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<p>Barb Broome lights a memorial candle during a ceremony Friday to mark the national day of remembrance and action on violence against women, Friday. Colin MacLean/Journal Pioneer</p>
<p>Barb Broome lights a memorial candle during a ceremony Friday to mark the national day of remembrance and action on violence against women, Friday. Colin MacLean/Journal Pioneer</p>

SUMMERSIDE – Two weeks ago Barb Broome, of Ellerslie, got an unexpected phone call from the RCMP in Ontario.

They had some of her mother’s personal items that they wanted to send to her.

It was mostly jewelry: a watch, earrings, a wedding band and engagement ring – all things she’d had on her 23 years ago when the man who gave her those rings killed her.   

Sadly, this was not the last time Broome would lose a woman she cared about to violence at the hands of a man.

Shirley Anne Duguay, killed by her common-law husband in 1994, was a neighbour, and Mary Waite, killed by her common-law partner in 2000, was an aunt.

These women were squarely in Broome’s mind Friday as she lit a candle in memory of the 25th anniversary of the infamous Montreal Massacre, which has become a national day of remembrance and action on violence against women.

But they were not the only people on her mind.

“I just think of the young women that I work with, whose self confidence is quite low. Many of them are going through situations that are not always the best,” she said, shaking her head.

“How many more are out there? I think it affects everyone.”

Friday’s ceremony was a somber one, hosted by Trinity United Church in Summerside, and organized by the East Prince Women’s Information Centre.

Summerside Councillor Norma McColeman, who works in outreach with P.E.I. Family Violence, spoke about her experiences through her work. She also used the opportunity to outline the particular challenges faced by aboriginal women and the fight for a national inquiry into missing and murdered women from that demographic.

About 30 people attended, many lighting candles, some sobbing softly as the names of the 14 Montreal women were read aloud. A man who burst into their school, École Polytechnique, in 1989, shot them because he blamed feminists for ruining his life.

The names of nine Island women, all murdered by their partners, were also read aloud and had a candle lit in their name.

Andy Lou Somers, executive director of the women’s information centre, has watched the number of those candles slowly go up over the years with a great sense of sadness.

But lately she’s found reason for optimism.

She’s encouraged by the national discussion currently ongoing in Canada around sexual consent, violence against women and societal attitudes towards victims, which have been spurred on by high profile cases involving allegations against celebrities like Bill Cosby and Jian Ghomeshi.

“We know from dealing with clients that it’s still happening. But we are finding that more women are coming forward and are talking about it and are seeking help,” said Somers.

“(These high profile cases) kind of helps them to see that it’s happening to others all around the world and the country … that they are not an isolated incident, they’re not alone and there is power in numbers.”

Broome has also taken notice of this discussion, and she thinks it’s long past due.

“It’s about time everyone worked together and really made awareness of what’s out there. Too many things are hush hush and sheltered and it needs to be brought out more to the front. I still feel woman don’t report what’s happening to them, and a lot of that has to do with society,” she said.

Colin.MacLean@JournalPioneer.com

@JournalPMacLean

A few resources for P.E.I. women:

P.E.I. Family Violence Prevention outreach services:

Summerside 436-0517
   

Montague 838-0795
   

Charlottetown 566-1480, ext 224
   

O’Leary 859-8849

Anderson House Emergency Shelter, Charlottetown: 892-0960

East Prince Women’s Information Centre: 436-9856

They had some of her mother’s personal items that they wanted to send to her.

It was mostly jewelry: a watch, earrings, a wedding band and engagement ring – all things she’d had on her 23 years ago when the man who gave her those rings killed her.   

Sadly, this was not the last time Broome would lose a woman she cared about to violence at the hands of a man.

Shirley Anne Duguay, killed by her common-law husband in 1994, was a neighbour, and Mary Waite, killed by her common-law partner in 2000, was an aunt.

These women were squarely in Broome’s mind Friday as she lit a candle in memory of the 25th anniversary of the infamous Montreal Massacre, which has become a national day of remembrance and action on violence against women.

But they were not the only people on her mind.

“I just think of the young women that I work with, whose self confidence is quite low. Many of them are going through situations that are not always the best,” she said, shaking her head.

“How many more are out there? I think it affects everyone.”

Friday’s ceremony was a somber one, hosted by Trinity United Church in Summerside, and organized by the East Prince Women’s Information Centre.

Summerside Councillor Norma McColeman, who works in outreach with P.E.I. Family Violence, spoke about her experiences through her work. She also used the opportunity to outline the particular challenges faced by aboriginal women and the fight for a national inquiry into missing and murdered women from that demographic.

About 30 people attended, many lighting candles, some sobbing softly as the names of the 14 Montreal women were read aloud. A man who burst into their school, École Polytechnique, in 1989, shot them because he blamed feminists for ruining his life.

The names of nine Island women, all murdered by their partners, were also read aloud and had a candle lit in their name.

Andy Lou Somers, executive director of the women’s information centre, has watched the number of those candles slowly go up over the years with a great sense of sadness.

But lately she’s found reason for optimism.

She’s encouraged by the national discussion currently ongoing in Canada around sexual consent, violence against women and societal attitudes towards victims, which have been spurred on by high profile cases involving allegations against celebrities like Bill Cosby and Jian Ghomeshi.

“We know from dealing with clients that it’s still happening. But we are finding that more women are coming forward and are talking about it and are seeking help,” said Somers.

“(These high profile cases) kind of helps them to see that it’s happening to others all around the world and the country … that they are not an isolated incident, they’re not alone and there is power in numbers.”

Broome has also taken notice of this discussion, and she thinks it’s long past due.

“It’s about time everyone worked together and really made awareness of what’s out there. Too many things are hush hush and sheltered and it needs to be brought out more to the front. I still feel woman don’t report what’s happening to them, and a lot of that has to do with society,” she said.

Colin.MacLean@JournalPioneer.com

@JournalPMacLean

A few resources for P.E.I. women:

P.E.I. Family Violence Prevention outreach services:

Summerside 436-0517
   

Montague 838-0795
   

Charlottetown 566-1480, ext 224
   

O’Leary 859-8849

Anderson House Emergency Shelter, Charlottetown: 892-0960

East Prince Women’s Information Centre: 436-9856

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