SUMMERSIDE: This December 6 marks the 23 anniversary the Montreal Massacre where fourteen women were gunned down at their engineering school, simply because they were women. Island labour leaders were joined by Paul Moist, the National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees at Summerside’s Montreal Massacre monument yesterday to mark the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
“Organized labour has been engaged for many years in the struggle to end violence against women,” said Carl Pursey, President of the PEI Federation of Labour. “We see the impact of abuse on workers in our workplaces, as the attack on women spills over into all aspects of their lives and sets up roadblocks to their full and equal participation in society.”
PEI has known its own share of violence against women. Just weeks before that tragedy, a young Island mother of three was shot dead by her estranged husband in Summerside. Since 1989, eight more women have been murdered on PEI by men they knew.
“The Montreal Massacre was a horrific wake-up call for Canadians,” says Lori MacKay, CUPE PEI President. “I was a university student at the time, like most of the murdered women. It changed who I am and fueled my commitment to making a difference. It saddens me deeply that even today, women continue to be abused and killed in acts of intimate partner violence here on PEI and throughout our country. Front-line services such as emergency housing are still in high demand and yet lack adequate government funding.”
“Violence against women is part of a larger problem of women’s inequality,” says CUPE National President Paul Moist. “Every day of the week, union members and activists work on the front line to prevent violence against women. We will continue this work and hold our governments accountable for progress made, or lack of it, in ending violence against women and girls.”
The monument, funded by union members through the PEI Federation of Labour, gives Islanders a permanent place to reflect on violence against women, notes Melissa Bruce, the Federation’s Vice-President for Women’s Issues. “First mourn, then work for change” is a motto that inspires us to renew our commitment to create a better world.”
Paul Moist was in Summerside to attend the CUPE PEI All President’s meeting. Local union leaders meet yearly to discuss a wide range of issues affecting members and their communities.
CUPE is Canada’s largest union, representing about 625,000 workers across Canada in health care, education, municipalities, libraries, universities, social services, public utilities, transportation, emergency services and airlines. CUPE PEI represents about 3,000 public sector workers.
The PEI Federation of Labour is the Island’s largest central labour body representing approximately 6,000 members of both public sector and private sector labour unions.