Vigil held as more break-ins reported at Laval University
Published Wednesday, October 19, 2016 10:17AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 20, 2016 7:45AM EDT
A vigil was held Wednesday night at Laval University in Quebec City in support of sexual violence survivors.
The event was organized after reports of a series of break-ins and sexual assaults that took place at the Alphonse-Marie Parent Pavilion over the weekend.
"We are declaring war on rape culture," said Melanie Lemay, an advocate for sexual assault victims, who was among the speakers at the event.
Minister of Higher Education Helene David and Minister for the Status of Women Lise Theriault were among three ministers attending.
"I think it's very important to be there tonight with the young girls of Université Laval," said Theriault. "It's important to be there and support all the victims."
"I'm not speaking as a minister, I'm speaking as a woman with a past," added David.
The vigil came as Quebec City police set up a command post outside Laval University, aiming to collect information about the incidents.
Fifteen women have filed complaints with police – four of them filed on Tuesday.
Capt. Mario Vezina said that four women were sexually assaulted, and 11 rooms were broken into. In each case, the rooms did not appear to be locked, since there were no signs of forced entry.
Police believe that only one person is responsible for what happened.
The school increased security after the assaults, with a guard on place 24 hours a day and regular patrols of hallways taking place around the clock.
The rector of the school, Denis Brière is facing criticism for not addressing the issue personally on Monday.
Instead, he was away in Montreal and talked to reporters on Tuesday, saying he chose not to talk because he didn't want to interfere with the police investigation.
Brière was booed, jeered and interrupted while speaking at the Wednesday night vigil.
"Me as a rector, the whole direction of the university saying I allowed that? It must not happen on our campus," he said.
Mireille Jean, the Parti Quebecois critic for the status of women, said she was disappointed that Brière did not react sooner.
“I'm a little bit disappointed because the dean didn't do anything at first and it's important for a dean. It's a symbol. It's important for him to say something, to send a strong message that this kind of event, this kind of action is unacceptable,” said Jean.
David was asked Wednesday morning if she thought he'd shown a lack of leadership. She responded by saying she's not responsible for Brière's agenda.
The Parti Quebecois questioned the government in the National Assembly, waiting for a formal strategy on how to prevent and fight sexual violence.
They also want the Liberals to invest more money in fighting sexual violence and for providing resources and support for victims.