This week marked 31 years since 14 young women were murdered at l’Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal. The anniversary of the massacre was commemorated as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
Students and faculty of Humber College held a virtual candlelight vigil on Dec.10 to honour those who lost their lives to gender-based violence.
“Today, we remember and honour survivors and victims of gender-based violence. We remember those that have been stolen and forgotten, and we are here to take action to create a future without violence against women, trans and non-binary people,” Aaron Brown, co-ordinator for sexual violence prevention and education at Humber College, said.
A gunman entered an engineering classroom at the school on Dec, 6, 1989, and murdered 14 female students, injuring another 10 women and four men. The victims were targeted because of their gender and the gunman’s hate for feminists.
Until a shooting rampage in Portapique, N.S., earlier this year, the Montreal massacre was the deadliest shooting in Canadian history.
The candlelight vigil was led by Humber College’s Consent Peer Education Program (CPEP) and keynote speaker Silvia D’Addario, manager of Global Citizenship, Equity and Inclusion at Centennial College and a survivor of sexual violence.
D’Addario, who holds a doctorate in intersectionality, said men also need to be included in this conversation because they are prominently committing these violent acts.
“Far too long we’ve been making this a women’s issue,” D’Addario said. “Women go out and march so they won’t die at the hands of men. But we need to be asking why are men hurting women? Why are men hurting other men?
“As a survivor of sexual violence, I refuse to accept that it is my fault,” she said.
“As little girls, we’re often told to put on more clothes or not to act certain ways around older male family members. Instead of exposing family pedophiles, we are telling little girls their behaviour or clothing is the problem,” she said. “Eventually, when they become women, why would they ever believe that they aren’t at fault when an act of sexual violence is committed against them.”
The virtual vigil attracted about 50 viewers and was followed by a candlelight vigil to victims and survivors of gender-based violence honour.
The group also discussed how Humber students, staff and faculty could commit to taking action, informed by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Brown said Indigenous women and girls are 12 times more likely to be murdered or missing in Canada than other women in Canada.
“There are currently 4,000 Indigenous women who are missing, and families who’ve waited years for answers,” he said. “I believe our government needs to do better in providing answers and a solution to this genocide.”
The last five minutes of the virtual vigil was silent in memory of those killed by gender-based violence. Humber faculty and participants were encouraged to light a candle and leave it burning for the remainder of the day to honour all the women who lost their lives to gender-based violence.
Below are the 14 women murdered on Dec. 6, 1989:
- Geneviève Bergeron
- Hélène Colgan
- Nathalie Croteau
- Barbara Daigneault
- Anne-Marie Edward
- Maud Haviernick
- Maryse Laganière
- Maryse Leclair
- Anne-Marie Lemay
- Sonia Pelletier
- Michèle Richard
- Annie St-Arneault
- Annie Turcotte
- Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz