For many of us, this year’s commemoration of December 6 feels particularly pressing and poignant.

We are very much aware of the many, many thousands of girls and women whom we are commemorating, who have been abused, attacked, beaten, murdered, violated, raped, shunned or harassed - simply because they are female. Racism, as in the in case of more than 1,000 missing and murdered First Nations, Métis and Inuit women in Canada intersects with sexism and misogyny, and compounds the force and rate of violence, as do other intersecting identities such as class and ability. 

These days, conversations are so often dominated by the subject of violence against girls and women, and the silence associated with it. High profile events have forced us yet again to dissect and examine the recently exposed cruelty of a number of men.

Compounding long-held traditions, these men brandished their power over those who are vulnerable, believing in the immutability of gender inequity and social impunity.

Their sexist hubris is being challenged, and millions of women are inspired to break the silence and bravely speak out.

And then again, this week, we reel with pain as details of the life of a mother and sons murdered by the abusive husband and father emerge. 

This tragedy brings into sharp relief, yet again, that COPA’s work, and that of our feminist colleagues needs to remain front and centre. These acts of brutality, abuse and violence force us to recognize that there is still so much work to be done.

From its inception, COPA has dedicated itself to preventing violence against women in order to break the cycle of violence. Recognizing individual and systemic power imbalances as central to any abusive act helps us understand how violence against women is integral to sexism, to violence against girls, and to violence against children, as well as to racism, homophobia, ableism, xenophobia…and to multiple forms of abuse and discrimination.

Taking stock of this, we are faced with compelling evidence of the need to start early to break the cycle of violence, and be visionary, offering a truly different way of being to young people, to girls, and to boys.

Unfortunately, self-defense courses for girls and women are still crucial, as are meaningful discussions with young people about power, rights, responsibilities and consent.

Fostering the principles of empowerment, children’s rights, women’s rights, human rights and social justice is the logical result of that analysis, and the lynchpin of all our work.

COPA is proud of its commitment and dedication to preventing violence, as we enter our 20th year. And we feel proud of all that we, and our passionate colleagues in the feminist movement have accomplished these past decades – as well as the inroads we continue to make each and every day.

Join us in our commitment and dedication to the future. We can break the cycle of violence by promoting the right of girls, boys, women, and all people, to be safe, strong and free.