Breadcrumb trail

Violence:  Lived Reality for Women and Girls

A statement by the Ombudsman on National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

Today we remember:

Geneviève Bergeron
Maryse Laganière
Hélène Colgan
Maryse Leclair
Nathalie Croteau
Anne-Marie Lemay
Barbara Daigneault
Sonia Pelletier
Anne-Marie Edward
Michèle Richard
Maud Haviernick
Annie St-Arneault
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz
Annie Turcotte

These fourteen women, thirty-one years ago, were lined up and murdered at Ecole Polytechnique because of their gender.  It took that horrendous event to bring attention to the fact that male violence against women and girls is a lived reality everyday for too many.

While anyone in Canada can experience violence, women and girls, Indigenous women and girls, lesbian, gay bisexual and two-spirited people, women living with a disability and women living in rural and remote regions, are at greater risk of male violence.  And, according to 2018 police-related data, women accounted for almost 8 in 10 victims of intimate partner violence.

Research has shown that violence against women is often unique in terms of the type of violence, the relationship of the accused to the victim, and where violence occurs. Reports have shown that during the COVID-19 pandemic, this combination of factors has led to a disturbing increase in gender-based violence with it being more likely to be hidden.

On the International Day of Action on Violence Against Women (November 25th) and the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, I released the results of my review of the “effectiveness” of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights (CVBR) its first five years in force.

Following a review of victims’ complaints to my office, meetings with victims, academics, organizations supporting victims and other stakeholders, I am calling on the Government of Canada to strengthen the CVBR by putting victims at the centre of the criminal justice system, which will help those who have experienced violence by:

  • giving victims the opportunity to seek legal and administrative remedies if they believe their rights have been overlooked;
  • requiring the automatic provision of information by criminal justice professionals;
  • guaranteeing support services and assistance for victims;
  • collecting nationally consistent data aligned with the rights enumerated in the Act; and
  • assisting victims with the collection of court-ordered restitution for the losses they have suffered.

When the CVBR was passed, it specified that a Parliamentary Committee review the law in five years.  The time is up and I ask you to contact your Member of Parliament or Senator to ensure this review takes place. 


Heidi Illingworth
Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime