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.

Posted in Canada, Commentary, Feminism, Social Issues and tagged , .