As a positive twist on the misogynistic signs painted on white bed sheets during Queen’s University Homecoming weekend this past October, three Kingston groups have come together to give residents a chance to paint messages of support to end violence against women.
“We want people to hang sheets [outside their homes] on Monday, Dec. 6, 2021 with positive messages about ending gender-based violence,” said Leigh Martins, Training, Education and Volunteer Coordinator at Kingston Interval House.
The idea started when a group of Queen’s University students came together to find a way to respond to the negative messages during the university’s Homecoming weekend from Friday, Oct. 15 to Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021.
The students then collaborated with Kingston Interval House and Sexual Assault Centre (SAC) Kingston to hand out supplies of white sheets, paint and paint brushes to residents on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021 from 12 to 3 p.m. in Victoria Park.
This coming Monday, Dec. 6, 2021, is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women to commemorate the Montreal massacre when an armed student murdered 14 women at the Ecole Polytechnique in 1989.
In Ontario, 58 women and children were murdered from Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020 to Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021 specifically because of their gender by someone likely known to them.
“Those 14 women were gunned down because they were women. We can see that that’s still happening. This event is to raise awareness and to recognize what happened to those women. There’s a lot of survivors of gender-based violence that still need our support,” Martins expressed, explaining that, on Monday, Dec. 6, 2021, Kingston Interval House and SAC Kingston will co-host an event in honour of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, posting a video to the social media accounts of both organizations at 5 p.m. that day. Like many services and memorials that take place annually on December 6, the event will involve the reading of a list of women’s names — but those names will not solely be those of the 14 women who tragically lost their lives in 1989.
“There’s a lot of work to be done. The names that we read are local women that [Kingston agencies have] worked with, that unfortunately were killed because they were women. I don’t think people realize how prevalent it still is,” Martins added, her voice cracking.
Since the pandemic began, the incidence of violence against women have increased “dramatically,” according to Martins. In Ontario, 58 women and children were murdered from Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020 to Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021, specifically because of their gender by someone likely known to them, she explained.
“That’s just the ones reported,” said Martins. “One’s too many. That’s what keeps us all doing this work—to pay tribute to those who were lost, to keep doing the work,” Martins added.
The new video will go live on Monday at 5 p.m. on the Kingston Interval House and Sexual Assault Centre Kingston’s social media sites. The video will detail new statistics on gender-based violence and will commemorate the 14 women lost in the massacre, as well as those women affected locally.
“The biggest thing—if you follow us (on social media)—is that people can re-tweet or re-share on Facebook and Instagram. There’s a post every day on how to find easy ways to support ending gender-based violence,” Martins encouraged.
Residents may also donate on the websites, as well as put up their own sheets with positive messages such as “No means no” or “I don’t want to be a statistic.”
“We are asking [residents] to hang them outside of their homes on December 6 and post a picture [online], tagging our two agencies and using the hashtag #Dec6ygk. We want to flood social media with positive pictures and show people speaking out against gender-based violence,” she said.