Toronto police responded to 20,000 calls in relation to domestic violence this year, mayor says
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne placed roses in a vase at a ceremony in Toronto in memory of 14 women killed in Montreal 27 years ago.
Wynne, along with Toronto Mayor John Tory, spoke at Women’s College Hospital about the deaths at l’École Polytechnique on Dec. 6 in 1989.
On this day in 1989, 14 women were shot and killed at the engineering school by a gunman professing to hate feminists.
“We mourn their loss and we mourn the violence of that day,” Wynne told the gathering.
Wynne said fifteen roses were at the ceremony, with 14 in honour of the women killed. The fifteenth rose was in memory of women who continue to die.
“Gender-based violence has touched all of our lives in one way or another,” she said.
Wynne referred to the recent death of Toronto physician Elana Fric-Shamji, whose remains were found in a suitcase outside of Vaughan, Ont. last Thursday. Toronto police have charged her husband, Mohammed Shamji, with first-degree murder.
Wynne said her thoughts are with the family and friends of Fric-Shamji after her violent death.
“We remind ourselves that violence against women is still prevalent in our society. We will shine a light into that darkness, in the harsh reality of violence against women. It is a reality too often clouded in secrecy and shame,” she said.
Wynne said political rhetoric during the U.S. presidential election campaign has served as a warning sign that women may be at risk of losing the gains they have made over the years.
She said the Ontario government promises to do more to help women who experience domestic violence in the province.
Tory, who spoke after Wynne, said violence against women continues to be a problem in Toronto. He said Toronto police, this year, have responded to about 20,000 calls involving domestic incidents, including violence.
“These are not things that solely happen in other places to other people. Gender-based violence is something we have to acknowledge and combat here in Toronto every single day. It is still a tragic daily reality for far too many Canadian and Toronto women.
“Our city is not immune,” the mayor said.
After the fifteen roses were placed in a vase, people in the audience lit candles and observed a moment of silence for the 14 women.
‘Responsibility to address gender-based violence’
At Toronto police headquarters, Bonnie Levine, director of Victim Services Toronto, a community-based charity that helps victims of crime, said VST crisis counsellors and case coordinators helped 14,593 victims and survivors of gender-based violence in Toronto last year.
“We helped people who experienced domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking or criminal harassment, human trafficking, internet-luring, and hate crimes, to name a few,” she said.
Levine said VST crisis counsellors deal with the psychological and emotional effects of trauma.
“And because we see the heartbreaking effects, we also have a responsibility to prevent and address gender-based violence,” she added. “In fact, we believe that we all have a responsibility to address gender-based violence and any form of violence that is born out of hatred.”