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National day of remembrance:  

Images of lit candles and text reading National Day of Remembrance & Action on Violence Against Women December 6, 2019

About this resource list


In 1991, the Parliament of Canada established December 6 as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. December 6 marks the anniversary of the 1989 murders of 14 young students at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal. Each student was targeted and killed because she was female.

This list represents a sampling of scholarly, creative, and activist resources related to violence against women and gender-based violence.

Please note: Some of the resources in this guide may contain discussions or scenes of sexual and physical violence or representations of trauma which may be painful for some readers/viewers – please exercise care

 

Information & Help


National Film Board of Canada


Film still from

A Better Man

Written and directed by Lawrence Jackman and Attiya Khan
National Film Board of Canada
2017

Still image from the film,

After the Montreal Massacre

Directed by Gerry Rogers; Produced by Nicole Hubert 
National Film Board of Canada
1990

Film still from this river

this river

Written and directed by Erika MacPherson & Katherena Vermette​
National Film Board of Canada
2016

Still from the film Heels to Heal

Heels to Heal

Directed by Eileen Francis 
National Film Board of Canada
2017

Film still from Stronghearted

Stronghearted

Written and directed by Jodie Martinson
National Film Board of Canada
2012

Film still from Beyond December 6

Beyond December 6

Directed by Catherine Fol
National Film Board of Canada
1991

Still image from the film

Finding Dawn

Written and directed by Christine Welsh
Produced by Svend-Erik Eriksen
National Film Board of Canada
2009

Film still from Gender Matters: A Virtual Discussion on Violence Against Women

Gender Matters: A Virtual Discussion on Violence Against Women

Directed by Dan Thornhill
National Film Board of Canada
2017

Film still from Namrata

Namrata

Written and directed by Shazia Javed
National Film Board of Canada
2009

 

How to be an ally


Fiction

Cover image from Halfbreed, depicting the author's photographic portrait.

Halfbreed

A new, fully restored edition of the essential Canadian classic. An unflinchingly honest memoir of her experience as a Métis woman in Canada, Maria Campbell's Halfbreed depicts the realities that she endured and, above all, overcame. Originally published in 1973, this account bravely explores the poverty, oppression, alcoholism, addiction, and tragedy Maria endured throughout her childhood and into her early adult life, underscored by living in the margins of a country pervaded by hatred, discrimination, and mistrust. Laced with spare moments of love and joy, this is a memoir of family ties and finding an identity in a heritage that is neither wholly Indigenous or Anglo; of strength and resilience; of indominatable spirit. This edition of Halfbreed includes a new introduction written by Indigenous (Métis) scholar Dr. Kim Anderson detailing the extraordinary work that Maria has been doing since its original publication 46 years ago, and an afterword by the author looking at what has changed, and also what has not, for Indigenous people in Canada today. Restored are the recently discovered missing pages from the original text of this groundbreaking and significant work.

Cover image from The Testaments depicting a cloaked and hooded female.

The Testaments

When the van door slammed on Offred's future at the end of The Handmaid's Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her--freedom, prison or death. With The Testaments, the wait is over. Margaret Atwood's sequel picks up the story more than fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.

Cover image of the book

Split Tooth

A girl grows up in Nunavut in the 1970s. She knows joy and love. She knows boredom and bullying. She knows the tedium of the everyday and the seductive energy of the animal world. She knows the ravages of alcohol and violence. When she becomes pregnant, she must navigate all this. Veering between the grittiest features of a small arctic town, the electrifying proximity of the animal world and the ravishing world of myth, Tanya Tagaq explores a world where the distinctions between good and evil, animal and human, real and imagined lose their meaning, but the guiding power of love remains.

Cover image of Speak depicting a female head and torso made of tree branches.

Speak

From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether.

Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication.

Cover image from Her Body and Other Parties.

Her Body and Other Parties

In "Her Body and Other Parties", Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women's lives and the violence visited upon their bodies. A wife refuses her husband's entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store's prom dresses. One woman's surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella "Especially Heinous," Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naïvely assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgängers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes. Earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, queer and caustic, comic and deadly serious, "Her Body and Other Parties" swings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment. 

Cover image from Monkey Beach showing a landscape featuring water and shoreline.

Monkey Beach

In "Monkey Beach" Haisla writer, Eden Robinson, offers a rich celebration of life in the Native settlement of Kitamaat, on the coast of British Columbia. It is the morning after the narrator’s brother has gone missing at sea; the mood is tense in the family house, as speculations remain unspoken. Jimmy is a prospective Olympic swimmer, seventeen years old and on the edge of proposing to his beautiful girlfriend Karaoke. As his elder sister, Lisa, faces possible disaster, she chain-smokes and drifts into thoughts of their lives so far. She recalls the time when she and Jimmy saw the sasquatch, or b’gwus – and this sighting introduces the novel's fascinating undercurrent of characters from the spirit world. These ghostly presences may strike the reader as mysterious or frightening, but they provide Lisa with guidance through a difficult coming of age. 

Cover image from the book Beloved

Beloved: A Novel

Sethe, an escaped slave living in post-Civil War Ohio with her daughter and mother-in-law, is haunted persistently by the ghost of the dead baby girl whom she sacrificed.

Cover image from Celia's Song, featuring a forest of evergreen trees.

Celia's Song

Mink is a witness, a shape shifter, compelled to follow the story that has ensnared Celia and her village, on the West coast of Vancouver Island in Nu:Chahlnuth territory. Celia is a seer who - despite being convinced she's a little "off" - must heal her village with the assistance of her sister, her mother and father, and her nephews. While mink is visiting, a double-headed sea serpent falls off the house front during a fierce storm. The old snake, ostracized from the village decades earlier, has left his terrible influence on Amos, a residential school survivor. The occurrence signals the unfolding of an ordeal that pulls Celia out of her reveries and into the tragedy of her cousin's granddaughter. Each one of Celia's family becomes involved in creating a greater solution than merely attending to her cousin's granddaughter. "Celia's Song" relates one Nu:Chahlnuth family's harrowing experiences over several generations, after the brutality, interference, and neglect resulting from contact with Europeans.

Cover from The Handmaid's Tale featuring a red cloak on the ground.

The Handmaid's Tale

A look at the near future presents the story of Offred, a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, once the United States, an oppressive world where women are no longer allowed to read and are valued only as long as they are viable for reproduction.

Cover image from

Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You

Deirdre is a first-year female engineering student at Aquitaine, who takes a Women's Studies course as an elective. Marin, a student at Cantech, ponders what it means to be a female engineering student in such a chilly gendered climate. Jenean, a francophone female journalist working in both languages, is feisty and urbane, a feminist who longs for peace between the sexes even as she ponders splitting from her live-in partner. She finds herself on a killer's target list of 19 women. Set in a tragic historic moment, on two college campuses fraught with gendered antagonisms, this novel bears witness to the infamous "Montreal Massacre," when, on December 6, 1989, fourteen female engineering students were murdered in their classrooms. Through the braided narratives of these three women as they happen headlong into the tragedy, this novel examines the enduring effects of the massacre's 24 minutes of inarticulate inhumanity.

Cover image from Birdie: A Novel featuring a drawing of a woman.

Birdie: A Novel

A darkly comic and moving novel about the universal experience of recovering from wounds of the past, informed by the lore and knowledge of Cree traditions. Bernice Meetoos, a Cree woman, leaves her home in Northern Alberta following tragedy and travels to Gibsons, BC. Part road trip, dream quest and travelogue, the novel touches on the universality of women's experience, regardless of culture or race.