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Law school sculpture honours the memory of victims of gender-based violence

Lest We Forget statue featuring the names of 135 women was installed 20 years ago
December 8, 2014
Artist Teresa Posyniak with her sculpture, Lest We Forget, installed in the Faculty of Law 20 years ago. Photo by Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

Artist Teresa Posyniak with her sculpture, Lest We Forget, installed in the Faculty of Law 20 years ago. Photo by Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

In the hall of the law school, it stands. Paper, wood and Styrofoam. Passed by hundreds of students every week. Catching the sun at the right time of day. Stoic.

On Dec. 5, students, faculty and staff paused to remember the reason it stands in Murray Fraser Hall: to remember the 135 names, all victims of gender-based violence. They took time to reflect on the meaning of the Lest We Forget sculpture, created by Teresa Posyniak, which is as relevant today as it was when it was installed 20 years ago.

“As a law school, our perpetual quest is for justice,” said Ian Holloway, dean of the Faculty of Law. “Memory of injustice is something that helps us achieve justice. This sculpture is a constant reminder to students and professors about that quest.”

In addition to the names of the 14 women killed at L’École Polytechnique in 1989, the sculpture includes the names of Aboriginal women and sex trade workers who were the victims of gender-based violence. The piece serves to honour all victims, but also to draw attention to the inadequacies of the legal system which is supposed to protect all Canadians, and the reason why its placement in the Faculty of Law is so meaningful.

“I named the sculpture Lest We Forget as a tribute to women in Canada who died in a battle fought in the most intimate circumstances — women murdered by men claiming to love them, or by violent men killing women simply because they are women,” said Posyniak. “I wanted people to read these names, to be shocked and saddened by them, and to inspire them to do something, either on a personal or political level to stop this violence.”

As Jennifer Koshan, professor in the Faculty of Law pointed out, “Today is about remembrance, but it is also about action. I encourage all Canadians to think about how we can take action to help put an end to gender-based violence.”

Lest We Forget can be seen on the second floor of Murray Fraser Hall, outside of the Bennett Jones Law Library.

Additional resource

Lest We Forget sculpture information

Can art change anything? (a blog post about Lest We Forget by Teresa Posyniak)

Hear Teresa Posyniak’s speech at the ceremony (SoundCloud)