Statement on Mass Shootings In Nova Scotia, Canada, 18-19 April 2020

 

In the history of violence, the perpetrator of the deadliest mass shooting in Canada’s history had been inflicting on those around him for years, one indisputable fact draws most attention: he was known as a violent man who hoarded weapons.

 

Can we collectively imagine a society where we act effectively on such knowledge?

 

The Transition House Association of Nova Scotia lends its voice to the multiple calls for a public inquiry incorporating a feminist analysis into the events and the responses preceding and surrounding the mass shooting. This will help us understand the systemic, structural, cultural and communal failures which laid the groundwork for the moment where the gunman decided to take up arms and attack his partner, neighbours, friends, and local residents.

 

The blame for his decisions is his, and his alone. But we need to strengthen our societal responses to acts of aggression and violence, before they escalate to such horrific levels. And we need to acknowledge the male entitlement, gender hostility, and glorification of violence and power shaped the murderous actions of the gunman, and others like him.

 

Domestic violence and hatred of women is a key common factor in recent mass murders. Therefore, any inquiry must focus on system responses to domestic violence, and the failure of those responses to constrain and contain the perpetrator.

 

Every day we work with women who are vulnerable to violence, and who have been left with no protection. Victims and survivors are often reluctant to involve authorities in situations of domestic violence. Authority responses may leave women feeling confused, betrayed and even more harmed and vulnerable. Our society is quick to disbelieve women when they claim to suffer violence, or blame them for not getting out or not seeking support. We need to ensure that when she does, we believe her and support her. We need better protection measures offered to these women, and more effective responses to the violent men in their lives.

 

It is time for change. There is enough research, enough statistics, enough training modules, working papers, articles, and expert opinions. We know about the red flags and the warning signs, we know the connection between weapons and intimate partner violence, we know it all, and we have known them for too long.

 

Let us engage all systems at local, provincial and federal levels. This is not the time for divisive tactics of finger-pointing and divergence of responsibility. All are responsible towards victims of domestic violence.  And all levels of governance should be involved in a public inquiry into the mass shooting.

 

Let’s work together to end violence against women.