News / Ottawa

'How many bodies have to pile up:' Ottawa protest calls for end to gender-based violence

Outside the Basil Borutski murder trial, a concerned citizen group was demanding changes to the system to help end gender-based violence.

Irene Compton of the Minwaashin Lodge Aboriginal Women’s Support Centre, left, leads the crowd in a grandmother’s lullaby, with event organizer Holly Campbell.

Jesse Cnockaert / For Metro

Irene Compton of the Minwaashin Lodge Aboriginal Women’s Support Centre, left, leads the crowd in a grandmother’s lullaby, with event organizer Holly Campbell.

As the Basil Borutski murder trial is continued Thursday at the Ottawa Court House a concerned citizen group called for changes to the system to help end gender-based violence.

The trial of Borutski, accused of murdering three women in and near Wilno, Ontario in 2015, continued Thursday, and in a show of solidarity with the victims, a group called BecauseWilno gathered at the nearby Human Rights Monument on Elgin Street. The group had speakers who were there to say the criminal justice system isn’t doing enough to protect women.

"What is it going to take to get this government, and every government, to work in concerted action to address the problems we know exists in order to keep women safe?," said Leighann Burns, executive director of the Harmony House women’s shelter in Ottawa.

“I've been working in shelters for almost 30 years. Thirty years hence, it's not that different. What is it going to take? I'm not sure how many bodies have to pile up."

BecauseWilno demanded toughening of laws and bail conditions for cases involving gender-based violence, enhanced training of rural police services, crown attorneys and judges, as well as more support services for victims.

"If we can shine a light on this during the proceedings we will not only maintain the focus on the victims and their families but also the systemic issues we feel need to be addressed," said event organizer Holly Campbell.

On the BecauseWilno Facebook event page, the group had written that in numerous cases charges against Borutski were dismissed, and on two occasions, prison sentences significantly reduced.

"He had minimal sentencing, the police often didn't honor the restraining orders, things like that. A lot of people knew there was potential there, but didn't act on that," said Michelle Lemieux, Community Development Coordinator with the Eastern Ottawa Resource Centre. "It's very heart breaking and this is just one of many examples highlighting how this is a serious issue."

More on Metronews.ca