COURTENAY, B.C. – A somber anniversary will be remembered in downtown Courtenay tomorrow afternoon.

December 6 marks the 28th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, where 14 young women were gunned down simply because they were women who were studying to become engineers.

In honour of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, the Comox Valley Transition Society and Honouring Our Sisters is hosting a vigil at noon on Thursday at the plaza in front of the Comox Valley Art Gallery, 580 Duncan Ave.

According to a society release, the act of violence in 1989 “galvanized the movement to end violence against women which continues to this day.”

The society’s program coordinator Anne Davis said there has been a vigil in the valley “pretty well every year” since the Montreal Massacre.

“I think the Montreal Massacre really brought the whole issue of violence against women into the public consciousness in 1989,” Davis said. “There are so many services across the country working to support women who have experienced violence, but there have been a lot of losses. A lot of women have died.”

Every six days, a woman is murdered by a current or former partner. Over the last 40 years, roughly 1,200 Indigenous women have gone missing or have been murdered in Canada.

“I think it’s important, once a year, to just kind of stop for a moment and remember those women and draw attention to the problem, and renew that commitment to keep working for an end to violence,” Davis said.

On Dec. 6, all women whose lives have been lost as a result of male violence are remembered and honoured.

“They were sisters, mothers, daughters, aunties, cousins, wives, partners and friends. They have been loved. But they have been taken from us too soon,” the release notes.

Everyone is welcome at a vigil that will include speakers, songs, and the traditional laying of the roses.

About the Comox Valley Transition Society

The society provides a range of services, including safe shelter, a crisis line, and counselling for women who have experienced abuse in relationships, and their children, as a well as a support group for men seeking a non-judgemental forum to deal with the pressures of everyday life.

Honouring Our Sisters is made up of community members who came together during the 2015 Walking With Our Sisters memorial and wish to continue the work of honouring and raising awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Davis said over the past nearly three decades, steps have been made to help women who experience violence.

The progress comes in the form of more services for abused women and their children, as well as more public awareness throughout western society.

“The whole Me Too movement has certainly brought awareness to sexual assault, and more and more we’re seeing men stepping up and saying this kind of behaviour is unacceptable, and that they are willing to speak out, when they see it from other men,” Davis said. “So yeah, I think we’re making progress.”