WE HEREBY RECLAIM THE RIGHT OF ALL WOMEN TO LIVE IN HOPE AND NOT IN FEAR
HERSTORY OF WOMEN WON'T FORGET
On December 8th, 1989, after a vigil at City Hall, a small group of women formed in response to the Montreal slayings. We initially got together to share our grief, sorrow, and outrage. We also wanted to find a focus for our feelings. We called ourselves "WOMEN WON'T FORGET". We did not know each other then and we came from all walks of life.
Our first project was the organization of a large donation of wreathes. As well, we ourselves created our own wreaths. These were displayed December 1989 at the Y.W.C.A., Eglinton and Yonge. We then arranged to have these wreaths shipped to Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, for their memorial service.
Out of this effort, our commitment to continue fighting on behalf of women and children in our society strengthened. Many of our group discussions centered around linking the Montreal Massacre to the ongoing violence experienced by women and children.
We met weekly, Sunday mornings at the donut shop at St. George St. and Bloor, where we eventually developed a focus for our group...the creation of a permanent memorial to commemorate the lives of the 14 women and all women who die from male violence. The memorial would be a symbol of our struggle to end the continuing violence against women.
On March 8th, at the International Women's Day Fair, we raised money and interest in our group and our membership grew to 10 members.
The creation of the memorial took a lot of work, meetings, negotiating, fundrasing, letter writing etc. We contacted a number of people at different levels of government as well as the University of Toronto in order to find a site for our memorial. We decided on Philosopher's Walk at the University of Toronto, because it was available and because the area was in the process of being re-landscaped to provide better safety for women. Our work was completed by December 6, 1990, at which time a candlelight vigil and ceremony was held.
The memorial consists of
- 14 Red Oak tress, scattered throughout the Philosopher's Walk
- A large pink granite boulder, which we discovered at the Scarborough Bluffs
- An engraved plaque
We are still very much a grass roots feminist group relying solely on contributions from the community. Our numbers have dwindled, this year there are just four active members arranging the ceremony and fundraising. We have received funding, expertise and space from interested and concerned people and we are very thankful for the support.
Every year at 6 PM on December 6th, people gather at the memorial boulder in Philosopher's Walk to mourn the 14 women murdered because of their gender at l'Ecole Polytechnique in 1989. 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. Join Women Won't Forget as we remember and tell the stories of those women who can no longer speak for themselves. It is the job of those of us who go on living to speak for them and to change the world we live in.