National Day of Remembrance

President Feridun Hamdullahpur speaking to campus colleages at the National Day of Remembrance Ceremony

President Feridun Hamdullahpur speaking to campus colleagues at the National Day of Remembrance Ceremony on December 6.

Every year, the United Nations sponsors a global 16 Days of Activism Against Gendered Violence, which begins on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and ends on December 10, International Human Rights Day. 

Today - December 6 - as we observe a National Day of Remembrance in acknowledgment of a horrific act of violence against women that claimed fourteen lives at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal in 1989, we remember that terrible tragedy, but we don't stop there.

As the global 16 Days of Activism carries forward, the searing memory of that terrible day only fuels our resolve to make our campus and world safe and inclusive and equitable for all. We've got a lot of work to do to realize this vision, but we're on our way.

At Waterloo, our #16daysUW initiative launches our second annual campaign, organized and presented by a growing group of faculty and staff from across campus. We've got more than 16 events and activities planned - some of which, like our HeForShe Ideathon, have already taken place. Other 16 Days events range from artistic performances to workshops on how men can live their best lives in part by advocating equity for all.

You know by now that equity is a core priority for Waterloo, and for me. Our work helping to lead the UN Women's HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 campaign for gender equity has catalyzed some strong progress toward equity on university campuses, including our own.

I was proud to join my HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 colleagues in releasing the first-ever University Parity Report, which discusses how we can make our campuses places for the free and safe pursuit of knowledge and equality.  Here at Waterloo, we have achieved record-breaking female enrolment in Engineering, developed gendered neutral washrooms, established a safe-spaces training program, implemented inclusive admissions and registration forms, and we're working hard to bring forward a meaningful, comprehensive zero-tolerance policy on sexual assault. Our journey is nowhere near complete, but we are on the right path. 

This is how we choose to respond to acts of exclusion and hatred like the one we acknowledge on December 6.

We remember those women who lost their lives to hate. And in their memory, we take this day as a challenge to create campuses, communities, and ultimately a world that is free from gendered violence .

It's a challenge we accept with full hearts, and with an unshakable commitment to equity and inclusion and safety for all.

On our campus and everywhere.  

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