Remembering Women Murdered by Men: Memorials Across Canada


272 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography
ISBN 1-894549-53-8
DDC 362.88'082'0971





Reviewed by Janet Arnett

Janet Arnett is the former campus manager of adult education at Ontario’s Georgian College. She is the author of Antiques and Collectibles: Starting Small, The Grange at Knock, and 673 Ways to Save Money.


More than an inventory of monuments, as the title suggests, this book
tackles the “central scandal of our society,” the war on women.
Certainly the monuments are listed and described—granite boulders,
sculptures, plaques, benches, gardens, trees—their locations given and
inscriptions transcribed.

These memorials did not come into existence easily. There was the
struggle to achieve agreement on the nature of the monument, to
fundraise, to negotiate location, to agree on design and inscription,
and especially to deal with the (often strong) opposition to the very
idea of a memorial to murdered women. There is the ongoing struggle to
maintain them, fend off vandalism, and fund routine maintenance. The
underlying purpose of all this effort is to bring public attention to
femicide. Society, the authors believe, is in denial about the epidemic
of violence against women. There’s a need to encourage the
understanding that the women memorialized did not “lose their lives”
(as they might lose an umbrella), they were murdered. Monuments and
memorials, then, need to be explicit in order to be effective. Care must
be taken that “the prettification of memory” doesn’t obscure the
horror of violence.

This book strives to make the existence and location of more than 30
memorials more visible, and to recognize the efforts of the women who
created them. It tells their stories, their disagreements and
compromises, their artistic statements, and their belief in the value of
public “memory making.”

There’s a Canada-wide selection of memorials, from British Columbia
to Nova Scotia. A photo of each supports the descriptive text. Most are
in some way linked to the murder of 14 women at a Montreal university in
1989. A strong chapter recognizes that Aboriginal women are victims of
systemic violence, and have their own unique ceremonies of healing and

While the physical memorials provide the framework for the book, the
real subject is the political significance of public remembrances,
especially for marginalized groups (poor, Aboriginal). The memorials
have a consciousness- raising function, acknowledging violence against
women in a visible and permanent form and taking a step toward change:
remembering the past and focusing the activism needed to change the

The subject is powerful and the approach is noteworthy in that it is a
strong example of collaborative research and co-operative writing. It
records and analyses women’s “resistance memorializing” and is
respectful and supportive of their work.


Cultural Memory Group, The., “Remembering Women Murdered by Men: Memorials Across Canada,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 12, 2024,