It's frightening for a woman to think that her boyfriend,
father, brother, or the guy who lives next door could ever hurt
her or any other woman. However, it happens everyday.
On December 6, 1989, a man walked into a classroom at Montreal's
Ecole Polytechnique, ordered the men to leave, and proceeded
to shoot and kill 14 women, in what is now referred to as the
In 1991, sparked by this horrifying event, a handful of men
in Canada decided they had a responsibility to urge men to speak
out against violence against women. They decided that wearing
a white ribbon would symbolize this opposition. It is a personal
pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent against women.
This idea caught on quickly, and today males across the world,
including male students at Roncalli High in Port Saunders, support
the White Ribbon Campaign.
But some of their female peers don't feel they are sincere in
this pledge of violence against women.
Through posters and information provided by the staff, many
students have gotten the gist of what the White Ribbon Campaign
is about. According to male students at Roncalli, they understand
and respect the pledge they are making when they choose to wear
"Wearing a white ribbon shows that violence against women
is wrong. No one has the right to violate a female under any
circumstance," says Blaine Scanlon, a student at Roncalli.
A grade 12 student at the school, Bryant Mahar added, "The
white ribbon is worn to remember the 14 women killed in the massacre
of 89. It shows that I'm against violence against women.
It shows that I would never hurt a woman or keep quiet about
a person who does."
These male students may know what they are wearing the ribbons
for but female students at Roncalli don't feel that this is evident
through their words and actions.
"If male students weren't informed by staff what the
White Ribbon Campaign was, I don't think they would care enough
about it to learn the meaning behind it," says Heather Lavers,
a student at Roncalli. "In everyday life, they don't seem
to get involved or really care if someone acts violently toward
a woman. They think it's somebody else's problem."
Actions may speak louder than words but these female students
feel that neither is present when it comes to violence against
Chantal Gaslard, another Roncalli student, agreed with Lavers.
"I believe that the males in our school are only wearing
the white ribbon because one was given to them," says Gaslard.
"They don't really believe in what they are pledging by
wearing the ribbons, half of them don't even know what it means
to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against
Both Lavers and Gaslard agreed that the actions of their male
friends and other male students at the school don't reflect the
White Ribbon pledge.
Months at a time are set aside for Breast Cancer Awareness
and Lupus Awareness. However at many high schools, it seems that
a week, and in some cases only a day, are set aside for the White
Ribbon Campaign. Isn't violence against women important enough
to have a month set aside throughout these schools?
One week is not sufficient if the White Ribbon Campaign is
to drive its point home with male students. A month's activities
would help to ensure that students understand what they're pledging
by wearing a white ribbon, according to high school student Victoria
"This amount of time would allow schools to better prepare
and offer activities which could help male students appreciate
the meaning behind the ribbons they wear. We can't really expect
them to know what the campaign is all about if we only talk about
it for one day," says Plowman.
The White Ribbon campaign has many goals it wishes to achieve
each year. One of them involves ensuring that women feel that
they are supported by men in some way in their fight to be protected
against violence. It appears that this goal has not, so far,
been reached throughout high schools.
But it is possible that if a month is set aside throughout
high schools for the White Ribbon Campaign, female students can
begin to look forward to the day when the whole concept and goal
of the White Ribbon Campaign is being carried over into the everyday
life of all males everywhere.