at the SPVM; Chantal Gobeil, Executive Director of the Arrêt-Source; and Marina Boulos, Executive Director of the Chez Doris shelter, to whom the pairs of shoes and boots were given.
In addition to supporting numerous Shoe Memorials and December 6 events from coast to coast, UFCW Canada and its Local Unions also participated in the 16 Days of Action initiative throughout November and December. As part of the campaign, activists from across Canada shared images and videos on social media relaying their stance against gender-based violence between November 25 and December 10.