UPDATE: Remembering the massacre in Montreal

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Several dozen advocates for decreased violence against women met Thursday night on the anniversary of one of Canada's most despicable acts of wanton criminality.

The Cornwall and District Labour Council hosted a rally that brought together community stakeholders and members of the public to reflect on the massacre of 14 women that took place at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal in 1989.

"I can't help but think things have improved since polytechnique," said Elaine MacDonald, president of the labour council. "But women will only be safe when they have equality. Economic equality and poltiical equality."

"A woman is never really safe until she can pay her own way."

The event took place Thursday evening at Pommier Court downtown. It followed an evening of remembrance that took place Wednesday night at the Nav Centre, which was hosted by SASS Cornwall and Interlude House.

Melissa Hatch, executive director of SASS Cornwall, said while events surrounding the anniversary of the massacre typically concern all acts of violence against women, there's no doubt that in this region, domestic abuse and sex assault rank at the top of the list of specific attacks on women.

She added while statistics show there have been no cases of domestic homicide locally in the last 10 years, the same cannot be said for domestic abuse and sex crimes.

"Baldwin House, Naomi's Family Resource Centre in Winchester, Interlude House - they're all very busy," she said, adding it's still difficult to say just how many cases take place in a specific region because numbers are so hard to track. "Oddly enough, it's not something that's researched enough."

But, there are some numbers available. A domestic violence committee created by the Ontario Coroner's office suggests between 2002 and 2009 there were 203 cases of domestic violence that resulted in 295 deaths. But, these are only cases tha were reported. There are still hundreds more that go unreported.

"I can only speculate as to why the government does not compile more stats on this," said Hatch.

The point of events like those this week are to create dialogue surrounding the subject and draw awareness.

"When you see something, get involved, ask a question and show some concern," said Hatch.

The Montreal Massacre occurred on Dec. 6, 1989 at the École Polytechnique in Montreal. Twenty-five-year-old Marc Lépine, armed with a legally obtained mini-14 rifle and a hunting knife, shot 28 people before killing himself. In all, 14 women were killed, sparking outrage in Canada and around the world. Lepine was specifically targeting women.

Organizations: Cornwall and Interlude House, École Polytechnique de Montréal

Geographic location: Montreal, Canada

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