Holding roses and candles, people gathered in Toronto on Tuesday to honour 14 women who were murdered at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal 33 years ago.
The candlelight vigil paid respects not only to the women gunned down by Marc Lépine that day, in an attack known as the Montreal Massacre, but also to all women around the world who have been murdered by men. The vigil was organized by a group called, Women Won't Forget.
More than 50 people listened to speakers and music at Philosopher's Walk, south of Bloor Street and west of Avenue Road, on the University of Toronto campus.
"Each year we pray that we won't have to come back here again and add names," Laureen Blu Waters, a two-spirit community elder, told the crowd.
"I wish I could say that was what was going to happen today but it's not. Senseless killings with senseless reasons," Blu Waters said.
"We have to speak out each and every day and we have to represent those and remember those who have lost their lives to violence so that we can make a difference moving forward."
Behind the speakers, small yellow signs displayed names of women who have been killed. Dec. 6 is a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
Shirley Gillett, an organizer of the vigil, said ending violence against women involves working together and pushing for systemic change.
"We've got to find a way to end violence against women," she said.
"It has to be a sea change in people's attitudes about what violence against women is and not supporting it and speaking out when they see the attitudes. There's been so many studies that have shown that it doesn't start with the violence, it starts with the negative attitudes toward women."
In the past year, at least 50 women in Ontario were murdered because of their gender, according to the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Homes.
'Women's rights are universal,' activist says
Participants at the vigil said they want to bring attention to violence against women all over the world, pointing to recent protests for women's rights in Iran.
"I'm here for all women globally," Homa Arjomand, a Iranian-Canadian Activist, told CBC Toronto during the vigil.
"Wherever women are fighting, I'm there. We should be there, everyone should be there. Woman's rights are universal."
Earlier on Tuesday, another event was held at the Women's College Hospital, where Mayor John Tory, among others, spoke out about violence against women.
Tory said the Montreal Massacre was a "horrific act" in which women were killed because they were women.
"There are many, many women still being killed as a result of acts of violence, often by their partners," he said. "We need to mourn all of these people and take steps to deal with the underlying problems that led to this kind of violence."
Women Won't Forget, which describes itself as a grassroots feminist group, says on its website: "We vow not to forget these women and all women who live with violence, who have died due to violence, and those who have survived."
The group says it speaks for women who can no longer speak for themselves. It says, "It is the job of those of us who go on living to speak for them and to change the world we live in."