Today, 6 December, marks the 23rd anniversary of a tragic event: the deaths of 14 women attending l’École Polytechnique in Montreal, killed by a man seeking revenge on "feminists." As Status of Women Canada puts it: "They died because they were women."
As well as commemorating the 14 young women whose lives ended in an act of gender-based violence that shocked the nation, December 6 represents an opportunity for Canadians to reflect on the phenomenon of violence against women in our society. It is also an opportunity to consider the women and girls for whom violence is a daily reality, and to remember those who have died as a result of gender-based violence. And finally, it is a day on which communities can consider concrete actions to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.Today, I remember by name: Geneviève Bergeron (b. 1968), civil engineering student; Hélène Colgan (b. 1966), mechanical engineering student; Nathalie Croteau (b.1966), mechanical engineering student; Barbara Daigneault (b.1967), mechanical engineering student; Anne-Marie Edward (b.1968), chemical engineering student; Maud Haviernick (b.1960), materials engineering student; Maryse Laganière (b. 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique’s finance department; Maryse Leclair (b.1966), materials engineering student; Anne-Marie Lemay (b. 1967), mechanical engineering student; Sonia Pelletier (b.1961), mechanical engineering student; Michèle Richard (b. 1968), materials engineering student; Annie St-Arneault (b.1966), mechanical engineering student; Annie Turcotte (b.1969), materials engineering student; and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (b. 1958), nursing student.
I also remember many other women who have lost their lives to gender-related violence, and countless others who face violence or threats on a day-to-day basis.
This also seems like an appropriate time to renew my own conviction in the fight for gender equity, to remind the world that tragedies like the Montreal Massacre have a context of deep-seated societal misogyny and antifeminist backlash. The perpetrator of the Montreal massacre was not a "lone crazy"; his loathesome beliefs found ample reinforcement in the anti-feminism and woman-hatred of the world around him. Countering that hatred, with whatever teaspoons I have, is surely some of the most important work I can do.
Please feel free to share your own remembrances, reactions, or convictions in comments below.