Agape House held a commemorative service that reflected on the 1989 Polytechnique school shooting this past Thursday.
Carrie Bilawchuk, a crisis support worker for Agape House in Steinbach explains the day’s significance: “December 6th marks the 29th anniversary of the Polytechnique shooting in Montreal in which a 25-year-old man walked into a classroom, separated the men from the women and proceeded to go on a shooting rampage. He shot 28 girls, 14 of whom lost their lives.”
The service took place at the Red River College in Steinbach and included the lighting of candles for each individual who lost their lives to this hate crime.
Though this tragedy happened many years ago, Bilawchuk reasons that it still has relevance today. “Women and children are still being sexually exploited, killed by their loved ones, and abused in atrocious ways. Until that stops, we can’t stop fighting.”
Bilawchuk indicates that Manitoba has had 12 women murdered in the past year from similar acts of gender-based violence. For her, this is a very real statistic as she has personally been acquainted with three people who have been murdered as a result of gender-based brutality from their loved ones.
Agape House receives up to 1000 crisis calls every year either from women experiencing domestic violence or from family members who have questions. According to Bilawchuk, this number is currently on the rise.
Bilawchuk encourages anyone in the community facing violence, however small it may seem, to seek help.