Another World is Possible, Montreal Massacre Vigil, Women In Crisis, Guelph, ON

anotherworldAs a long term volunteer for Guelph Women in Crisis and a mother with a daughter in university, I was motivated to respond to the opportunity to make a piece of art for the 2009 vigil honouring the 14 young women who were massacred at Ecole Polytechnique in 1989. Events like this affect the community and, in this case the whole country. Targeting women for pursing their education shocked us all and shook our sense of being safe in the world. 

The plaster roll figures emerged as I wrapped wet plaster around chicken wire to give the forms structure. The wrapped was somehow soothing and felt protective and sheltering.  Adding the threaded rod enclosure made a cocoon like space that reminded me of the sacred space activated around ceremonial circles. 

At the same time, the figures are undeniably veiled and immobilized in their mummy-like wrappings.  One minute protected, the next helplessly trapped.  So many women respond to fear by holding themselves in – by containing their light or essence in order to feel safer.

The work came alive with the signing of personal messages by participants in the vigil.  Another World is Possible was made specifically for the vigil and then donated to Guelph Wellington Women in Crisis for use in future vigils. Lest we forget ….  Janet

Guelph Mercury, Dec. 7, 2009, Thana Dharmarajah Front page image of “Another World is Possible”, Mixed Media Sculpture by Janet Stanley being signed at a Guelph City Hall vigil to mark the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.

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Memorial for Ecole Polytechnique victims highlights violence against women.  When 14 bright, young women were gunned down in Canada’s worst mass shooting, Stefanie Else was just six months old. She didn’t watch the horrific events reported through media outlets. Until a few weeks ago, she wasn’t even aware of the events of Dec. 6, 1989, when a 25-year old armed with a semi-automatic rifle entered Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal and opened fire on female engineering students. Marc Lepine was frustrated with the increasing presence of women in higher education. 

“I don’t understand how somebody could kill another human being.”  Elsey said Sunday evening, moments before a vigil to mark the 20th anniversary of the Montreal massacre began at Guelph City Hall. Unfortunately, through personal experience Elsey has come to understand more about violence against women. Nearly five years ago, the 20-year-old endured a five-month relationship filled with physical and emotional abuse.  “There are so many warning signs and you don’t know what to look for and it’s so hard to leave at that point”, she said.  On stage, Elsey shared her story of abuse with about 100 people that gathered in the lobby of city hall. She spoke of being 16 and meeting a man who convinced her she didn’t need to listen to her parents. 

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Giving and sharing are the foundation of my practice and I'm delighted to be able to support organizations like the Unstoppable Foundation which strives to ensure every child has access to education.  Over the years I have donated works of art in support of several hospitals, survivor groups, environmental and gallery fundraisers like the MacDonald Stewart Art Gallery now known as The Art Gallery of Guelph.