YWCA marks the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women
On December 6, Canadians mark the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. This day falls on the anniversary of the act of horrific femicide at Polytechnique Montréal, when 14 women were killed in an act of violent misogyny.
This nationwide moment of advocacy has two components: Remembrance and Action. And so, on December 6, we remember Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte, and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz – all of whom lost their lives simply because they were women. We also remember the countless women who have lost their lives as a result of gender-based violence, here in Canada, and around the world.
But as we remember, we also must act. Gender-based violence is not an abstract concept that only affects other cities, provinces, and nations – it happens in Hamilton, in our streets, workplaces, schools, and neighbourhoods.
However, the stark reality here in Hamilton is that women, gender-diverse people, and families face huge barriers when it comes to accessing services. There simply aren’t enough shelter and transitional housing spaces in Hamilton to meet current demand, and service providers like YWCA Hamilton are constantly turning women away due to a lack of space.
According to Inasmuch House, our community partner which provides shelter for women and nonbinary people experiencing violence or homelessness, more than 2,300 could not access violence against women shelters due to a lack of space in 2021. This means that women, gender-diverse people, and families are forced to stay with their abusers, and face the constant threat of danger.
At YWCA Hamilton, we are committed to addressing this crisis. We are currently in the process of purchasing a property with the intention of developing a 90-bed transitional housing space for women, gender-diverse people, and families. Of these 90 units, 30 would be reserved for families with children, while 60 would be for single women and gender-diverse people.
However, we can’t embark on this vital and life-saving project without support from all three levels of government. We are actively advocating for all elected officials to help us support survivors of violence, and to help us provide the services our city so desperately needs to help us end the crisis in the women’s housing and homelessness sector in Hamilton.
On December 6th, we are calling for much-needed supports to ensure that all women, gender-diverse people, and families are safe. We can only end gender-based violence if we work together.