Demetre James Politis
Rabia Khedr was doubly invested in Humber’s memorials that both honoured the 14 women killed in Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique and disabled persons who are victims of violence.
The commissioner with the Ontario Human Rights Commission is legally blind and a woman.
“I am a Muslim, Punjabi, Pakistani, Canadian, woman, wife, mother, activist, advocate, and I happen to have a disability,” said Khedr, who is also a founder of the Canadian Association of Muslims with Disabilities.
She was the keynote speaker at the Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women and Persons with Disabilities event on Wednesday at the IGNITE Student Centre.
Khedr recalled the dramatic moment from her past when she found out about the Ecole Polytechnique massacre of 1989 where 14 women were killed by an armed student.
“I remember when the shooting rampage happened, and I remember this ugly, ugly feeling of ‘Why those 14 women?’” she asked. “It took the government two years to declare a national day of remembrance. Two years is a long time.”
“We know that there is a substantial number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and still we can’t get our act together on in terms of a national inquiry,” Khedr said.
“Young women are at the most risk. Women in school spaces, colleges, universities and high schools are at the greatest risk of violence,” she said.
The event included a segment intended to symbolically demonstrate Humber’s commitment to ending gender-based violence with a banner signing.
Zahra Brown, Equity Generalist at Humber’s Human Rights, Equity and Diversity office who has a hearing disability, told the audience about the importance of change.
“When it comes to change, we must look at the differences of our reality regardless of our race, our sexuality and ability,” Brown said. “It’s really, really important for us to make change and take some action.”