Across Quebec on Friday, thousands of people marched to demand action against a rise in domestic violence in recent weeks.
“It’s enough,” people shouted repeatedly.
It’s the cry of thousands hoping those in power hear their message: the province needs to take stronger action to prevent more deaths of women due to domestic violence.
“Change please,” said Maude Richard, a survivor of domestic violence. “Give money, resources, make this a real problem because so far it doesn’t seem to be.”
On Thursday, the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) determined that the deaths of 43 year-old Paningayak-Naluiyuk and her partner, Peter Ainalik, 44 were a murder-suicide.
On March 25, police discovered their bodies inside a home in Ivujivik, a small, remote community in northern Quebec.
Paningayak-Naluiyuk is the eighth woman killed in eight weeks in Quebec as a result of suspected domestic violence.
“It’s infuriating, it’s saddening thinking that those things could have been avoided given more resources,” Richard told Global News.
Advocates say the issue has become worse during the pandemic — because restrictions make it easier for the abuser to control their victims.
Resources helping women say they are are overwhelmed.
Manon Monastesse, the executive director of the Quebec federation of women’s shelters, says the number of deaths in recent weeks is shocking, noting the province tends to record 12 femicides over the course of a normal full year.
Monastesse, one of the organizers of the protest in Montreal, says the 36 shelters in her organization are at 97 per cent of their capacity.
She says the effort to fight violence against women will need serious action from the provincial government and broader social change.
“It’s not sufficient,” said Kate Conner, who has experienced domestic violence. “We need universal basic income so women are not in a position to need a man in order to afford rent.
“Especially a woman like me who was a stay-at-home mom. We need more room in shelters.”
The province has promised it will increase funding and ramp up its efforts to tackle conjugal violence.
In its budget last month, Quebec set aside $4.5 million more per year for more than 100 shelters in the province.
Quebec’s deputy premier and public security minister Geneviève Guilbault is taking on the file.
However, the money from the province is about a quarter of what the Quebec’s federation of women’s shelters was asking for.
“At least there’s some action that’s been taken,” said Richard. “More is always better.”
–With files from Global’s Raquel Fletcher and The Canadian Press
Montrealers gather to commemorate the 7 femicides in Quebec
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