An Incomplete and Ongoing History of Canadian Violence Against Women

After his attack on pedestrians in Toronto, a Facebook post attributed to Alek Minassian’s profile linked him to a subculture of male netizens. This particular group of men, dubbed “Incels”, resent how women have rejected their sexual advances, and often express themselves in severely misogynistic terms. The post made by Minassian’s profile (verified by Facebook), made mention of Elliot Rodger, who became the epitome of the movement in 2014. Rodger ranted in vlogs believing he was fully entitled to sex, and then went on a shooting rampage in Isla Vista seeking revenge.

This targeted violence towards women is nothing new, and unfortunately our society is rife with examples of it every day. Canada itself has a long and troubled history of violence against women, and the recent attack in Toronto is another reminder of how things remain unchanged. While Minassian’s name is currently in the headlines, there have been a long line of abusers and murderers before him, and a real lack of tangible progress:

-Although mass shootings are often used to illustrate the violence experienced in the United States, Canada is certainly not immune to these tragedies. In 1989, a gunman specifically targeted women in Montreal, and killed 14. He singled them out, insisting feminism had destroyed his life. This sentiment has been echoed in subsequent violence in the US and Canada.

-In 1996, a man shot his wife dead, and then eight of her relatives. Before she was shot, Rajwar Gakhal had gone to the police, worried for her life. Those concerns were forgotten, and it cost Gakhal her life.

-In 2015, a man in Renfrew County killed three women, after he had been reported to police for his violence towards his partners. He shot Anastasia Kuzyk and Nathalie Warmerdam, and strangled Carol Culleton.

-Renfrew County has a monument to women in the area who have lost their lives to violent men. The list is depressingly lengthy:

Margaret Richardson, 46, of Pembroke. On Oct. 23, 1969, the mother of seven children and grandmother to five, was gunned down by her husband, Henry, who then shot himself.

Loretta Ostroskie, 50, of Wilno. On Jan. 1, 1972, Loretta was shot to death by her husband of 18 months, Michael. She was the mother of two sons from a previous marriage.

Delores Lenser, 37, and her mother, Charlotte Wagner, 54, of Golden Lake. On April 7, 1973, Delores was shot by her husband, Wallace, who also killed Charlotte. The assailant then shot himself. Delores’ two-year-old son was home at the time but was not harmed.

Marysia Buraczewski, 23, of Renfrew. On July 22, 1981, police recovered Marysia’s body from the Bonnechere River. In 1983, Leonard Shirley was convicted of her murder.

Maybelle Timms, 54, of Pembroke. On Nov. 30, 1982, the mother of four was stabbed to death by Gary Jones. During the attack, Maybelle’s father suffered wounds after coming to her defence.

Karen Clancy, 32, of Pembroke. On Jan. 31, 1983, Karen was stabbed twice in the neck by Wayne Hepworth and left to bleed to death on her kitchen floor. Hepworth was later convicted of murder.

Joceline (Jackie) Florent, 37. On June 25, 1987, Jackie was killed by her estranged husband, Donald. She was the mother of two teenage children.

Ann Marie Bloskie, 16, of Barry’s Bay. On June 26, 1991, Ann Marie, a student at Madawaska Valley District High School, was murdered by a 17-year-old young offender. She was the daughter of Martin and Dorothy Bloskie.

Glenda Kohlsmith, 42, of Arnprior. On April 22, 1994, Glenda was strangled to death by her estranged husband, Barry. She was the mother of two children.

Wanda Scully, 30, of Petawawa. On Feb. 23, 1995, Wanda was killed by her husband, John, who then shot himself. Her daughter, Jessica, was only 15 months old when she lost her mother.

Glenda LaSalle, 36, of Barry’s Bay. On Feb.15, 2002, Glenda was shot to death by her common-law partner, Bryan Crogie, who was convicted of her murder. Her daughter, Glenda, was 16 years old at the time.

Carol Anne Brunet, 54, of Renfrew. On May 31, 2010, Carol Anne died from a stab wound she received from Dugald Jamieson. He later pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Michelle Cameron, 27, of Deep River. On March 15, 2011, town police found Michelle dead in her residence. Her father-in-law, John Cameron, was convicted of first degree murder. Michelle was the mother of two young children.

Ashley Boudreau, 24, of Deep River. On Jan. 17, 2010, police found Ashley dead in her Ottawa apartment. An investigation determined that she had been murdered by her boyfriend, who then committed suicide.

Maureen Macdonnell, 36, formerly of Petawawa. On Nov. 13, 2011, Maureen had been stabbed to death in Prince Edward Island. Her assailant, Richard McLean, committed suicide.

-One of the most horrific stories that made international press were the killings in Port Coquitlam, where a serial killer confessed to the murder of 49 women, and had intended to make it 50. Dozens of murders have been linked to him in the Vancouver area.

