I was recently at a memorial to remember people who have died by suicide. It was a celebration of these people’s lives, people who have faced stigma for mental health issues, addictions and homelessness.
There was one part in which people could write the names of those who have passed away on a tree. I felt myself tearing up as I saw the tree fill up with names of people I never knew.
These people were important to someone and should not be forgotten.
Some people shared stories of these names as tears streamed down their faces. There were beautiful, difficult, hopeful and funny memories. Instead of focusing on their death, they could celebrate these people’s lives and who they were.
Their names and stories mattered.
Today is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women to remember the 14 women who were killed 23 years ago at Montreal’s École Polytechnique, simply for being women.
Their names are Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault and Annie Turcotte.
This day also remembers women who have lost their lives to gender-based violence and those who continue to face violence in its many forms.
I recently read a piece in The Crunk Feminist Collective, Remember Their Names: In Memory of Kasandra, Cherica & Others. It was about Jovan Belcher, the Kansas City Chiefs player who recently killed his girlfriend before taking his own life. The article talks about remembering Kasandra’s name and the many other victims who are overshadowed in the violence. It’s definitely worth reading.
“Headlines and news stories have focused on the tragedy from the lens of the perpetrator (including speculation of potential brain trauma, his involvement, as an undergraduate, in a Male Athletes Against Violence initiative, and his standing as an allstar athlete), in some ways dismissing or overshadowing the lens of the victim, who in headlines is simply referred to as ‘(his) girlfriend.’
“Her name is Kasandra Michelle Perkins. She was 22 years old, a new mother, and an aspiring teacher. Her picture shows off a beautiful smile and her friends describe her as selfless, kind, and generous. She was excited about being a mother to her newborn, Zoey, and was optimistic about her future. But her future was cut short, her life was taken away, and I think you should know her name.”
Let us remember those who continue to experience violence in its many forms, and get to know the story behind the name.