Gwynne Hunt believes the death of any woman and girl due to violence is inexcusable.
So inexcusable that she has organized an Abbotsford Memory March, a silent walk and ceremony in remembrance of the hundreds of women that go missing or are murdered each year across Canada.
Hunt hopes Abbotsford residents of all genders and ages feel equally outraged, and will attend the march on Saturday to remember the victims of violence and work for change.
The event follows hard on the heels of International Women’s Day today, a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.
While women have secured many gains over the last few decades, freedom from violence is not one of them, said Hunt.
“We had the feminist movement in the 70s, but 40 years later the violence against women is still the same,” she said.
“There’s lot of equality in other ways, but not as far as violence is concerned.”
An average of 200 women and girls are murdered annually, said Hunt, who intends to display the names of almost 4,000 victims of violence at the end of the march in Thunderbird Memorial Square.
The catalogue of names is something Hunt took over in 2005 from another women’s rights activist, Mary Billy, who started the Femicide List after the Montreal Massacre in 1989 when Marc Lepine murdered 14 women.
“Mary wanted to list the names,” said Hunt.
“We all knew the name of Marc Lepine, but she couldn’t find the names of the victims anywhere.”
Seeing the names of murdered and missing women is important and makes their deaths more real, more concrete, she added.
“We need to honour all these women and children who are gone,” Hunt said.
“I don’t think many people know how many women are dying in a violent way.”
The Memory March is the fifth to be organized by Hunt, but it is the first time it’s being held in Abbotsford.
Previously, the event took place in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, but Hunt decided it was time to bring attention to violence against women in her hometown.
“I feel strongly there needs to be more of this kind of action in this city, and other smaller and medium-size cities, rather than just in large urban centres.”
The march is not just about grieving, but empowerment as well, as participants feel connected and hopeful of change, said Hunt.
Everyone is welcome at the event, she added.
“Feminism today is everyone working together [for change], rather than pointing fingers,” she said.
“We need to change the violence in homes and the violence we subject our children to.
“If we become more aware it, maybe we can change the problem.”
w The Memory March is Saturday, March 19 and starts at 10 a.m. from the Mill Lake water spray park at 2310 Emerson Street. The march will travel to Thunderbird Memorial Square adjacent to City Hall for the final ceremony and vigil. This year the Memory March is followed by arts performances at the International Celebration of Women from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and/or from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Best Western Regency Conference Centre, 32110 Marshall Road. Tickets cost $6.
For more information visit ragmag.net/memory-march/.