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Standing against gender-based violence - a message from Kathy MacNeil, President & CEO

Posted on: December 6, 2021

​I remember December 6, 1989 as a sad and shocking day when 14 young women at Polytechnique Montréal were murdered.

On National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women we remember those lives lost, and those among us now who continue to face violence, harassment and discrimination because of their gender identity and expression. 

We all deserve to live, work and study in safe environments free from violence. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted gaps in the systems designed to keep people safe, and created challenges for people experiencing violence as well as the organizations supporting them. 

According to Island Health’s Forensic Nurse Examiner​ program, early reporting suggests interpersonal and domestic violence has increased since the beginning of the pandemic. Other organizations supporting survivors of gender-based violence report similar trends. We also know many incidents are not disclosed, as reporting is often not seen as an option for survivors.

Although we’ve made progress, gender-based violence continues and has catastrophic impacts on individuals, families, communities and society as a whole. I was personally devastated to learn of the death of a woman I know who was working from home during the early days of COVID-19 and was killed by her partner.

Island Health stands against all forms of violence and is committed to providing safe environments where people work and receive care. Collective action against gender-based violence is necessary; we are all responsible for creating safe workplaces, homes and communities. 

December 6 falls within the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. Add your voice to the conversation on social media by sharing the ways you are being part of the solution to end gender-based violence by using the hashtag #16Days.

We are in this together, and we’re here to support. If you or someone you know is the survivor of gender-based violence, know you are not alone and there is support available to you.

~ Kathy MacNeil, CEO, Island Health


Support Services:

If you or someone you know is experiencing harassment, abuse or any form of violence, help is available:

  • Call 9-1-1 in an emergency
  • Call the Victim Link BC support line: 1-800-563-0808 
  • Validate a person’s experience by saying “I believe you” and asking if there is any way to help
  • Island Health has professional and caring staff that offer confidential services for Sexual Assault & Relationship Violence. If you or anyone you know has experienced sexual assault or intimate partner violence, our Forensic Nurse Examiners (FNEs) are available 24/7 at any Island Health Emergency Room. FNEs can see survivors up to seven days after an assault and medical care is 100% confidential. To learn more, please visit Island Health’s FNE website to watch Island Health’s four-part video series about forensic nursing.