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A Service of Naming

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					A Service of Naming

December 6, 2008: In Remembrance and Hope

Call to Worship : Leader: On this day, we gather to name the burdens which lay upon our hearts. We name our sorrows as a remembrance of those gone. All: We name the female victims of male violence, keeping their names alive, honouring their lives cut short so brutally. Leader: We name our anger and our fears. All: We name the brokenness of our world, defying its power to create despair and hopelessness. We proclaim our power to change and transform. Leader: We name our hopes and our dreams All: We name our vision for the future, claiming it as ours to shape, reflecting our vision of peace and justice.

Invocation Prayer : O Creator, Advocate, Comforter, the mysterious “I AM”: We know you by so many names – names that reflect Your Grace, Your Compassion and Your Love. We call upon you now by that name for you which resonates within our souls. Be with us today as we claim the power that lies within the act of naming. In naming our memories – we honour the past. In naming our fears – we purge them of their power. In naming our hopes – we bring them to life. We ask this in your Name, Amen. 2 December 6, 2008: A Service of Naming

Naming as Remembering : Leader: Today we have gathered to remember a specific event in time, for it was 18 years ago that a man full of hate entered l’École Polytechnique at the University of Montreal. Fuelled by a rage against feminists, he shot and killed 14 women – engineering and nursing students and one clerk – women who were full of all the potential that life has to offer. In an instant they were murdered, taken from their families, from their friends, from us all. We will never know what these lives might have been, what joys, what triumphs, what challenges, and what accomplishments they might have achieved. But we can still honour the life that was and mourn the future that was stolen. Leader: Now let us take a moment of quiet reflection as we meditate on the lives of these young women, what their loss meant to their families, their colleagues and us as a society. As we do so, I invite you here today to write the name of a woman who you know has been – or is – a victim of violence, and attach it to the tree. (Allow time for participants to reflect and write names on the red ribbons; during this time an instrumentalist or CD could be playing appropriately meditative music.) Naming as empowering : Leader: December 6th is Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. We have remembered – and we shall continue to do so – but now it is time for action. Our action begins by naming those aspects of society that continue to threaten the safety of women, that keep women silent, that keep women December 6, 2008: A Service of Naming 3

disadvantaged. By naming these systemic evils, their power over us is lessened as we claim our own power as women called to action. Reader 1: In our affluent country, there are women who are still living in poverty. According to government sources, the people most at risk are families headed by a single woman, and single women over 65.1 ALL: In our country of abundance, there is no excuse for poverty. It is a burden which weighs heavily on its victims visiting violence to the soul and to the body. Reader 2: In our peaceful country, there are more than 500 missing or murdered aboriginal women. 2 The perpetrators of these crimes escape with impunity. The women may be forgotten by the system ... but not by those who love them. ALL: In our land of stability and prosperity, all citizens are valued under the law. Racism, in its many expressions, is violence to the dignity and self-esteem of its victims and to our society as a whole. Reader 3: In our free and democratic country, there are many women who are forced into modern slavery through human trafficking, who are brought into the country and coerced into prostitution. Women are victimized from within the ranks of our most vulnerable populations:3 young women, immigrants, women of colour, First Nations women, and others.
1 2

Stats Canada website See Amnesty Canada’s 2004 Report “Stolen Sisters: A Human Rights Response to Discrimination and Violence against Aboriginal Women in Canada” 3 For more information see http://www.humantrafficking.ca/indexe2.htm

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December 6, 2008: A Service of Naming

ALL:

In our land founded on the rights and freedoms of all people, human trafficking – whether arising from abroad or from home – is violence to the dignity and autonomy of its victims and to our society as a whole.

Reader 4: In our safe country, as recently as 2004, 50% of women murdered were murdered by a partner or an ex-partner. The percentage of men murdered by a partner or expartner was 8%.4 ALL: In our land of security, women should be safe, especially in their own homes. Domestic violence tears the fabric of relationships, disrupts the development of the victim’s children and threatens family and community as a whole. Reader: Let us name the expressions of violence in our society. Let us name them so that they may not hide beneath complacency and indifference. For violence, a taught behaviour, affects us all as Our Creator’s beloved children. ALL: Let us all never shy away from naming the brokenness of our world. Let us never turn our eyes from the truth of male violence which affects so many of our sisters. Naming as visioning : Leader: Now, my sisters, let us cast our eyes forward. We have named our past – remembering those victims of violence. We have named the evils of our present. Let us now name our hopes for the future. As we unite our voices in song, I invite you all to consider your dreams for our world.
4

“Violence Against Women in Canada by the numbers.” at www.statcan.gc.ca.

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Song: Sisters Let Us Walk Together (by Judith Snowdon) Leader: Now that we have considered our dreams, let us name them. (Participants are invited in a time of quiet meditation to name their hopes for our society for the future by writing them on a piece of white ribbon. Then, in silence or while appropriate music is played, they may approach the tree and attach their ribbon to its branches. )

Sending Forth : Leader: This tree now carries the sorrows and the joys of our hearts It has become a living testament to the lives we have lost and the dreams that we cherish. All: It carries the sorrows we have named it carries the angers and the fears with which we struggle it carries the hopes and the dreams we boldly name for our future.

(Optional: Those who wish may now choose to name the hopes and dreams they have written on the ribbons.) Leader: For by naming these we give them life – ALL: Life that will grow within our nurturing faith life that will blossom within our abundant fellowship life that we carry with us from this place to bear fruit within our world. Amen

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December 6, 2008: A Service of Naming

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Notes / Preparation: A tree: A tree is used in this service (eg. pine, maple, or flowering shrub). It is hoped that, where possible, this tree will be later planted outside, perhaps in the spring. After the service, the tree should be planted in an appropriate public location where it can be a reminder of both the victims of the past and our hopes for the future. Such places might include a Community Centre, Peace Park, Women’s Shelter, Hospital Garden, Church Garden. If that is not possible, an indoor tree (Hibiscus, fig etc) could also be used and later placed in an appropriate public place as a reminder. Finally, if the above options are not practical, an artificial Christmas tree could be used. Ribbons: Organizers will also need to provide red and white ribbons, cut to approx. 7 inches (or more) in length, along with pens and/or markers for participants to use during the service. The 14 women: for the first time, WICC’s liturgy does not suggest reading the names of the 14 women who were killed in Montreal on Dec. 6, 1989. This is in response to a request from one of the mothers, who said she felt it was time for people to remember other names, to honour the women who lose their lives to violence every year. This is a time to recognize the high cost of violence and re-commit ourselves to creating a world where there will be no more need for a day of remembrance and action on violence against women.

This service is written by the Rev. Janet Anstead for the Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada 47 Queen’s Park Crescent East Toronto, ON M5S 2C3 Tel: 416-929-5184 Fax: 416-929-4064 E-mail:wicc@wicc.org Web: www.wicc.org

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December 6, 2008: A Service of Naming


				
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