Women protesting in 2012 on the anniversary of the massacre. Image courtesy of Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press.

#NeverBlameTheVictim is the campaign targeted towards ending violence against women, and reflecting upon it’s lasting impacts. This campaign was run by YWCA Canada, recently concluding on December 6th, the 27 year anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.

This day claimed the lives of 14 women in a college shooting by Marc Lépine, who went on his rampage with claims he was fighting against feminism, and his suicide note claimed feminists ruined his life, so he turned onto the young, educated women, mostly engineer majors throughout the twenty minute ordeal. Many even note further deaths a direct cause of Lépine, after PTSD victims later committed suicide, noting the horrific day as the reason.

After the massacre, gun regulations were pushed to become stricter, but in the past few years, registries for certain types of weapons have been declined by conservative politicians. The YWCA site references the recent American presidential election and the treatment of victims by the justice system as examples of recent perpetuations of violence against women.

Enter, Blamé part of their Rose campaign. Blamé was launched on Instagram and Youtube as a new fashion line “for your questionable lifestyle”. After generating some attention, the company then invited influencers and bloggers to a pop up shop in Toronto to launch the brand. At first it seemed normal. A sample space with cute leather minis, cocktail accessories, dresses, jeans, lingerie, and even lipstick. But upon looking at the “price” tags, the names of the pieces, such as the “Too Much Wine Glass” and “Shameless Lingerie Set” were revealed.

A tumbler on display at the pop-up shop. Image courtesy of Rae Ann Fera.

These names were accompanied by either a tweet from an online user rationalizing rape as the victim’s fault, or a statement from a judge/politician also proposing that rape should be the responsibility of the victim, not the criminal perpetrator. The Blamé logo was then revealed to its full extent, with the accent mark extending into a red X across the word blame, and the hashtag #NeverBlameTheVictim launched.

The site, set up like an online boutique, includes all the tags from the pop up, with the images of the items turning from display to disheveled upon selecting to shop it. The site also includes background on the movement, ways to get involved, and support groups and phone lines for survivors of sexual assault and rape.

The Rose campaign as a whole spanned from November 25th to December 6th, marking two major national days against the violence harming women. It was founded after the massacre targeting the perpetuation as women as a problem, and the subsequent punishments inflicted on them, continued.

They also focus on the missing and killed First Nation, Inuit, and Métis women whose cases aren’t covered or solved. They call on swift and serious police action, and most importantly justice at all levels, for the survivors of these crimes, no matter their race, class, education, alcohol blood level, and wardrobe choice or dance routines.

The storefront of the pop-up shop. Image courtesy of Jennifer Horn.

The campaign ended with a light the night, in which major public spaces and small ones alike lit their lights red the show support for the cause. Institutes like Science World in Vancouver and Montreal City Hall participated.

But that isn’t the end. The campaign hashtag is just half of what they supply for a social media storm. They supply infographics on their site about the rate of rapes in Canada, from how many are reported to which ones actually end with a conviction. They encourage citizens to Tweet them at their given Members of Parliament.

The original rose button, created in 1989 after the massacre and lending its name to the campaign stated this: First Mourn, Then Work for Change. This has been the motto for women and other targeted groups since the election. So we’ve mourned, and now we work. We owe it to the women of 1989 and today’s sisters too.

Coverage by Cassandra Gagnon for The Untitled Magazine.

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