National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women – December 6, 2021

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women is observed in Canada on December 6 each year. Informally called White Ribbon Day, the day marks the anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre in 1989. As we reflect on the act of senseless violence that claimed the lives of 14 women, we emphasize our dedication to fighting the hatred that inspired the tragedy.

History of National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada honors victims of gender-based violence and those who have died because of it. It is also an opportunity to act and do our part to create a better world. We can overcome gender-based violence by reflecting and learning from the past, relating to survivors, and speaking against violent behavior.

The Canadian Parliament established the day in 1991 to commemorate the 1989 massacre at Polytechnique Montréal, previously École Polytechnique de Montréal. As we mourn the deaths, we must also remember all those who continue to be victims of gender-based violence. Canadians have constructed memorial sites throughout the country in response to the tragedy, ensuring that people are aware of the events, making society aware of how frequently violence against women occurs, and honoring the lives of those who have been killed.

Every act of violence against women is motivated by a perception that women are less human than males. As a result, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women commemorates more than one massacre. It is a call for awareness and change in the face of male violence against women worldwide. According to the United Nations, 35% of women are victims of some form of sexual and physical violence inflicted by an intimate partner or non-partner. This day serves as a reminder of the danger of the power imbalance between men and women worldwide and that we have a responsibility to do something about it.

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women timeline

1983
Bill C-127 is Passed

Bill C-127 is issued in Canada, making rape and sexual assault a crime within the context of marriage.

1985
Charter of Rights and Freedoms Activated

In Canada, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms establishes the right to equality, preventing the government from discriminating against people because of their gender or sexual orientation.

1989
The École Polytechnique de Montréal Massacre Occurs

An antifeminist shooter murders 14 women at the École Polytechnique in Montréal, Canada.

1991
Parliament Establishes the Holiday

The Parliament of Canada commissions the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women to mark the Montréal Massacre’s anniversary.

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women FAQs

What are the effects of gender-based violence?

Victims of gender-based violence often suffer reproductive and sexual health issues such as unwanted pregnancies, STDs, traumatic fistula, and unsafe abortions.

What are the common forms of partner violence?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlights sexual violence, physical violence, psychological aggression, and stalking as the four most common types of partner violence.

How can we end gender-based violence?

Taking action is the best way to end gender-based violence. Here is how you can do it:

  1. Pay attention to survivors, learn from them, and believe their reports. 
  2. Educate the next generation based on what you’ve learned. 
  3. Learn more about consent.
  4. Identify the signs of physical and sexual abuse. 
  5. Don’t shy away from starting a conversation.

How to Observe National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

  1. Research and share information

    The only way to win the battle is to know the enemy. Study the history of gender-based violence and share the information to help spread awareness and help those who need it.

  2. Donate to charities

    Donate to charities for victims of gender-based violence. Your donations go a long way in helping survivors adjust and cope with trauma.

  3. Join local events

    Look up participating organizations around you and join their events. Volunteer your time and lend your voice to the cause.

5 Shocking Facts About Gender-Based Violence

  1. Child brides

    Over 15 million girls under 18 get married every year; that is about 28 every minute.

  2. Unwanted advances

    Approximately 30% of females report that they were forced into their first sexual experience.

  3. High risk

    Females between 15-44 years old are more likely to be victims of domestic violence or rape than car accidents, cancer, or malaria.

  4. High HIV numbers

    In 2015, over 58% of HIV infections were attributed to young women and adolescent girls.

  5. One too many

    One in every three women worldwide is a victim of sexual or physical violence.

Why National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women is Important

  1. It creates awareness

    We can’t change it if we don’t talk about it. This observance helps us create awareness about the violence that women suffer at the hands of men.

  2. We leave an impact

    We all get to act and stand against discrimination and gender-based violence. Our actions help change society’s attitude towards women and minorities.

  3. To honor the victims

    Countless lives are lost to the horrors of gender-based violence every year. This holiday is an opportunity to remember the victims we lost and what they endured.

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women dates

YearDateDay
2021December 6Monday
2022December 6Tuesday
2023December 6Wednesday
2024December 6Friday
2025December 6Saturday

Holidays Straight to Your Inbox

Every day is a holiday!
Receive fresh holidays directly to your inbox.