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On November 20 events will take place across the country as Canadians mark the twelfth annual International Transgendered Day of Remembrance.

CUPE National President Paul Moist and National Secretary-Treasurer Claude Généreux emphasized the importance of the date and encouraged members to participate in local events in a joint letter to CUPE chartered organizations.

It is important for our locals, members, leadership and staff to recognize and fight for the human rights of transgenders and transsexuals” said Moist and Généreux. “Fear and hatred combined with hostility toward the very existence of transgender and transsexual people must be overcome.”

Winnipeg’s Rainbow Resource Centre notes that the special day “serves as an opportunity to recognize, honour, embrace, celebrate, and remember the people who encounter or endure discrimination, prejudice, persecution, isolation, or violence because of their [perceived] gender identity and/or expression.”

Violence against transgender people is a serious issue that often isn’t covered by the mainstream media. Studies show that sixty per cent of transgender people reported being victims of violence, according to a recent article in the Montreal Gazette.

The day of remembrance— which began as a candlelight vigil in 1999 in San Francisco following the murder of Rita Hester—has grown tremendously over the past eleven years, and is now celebrated around the world.

Events will take place in most Canadian cities, with CUPE members participating in many of them.

To find out what’s happening in your city, check out this website.

Members of local 2343 at Sage House in Winnipeg will be hosting a table and serving cake as part of CUPE Manitoba’s RESPECT campaign at a rally and vigil hosted by the Rainbow Resource Centre.  

On November 19 trans activist Erica Williams participated in a panel discussion on LGBT issues in the workplace at CUPE BC’s human rights conference.  Williams’ spoke on the subject of the gender continuum and highlighted the importance of the day of remembrance, encouraging audience members to participate in local events.

In Ottawa there will be a march to Parliament Hill in support of Bill C-389, a private member’s bill introduced by New Democrat LGBTT critic Bill Siksay. The bill amends the Canada Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code of Canada to include proper references to gender identity and gender expression.

We are on track toward ensuring the full protection of transgender and transsexual Canadians under the law” said Siksay.

Bill C-389 passed its second reading on November 2, and could come up for debate and a vote in the House of Commons by December.

Prior to the march to Parliament Hill some supporters of the transgender community will participate in a flag-raising ceremony with the Ottawa Police Department, while others will take part in a rally at Minto Park. Both groups will join together for the march. The flag-raising ceremony marks the first time that a Canadian police force will officially honour the occasion.

A campaign has been started to encourage people to lend their support to Bill C-389 by emailing their local MP. Click here to send an email and lend your support! It only takes a second.