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Can’t let our guard down, downtown violence against women vigil reminded

Single paper roses were gingerly placed in a gardening pail in Spirit Square Friday afternoon to commemorate Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

About 27 Campbell Riverites braved the freezing temperatures to take part in a vigil for the young female engineering students who were gunned down at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal on Dec. 6, 1989.

Gunman Marc Lepine killed 14 women and wounded 13 others, mostly women, during his shooting rampage before shooting and killing himself.

At Friday’s ceremony, people took turns reading a short script describing each of the late women’s hopes and dreams. Most were tragically only days away from graduation and already had their first jobs lined up. They never made it.

Mayor Walter Jakeway, who spoke as a special guest, said the day of remembrance is an opportunity to remember and to ensure the event doesn’t repeat itself.

“It’s certainly a day to reflect on what went on and let’s make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Jakeway said. “We’ve got to focus on it. Don’t ever let it go away (because) one person is too many to lose.”

Valery Puetz, executive director of the Campbell River and North Island Transition Society, said the day also brings to mind tragedies a bit closer to home – the staggering number of women who have been killed or have gone missing along the stretch of Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert as well as the women who have disappeared from Vancouver’s poorest district.

“We remember the missing women along the Highway of Tears and we also remember the missing women on the Downtown East Side,” Puetz said. “It’s also a day communities can consider taking concrete actions to eliminate violence against women.”

North Island MLA Claire Trevena, said the province as a whole needs to step up and improve conditions for women.

“We’ve got a pretty shameful record here in B.C.,” Trevena said. “We’ve all got to do so much better.”

The short vigil concluded with a minute of silence and the placing of the paper roses before everyone went their own separate ways into the cold.

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