-Between the years 1980-2012, 1,081-4,000 Indigenous women and girls were either murdered or had gone missing. That is a staggering number, and speaks to how widespread this targeted violence has been through Canada’s history. An official Inquiry was ordered to look into this particular issue, but it has suffered setback after setback.

Movements like the #MeToo campaign address these issues, and shed light on the underbelly of society many of us are uncomfortable discussing. Unfortunately, these kinds of movements are often met with disdain by insecure men who deride them on social media. Those who are unwilling to admit that the problem exists in Canada are exacerbating it with wilful ignorance. The immensity of the problem (with only the tiniest fraction being included here) cannot be obscufated by trolls or bots online; it demands immediate action and should never have been allowed to continue.

Ottawa Women’s March 2018- Media Files for Classroom Discussion

While teaching in Korea, I would often travel around with my camera to shoot video footage. I would then edit the footage together, and upload it to a YouTube channel. I would use this content for material in my EFL classes. It allowed me to tailor my lessons to my students and give them something they couldn’t get elsewhere.

Although I am currently on the supply circuit in Ottawa and Gatineau, I have begun doing the same thing. In the future when I am on an LTO, or have a permanent classroom, I will have some curated content available for my lessons. For the past few months I have been focusing on social and historical topics I figure could come up in a Social Studies-type class.

There’s a greater sense of immediacy when students are confronted with examples pulled from their own communities while learning. It is time-consuming to gather media to edit and use, but the effort is worth it.

This weekend was the 2018 Women’s March in Ottawa. I went with my camera in tow to listen and learn, but also to record what footage I could for future classroom use. I figured photographs and video of the march would elicit interesting conversations about gender, sexism, and the patriarchy. I am including some of what I collected below in the hope other educators will use it. Some of the language used in the signage may better benefit older students, but I leave that up to the teacher’s discretion.

The above video features part of a speech given at the very end of the assembly on Parliament Hill. The audio portion of it has been edited, and slightly re-cut, for length and clarity. I set it to footage I took of the crowd before and during the march. As for the wording on some of the included signage, I would say it’s on par with what CBC News decided to air (if you find anything problematic with my content, you can always have your students simply listen to the speech). For students who have trouble with spoken English (or are hard of hearing), I have included subtitles throughout the video for the speech.

The above slideshow has some shots from the march. You can either use the above app, or you can access the individual photos here. Choose the content that best fits your lesson and students.

I have been to other rallies in Ottawa and collected photos and video content from them. I will create separate posts for them in the future when time allows. If you enjoy this kind of content, please let me know your thoughts. I think it’s important for students to critically analyse advocacy in their community, and to discuss it.

While we are on the topic of Women’s Rights and challenging violence against women, a friend of a B.Ed classmate was the victim of horrific domestic abuse a month ago (and very close to my home). There are currently donations coming in on her behalf, and you can find the details HERE (**Trigger Warning** for details about the attack).

Geopolitical Role Play Scenario- Lesson Activity

During my time teaching leadership classes to students on Saturdays, I was tapped to hold a three-hour class with my regular group of Gangneung students and high school/university students from Canada. I was given the freedom to come up with my own lesson, but teaching a three-hour class seemed daunting. I decided to go with a role-play activity that would focus on the students working on communication/diplomacy skills on a faux world stage. I had done something similar with my Gangneung students the year before, but in a reduced, one hour, capacity.

Tying in themes of environmentalism, and human rights advocacy, I created a scenario that was team based. The teams had to deal with the ramifications of land use in a fictional South American country (I created an island country off the coast). Each team had different goals, and would need to negotiate with the others. They needed to come with a gameplan to serve their interests, send members to negotiate with other teams, reconvene and then present their resolution. The activity took three hours, but can be tailored for any amount of time.

Activist Team Worksheet

Farmers Team Worksheet

Foreign Interests Worksheet

Government Team Worksheet

Indigenous Team Worksheet

Logging Companies Worksheet

Final Resolution Worksheet

It wasn’t necessary for me to create assessment or evaluation tools for this lesson, but I am sure you can come up with a checklist or rubric that fits the curriculum needs of your document of choice.

Activities like this really motivated the students, and cultivated deep critical thinking. Prior to that, I hadn’t taught high school or university-aged Canadian students, and I wasn’t sure how they would take to it after being very jet-lagged. They took to it, though, and the City Hall and NGO that ran the organization enjoyed the exercise.

If you have higher-level students, I’d recommend this kind of role playing scenario. I’d create a different fictional setting than mine, as it is tailored to my students’ sense of humour. A fictional setting allows you as the teacher to be the final arbiter of truth, which may be difficult if you choose a real location and the students come to you with questions of a legal nature. With my fictional country, I could answer the hows and whys of the situation while the teams sent out their negotiators.