Shoe Memorial Guide Template

After years of trying to get the general public to attend anti-violence events and being unsuccessful a group of women decided to take it to the street: we would take it to the public if they would not come to us.

Canada has declared Dec. 6 to be Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women to commemorate the 14 women singled out and killed Dec. 6, 1989  at L’Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal. Given the natural attention media pay to Dec. 6, it was decided to hold our event Dec. 6. That does not mean that a Shoe Memorial cannot be held at another time and place but we recommend holding the event on a day that holds significance to women, such as International Women’s Day, during the 16 Days of Action, etc.

The Shoe Memorial can be adapted to fit the community and resources of the organizer.

The only required items are:

  1. Women’s and girls’  shoes-any shape and style
  2. A list of the names of women who have been killed by violence. There should be a relationship between the number of shoes and the number of women; 1 pair of shoes for each woman commemorated.
  3. An accessible location for the Memorial; preferably in a high foot traffic area.

1. Shoe Collection

Please note that shoes in near new condition from the Vancouver memorial are donated after the event to women in need and we hope that other communities do the same.

-If possible shoe collection should start in early summer as women buy shoes for the new season. This allows for a multi-season selection to be donated.

-Shoe collection can consist of passing flyers by hand or email to women’s groups, friends, offices ect.

-Flyers can be of any style you feel appropriate but Vancouver has found it useful to include a brief description of what the day represents, the purpose of the memorial, the fact the shoes will be donated and where the shoes can be dropped off or a contact number

-Your local media may be interested in doing a small article about the memorial and your need of women’s shoes to create the memorial. Should you involve the media you will need a location open to the public for people to drop off shoes.

-If your memorial is going to be in an open, outside location shoes to be later donated will need to be protected in some way. Vancouver has discovered that bags that bread comes in are the appropriate size for a pair of shoes and a local bakery who donates a roll of clear bags. Note: If shoes are bagged more than 3 weeks ahead of time there is a likely hood of moisture and mildew appearing on the shoes

-Contact your local women’s shelters, transition house, drop in center, etc and ask whether they would like to be a recipient of the shoes and arrange for drop off or pickup after the memorial.

2. Women and girls to commemorate

The purpose of the memorial is to remember those women who due to violence are no longer with us. Due to our Privacy Act there is no central registry listing their names Canada. In Vancouver we have been retrieving information from the major news papers. If you want to be able to list actual women’s names please contact me Pat Kelln at and I can provide you with the names and dates that women and children have been killed by violence in BC and other parts of Canada. Another source would be the internet or your local news paper archives for women and children in your local area.

-names can be inserted in the shoes (1 name per pair of shoes) or as we have done on display boards. Due to cultural concerns of the South Asian population about putting the names in the shoes Vancouver has listed the names and dates on panels of plastic boards (8’ x 4’ “corplas) using indelible/waterproof markers.

-have a nice book/sheet of paper for people to write in information about women and girls that they know of that are not on your list

-if desired and possible a memorial wreath is a nice touch

3. Location

Before approaching locations you will need to decide whether you want

    1. an all day memorial with volunteers present to hand out information or
    2. a shorter display period
    3. a memorial service


If choosing a short display period you may want to ensure you have a memorial service to create a greater impact. In Vancouver we set up at 7am, Memorial Service at 1pm and take down at 3pm. This time frame was chosen to ensure we take advantage of workers on their way to their workplace and during their lunch hour. 1pm was chosen for the memorial service so people could attend on their lunch hour and to maximize our availability to media. People on their way home from work are tired and in a hurry and often to busy to return for a later Memorial Service.

-You should try to pick a high foot traffic area Depending on their location and the weather you are anticipating. Public Art Galleries are a good choice as they see the Shoe Memorial as a temporary art display.

-Set the hours your shoe memorial will be on display. Remember Dec. 6 in Canada is normally cold and it gets dark early. At the end of the day people want to get home and so are less likely to be interested in the memorial

-Sufficient volunteers should be on hand to explain what the Shoe Memorial is for –Dec. 6 National Day of Remembrance and Action for Women who have been killed by violence and the shoes are to visually portray the women who have been killed and to hand out information.

-Information to hand out can be obtained from your local transition house or sexual assault centre. If you are unaware how to contact them in BC phone Victim Link 1-800-563-0808 who will be able to give you that information

-a table with information from a variety of sources is a useful item, as well as a tent to cover the table.


-If the memorial service is held outside it is advisable that it be no longer than 20 minutes as the weather at that time of year is not conducive to standing much longer than that

-For speakers you could contact your local police department, crown counsel or organizations offering counseling or other services to women.

If you would like assistance please do not hesitate to contact me Pat Kelln or 604-524-2329