Address at NAIT event to mark the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

A woman stands behind a podium.

Published On
December 6, 2023

Carol Moen, WBF president and CEO, spoke at an event at NAIT to remember the 14 women murdered at Polytechnique Montréal in 1989 and all victims of gender-based violence. These were her remarks.

Hello, everyone. It is truly my privilege to be here to reflect on the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

This day holds personal significance for me as an engineer and as the president and CEO of Women Building Futures.

WBF is a non-profit organization that helps remove barriers to economic security for women and gender-diverse people. We do this through training, support and connection to employment in trades and transportation – fields where women are traditionally under-represented.

Through my time at WBF, I have gained an understanding of the work that remains to ensure all women can feel safe and supported in the workplace, particularly in fields where they are under-represented. I have also come to appreciate the very many barriers that women face on their paths to economic security and how a lack of economic empowerment can keep women in a cycle of abuse.

It remains shocking to me that on this day in 1989 14 women were murdered at Polytechnique Montreal in an act of violent misogyny.

I had been out of mechanical engineering school less than a year when this happened, and it has had a lasting impact on me. As a young woman, I was encouraged to do anything I wanted to do. I was shocked that these women were killed for taking the brave step to pursue education and a career in engineering. I felt vulnerable. I felt like this could have easily been me.

Today, as we mourn these lives cut short, it is also an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to fight the hatred that led to the Montreal massacre and that continues to fuel gender-based violence in our communities. Gender-based violence takes many forms: physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, financial and economic abuse. Since the tragic day in 1989, we have been reminded all too often of the violence and discrimination faced in Canada and around the world by girls, women and gender-diverse individuals, especially those who face overlapping systems of oppression.

I think all of you in this room wouldn’t be here today if you didn’t feel that we still had work to do.

This is work that starts with educating ourselves and understanding the actions we can take to both empower women and girls but also build allies for change. Some change has happened, certainly over my career and my lifetime. Where positive change has happened, it has taken tremendous leadership and hard work, every day, at our workplace and in our homes.

We know that when you lift up a woman – when she has access to education, safe and inclusive spaces and a sustainable career that empowers her economically – it has ripple effects, on her children and her community.

As we commemorate the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, let us remember those who have experienced gender-based violence and those we have lost to it. Let us commit to taking action to end the violence. Together, we can create a world where women, girls and gender-diverse people can thrive in safe and inclusive spaces. The work we are all doing is critical and can eventually influence culture which then will drive true and lasting change.

Thank you.