One day, fourteen lives lost.
If you have walked through the University Centre at some point this week, you may have seen the names of 14 different women as you climbed the stairs to the atrium. You may also have seen their pictures and names on the wall; you may even have stopped to read a little about who they were.
Those blurry photographs show the faces of the 14 women killed in the Montreal Massacre twenty-five years ago. On December 6, 1989, Marc Lépine shot and killed thirteen female students and one female faculty member at École Polytechnique de Montreal, home to Canada’s largest engineering program. In the engineering classroom where his rampage started, Lépine separated the men from the women and declared that he hated feminists before he shot nine female students, six of whom were killed. In forty-five minutes, Lépine covered three floors, and entered several classrooms. In addition to the women killed, thirteen people were injured before Lépine took his own life. This event sparked outrage and a national debate about gun control and violence against women.
In the 2000 block of the Mackenzie Building, there is a bulletin memorial dedicated to remembering the Massacre. I had seen it many times coming down the stairs after tutorials, but I have to be honest and say that I hadn't given the event itself much thought. I felt that it was a horrific and tragic act, but I knew essentially nothing about the particulars of the event itself. This year, I decided to learn more about it and I was surprised by how much I was affected by what I learned. I couldn't help but associate myself with those women. They were female engineering students. I am a female engineering student. I really could not wrap my head around such a thing happening.
There are many events on campus dedicated to remembering the fourteen women who had their lives cut short, and to honoring the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women (Dec. 6). On Tuesday of this week, a commemorative gathering was held by the Faculty of Engineering. On Thursday December 4, the Womyn’s Centre will be holding a candle light vigil in the Minto/Mackenzie quad (4:30pm), after which they will be showing the film “Polytechnique,” a documentary about the Massacre, at BECAMPS. On Saturday December 6, there will be a community gathering in Minto Park (Elgin and Gilmour) to honor the women killed. The Womyn Centre will have a table on the 3rd floor of the University Centre throughout the week providing information about the commemorative events, the Montreal Massacre itself, and the women who lost their lives as a result.
If you can, I would highly recommend that you take a moment to research a little about the Montreal Massacre or the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. These are not pleasant things to think about, but they are important nevertheless.
This post is dedicated to the women who lost their lives so tragically twenty-five years ago, to women who have suffered violence because of their gender, and to those working to end violence against women everywhere.
The Montreal Massacre victims:
Anne St-Arneault, 23; Geneviève Bergeron, 21; Hélène Colgan, 23; Nathalie Croteau, 23; Barbara Daigneault, 22; Anne-Marie Edward, 21; Maud Haviernick, 29; Barbara Klueznick, 31; Maryse Laganière, 25; Maryse Leclair, 23; Anne-Marie Lemay, 22; Sonia Pelletier, 23; Michèle Richard, 21; and Annie Turcotte, 21.
Lauren is a second year Architectural Conservation and Sustainability Engineering student. (Quite the title, she knows.) She is a big fan of good food, good friends and good conversation. Her collection of scarves and tea is matched only by the list of places she wants to visit and books she wants to read. She loves ballroom and Latin dancing, and can often be found dancing in the atrium or wherever salsa music is played. She is passionate about improving the lives of women and girls around the world and about encouraging girls to pursue studies and careers in STEM.