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'This is a sad day for all of us'

National Day of Remembrance ceremony at city hall
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Women who lost their lives to violence were remembered at city hall with music, candles and a moment of silence.

The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women was marked in front of a packed crowd in the rotunda Wednesday night. 

The event honoured the 14 women killed on Dec. 6, 1989 in the Montreal Massacre and the 32 women murdered this year in Ontario.

"It's important for us as a community to come together. Tonight we honour those women and we become their voices because their voices no longer exist," said Teresa MacLennan Executive Director, Women and Children’s Shelter of Barrie. 

"This is a sad day for all of us. Every six days in Canada a woman is murdered by her intimate partner. So every six days we lose another mother, sister, grandmother, our daughters," MacLennan said.

MacLennan told the crowd our role as a community is to rally together, speak out about violence against women and no longer tolerate the subtle ways women are put down and diminished.

The audience was told that 1 in 3 women will experience gender-based violence in their lifetime. 

Mayor Jeff Lehman was pleased the service was taking place in what he called the 'civic heart' of our community.

Lehman read a proclamation declaring Dec. 6 a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Barrie.

He noted there are reasons for hope right now and highlighted the fact that today Time magazine named 'The Silence Breakers' as Person of the Year for the impact it is having on our society in North America.

"But we live in polarizing times. And there are way too many voices out there right now going in the other direction. Enabling the kind of activity and enabling the kind of violence that continues to permeate society," Lehman said. 

"Your voices and this event -  the organizations around this room - your efforts and the awareness you raise every single day of the year are that much more important right now," he added.

The Mayor was referring to the many groups represented at the ceremony including The Gilbert Centre, The Child and Youth Advocacy Centre, The Women and Children's Centre of Barrie, to name a few.

Representatives of MPP Ann Hoggarth and MP John Brassard both spoke at the service.

"There is still much more work to do," said Shawn Bubel on behalf of Brassard. "Our job as family members, friends, citizens, neighbours is to speak out and support those in their most desperate time of need. We must take action and empower them."

A candle light vigil was held at OPP Headquarters in Orillia Wednesday with keynote speaker Priscilla deVilliers.

Her 19-year-old daughter Nina was abducted and murdered in 1991 by a man with a long history of violence who was out on bail at the time.

De Villiers went on to form the anti-violence/judicial reform organization Canadians Against Violence Everywhere Advocating its Termination (CAVEAT).  It has since disbanded. She is now the co-founder and executive director of the Victim Justice Network (VJN).