After 8 Quebec women murdered within 8 weeks, protesters say 'enough is enough'
"Enough is enough. Not one more," chanted those present at a protest in Montreal Friday, one of many held across Quebec at the same time to protest against femicides and violence against women.
The events were inspired by tragic statistics: since the start of the pandemic, 13 Quebec women have been murdered in cases linked to domestic violence, including eight within the last eight weeks.
"A horrifying tally," said actress and author Ingrid Falaise, one of the event's organizers and herself a survivor of domestic violence.
And for each of these murdered women there are thousands of others who live in fear on a daily basis, said the group that organized the events.
It consists of the Alliance des maisons d'hébergement de 2e étape, la Fédération des maisons d'hébergement pour femmes, L'R des centres de femmes, le Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale, and Falaise.
In Montreal, the participants -- most of them women -- walked from Park Lafontaine to Mount Royal. Many made the journey in silence.
Several held signs: "We never kill love," and "More listened to dead than alive," two read. Others wore a white ribbon on their clothing or masks.
At times, the line of walkers stretched over more than six city blocks.
A woman named Noémie said she was there because she herself was the victim of domestic violence, beaten while pregnant with her daughter.
"I got out of it, but you never really get out of it afterwards, because the justice system is not made for the victims, it is made for the torturers," she said.
She said that by coming out in cold on Friday, she hoped to help make a difference, in her own way.
"By giving my voice and participating in events like this," she said, she wants to make them "be talked about. And that we are not afraid to talk about it, that we are not ashamed that it happened."
One of the men who attended, Eugène Dufresne, said he was there to walk "in solidarity" with women. "We have to be able to stop the violence," he said. "This must end."
One of the group's leaders addressed the crowd at one end of the march.
"We can't take it anymore. We can't take it anymore," said Viviane Michel, the president of the Federation of Native Women of Quebec, in a somber tone.
"We must educate our boys from a young age," she said.
The rate of violence against Indigenous women is particularly high.
In the middle of the park, the group observed a minute of silence in memory of the 13 women killed. Each of their names was read, then repeated by the crowd.
Events were planned in some 20 municipalities in Quebec, including Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, La Malbaie, Montreal, Baie-Saint-Paul, Victoriaville, Tadoussac, Baie-Comeau, Sept-Îles, Rimouski, Sherbrooke, Gaspé and Joliette, among other cities.
The organizers also challenged the government on the importance of acting now in terms of strengthening the safety net for victims of domestic violence.
The number of cases continues to steadily increase, said Laurence Bitez of the Maison aide aux femmes de Montréal, who was present at Park Lafontaine.
"We have had many more calls since the start of the pandemic, but we lack funding and we lack places" for them, added the young woman, herself a former victim of violence.
"It's a problem that concerns us all," she continued, also pointing to the fact that many more women than men attended the march.
"I have a lot of gratitude for those who are there," however, she said. "Luckily you see more and more of them at events like this."
Quebec's Minister for the Status of Women, Isabelle Charest, participated in the walk on Friday with her two children.
She said she was present as a citizen but also as an elected official, to tell Quebecers that "we are here, we will continue the fight against this devastating problem."
The demonstration was important because there is a need for overall awareness, Charest said.
About shelters decrying the lack of places to accommodate women -- as well as the $22.5 million over five years dedicated to these shelters in the last budget, an amount deemed insufficient by people in the field -- she said Quebecers should expect more news.
"The budget is not an end in itself," she said. "We continue to discuss and work with them."
Two members of the Parti Québécois, Véronique Hivon and Méganne Perry Mélançon, participated respectively in Montreal and Gaspé.
And Liberals Isabelle Melançon and Maryse Gaudreault showed up to the rallies in Montreal and Gatineau.
The names of the 13 women killed since the start of the pandemic:
- Johanne Corriveau
- Sylvie F.
- Francine Lussier
- Mary Saviadjuk
- Françoise Côté
- Elisapee Angma
- Marly Édouard
- Nancy Roy
- Myriam Dallaire
- Sylvie Bisson
- Nadège Jolicoeur
- Kataluk Paningayak-Naluiyuk
- Rebekah Harry
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Watch the video above to see Billy Shields's video report from Montreal.