Remembering Polytechnique 24 years later

On Dec. 6 it will be 24 years since the tragic massacre at Montreal’s École Polytechnique where fourteen women were killed by a lone shooter with a personal vendetta against “feminists.” The University of Windsor’s Womyn’s Centre is ensuring that the tragedy will never be forgotten.

The Memorial of Hope commemorates the 14 women whose lives were cut short on Dec. 6, 1989. Photo by Travis Fauteux.
The Memorial of Hope commemorates the 14 women whose lives were cut short on Dec. 6, 1989. Photo by Travis Fauteux.

The Memorial of Hope commemorates the 14 women whose lives were cut short on Dec. 6, 1989. Photo by Travis Fauteux.

Travis Fauteux

News Editor

On Dec. 6 it will be 24 years since the tragic massacre at Montreal’s École Polytechnique where fourteen women were killed by a lone shooter with a personal vendetta against “feminists.” The University of Windsor’s Womyn’s Centre is ensuring that the tragedy will never be forgotten.

Friday is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, a day to remember the victims of the Polytechnique massacre and to reflect on the many tragic cases of gender-based violence around the world.

A candlelight vigil will be held at the Memorial of Hope, south of Dillon Hall, at 4:30 p.m. and will be followed by a reception in Katzman Lounge in Vanier Hall at approximately 5:00 p.m.  Dr. Christopher Greig will speak about masculinity and gender based violence.

Tracy Huynh from the Womyn’s Centre said that it is important for all students to remember the events that transpired 24 years ago.

“It’s a reminder of how prevalent sexism is still in our society and our media,” said Huynh.  “At the time… it was outright a misogynist attack and nobody addressed that.  They focused more on the shooter than the victim.”

“I know it’s hard for students to come out, but I really do encourage them and faculty to come out because you would be surprised how many students don’t know why the Memorial of Hope is there and what it’s for,” she said.  “A lot of students don’t even know about the shooting.  We hear about the [United States shootings], but we never remember the shootings in Canada.”

University of Windsor Student Alliance (UWSA) VP Administration Shaista Akbar said, “We need to remember that violence against women is still a major issue in Canada and within our homes in Windsor.  It is important that we pledge to take action against this and the first step is remembering and reflecting on what has happened in the past.”

On Dec. 6 1989, an armed gunman walked into an engineering class at École Polytechnique, separated the men and women, and shot all nine female students, who were studying in the male dominated field for being what he considered to be feminists, killing six of them.

The casualties did not end with the women in the classroom though.  The gunman targeted other women after leaving the classroom and killed 14 women in total, injuring ten women and four men.

Eight months after the tragedy, Sarto Blais, a male witness of the massacre, hanged himself out of survivor’s guilt.  His suicide note explained that he “could not accept that as a man I had been there and hadn’t done anything about it.”  Two victims were added to the already devastating tragedy when Blais’ parents committed suicide less than a year after losing their son.

Huynh said that the ceremony involves 14 French speakers, 14 English speakers, and 14 male ‘escorts’ to present short biographies about each victim.  “We recognize that the men that were removed from the situation that day were held against their will to do so because a lot of them did want to help and they couldn’t,” said Huynh.

In honour of the women whose promising lives were cut short, The Lance honours the fourteen victims of the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre:

Geneviève Bergeron

Hélène Colgan

Natalie Croteau

Barbara Daigneault

Anne-Marie Edward

Maud Haviernick

Barbara Maria Klueznick

Maryse Laganière

Maryse Leclair

Anne-Marie Lemay

Michelle Richard

Sonia Pelletier

Annie Saint-Arnault

Annie Turcotte

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