Canadians gathered at ceremonies across the country for the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance on Wednesday, and Prince Albert Pride members hope it will lead to lasting change and acceptance.
Roughly a dozen people came out to the evening ceremony at the Mann Art Gallery, as organizers read off the names of those killed in anti-transgender violence in North America during the last year.
“(We’re) really wanting to make sure that that the people on our list are acknowledged in the most respectful way possible, that this isn’t just thought of as people on a list, or statistics, but really bring awareness that these were real people,” Prince Albert pride secretary Jennifer Lenny Brockman said. “That was one thing that was going through my mind in thinking about this event: wanting to bring honour.”
None of the victims remembered on Wednesday were Canadian, although Brockman said that doesn’t necessarily mean Canada has a spotless record. Some transgender men and women keep their identities secret from their families and loved ones so they are not recorded as transgender deaths. In other cases, families and loved ones choose not to identify someone as transgender.
Regardless, organizers hope the day of remembrance brings peace to the transgender community, and helped attendees understand how important their support is.
“Being able to hear these names and hear worldwide about the deaths and how people have died in the trans community, I’m hoping that people will take away that this is really something of importance,” Brockman said.
The Prince Albert Police Service had the strongest contingent in attendance out of any civic or municipal organization. Chief Jon Bergen spoke on behalf of the four members present and told those present their goal was to make everyone feel safe in the community.
“When I came today, I was happy to hear there was nobody from Canada (killed),” Bergen said during his brief remarks. “But, even one (death) is too many.”
More than 60 per cent of people killed in anti-transgender violence were sex workers, and the vast majority were black. Brockman said that’s a major concern for activists everywhere, and showcases the need for more support, whether it be through educational campaigns, victims service groups or improved healthcare.
The First Transgender Day of Remembrance was held in 1999 following the murder of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was stabbed to death in 1998. Prince Albert held its first Transgender Day of Remembrance in 2016.