December 6

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rural - Francesca rural - Francesca's picture
December 6

She left me.  She grew up, and left me.  But I suppose from her point of view, I left her. 

Dropping your youngest child off to college is both exciting and horrifying at the same time.  I’m not ashamed to say, many tears were shed when I began the 6-hour journey back to Owen Sound that August afternoon. 

With modern technology, we’re never far from each other, text messaging funny things that happen, emailing assignments for a once over, and big happy dances over great marks.  Facebook allows me to see the pictures, and the laugher in her face, with her new friends, in her new world. 

My youngest child, my daughter. 

But on this day, of all days, the distance  will bethe greatest it has ever been. 

You see, on December 6 1989, I was still pregnant with this amazing young woman. 

She has an older brother, he’s 3 and a half years older, and I felt that a daughter would be nice.  Until that day. 

Like me, 14 other parents had taken their daughters to college.  Dropped them off, tried to impart a few words of lasting advice, worrying that they’d forgotten to tell them that you can get gum out of fabric by freezing it with ice cubes, and other meaningless life skills.  Never knowing that they wouldn’t be coming home that Christmas. 

They were: 

Geneviève Bergeron
Hélène Colgan
Nathalie Croteau
Barbara Daigneault
Anne-Marie Edward
Maud Haviernick
Barbara Maria Klucznik
Maryse Laganière
Maryse Leclair
Anne-Marie Lemay
Sonia Pelletier
Michèle Richard
Annie St-Arneault
Annie Turcotte

Their average age was 23 and a half.

They died because they were women. 

That day, in that moment, I felt I couldn’t raise a daughter.  The world was too horrible, too evil for me to protect a girl child.  Boys are not immune to horrors, but stats prove out that women always suffer the greatest at the hands of evil. 

So I prayed, for the six weeks that followed that day, for a son.  I also remember in the fog of anesthetic the nurse telling me I had a girl, and I remember being sad, being afraid, and deciding I just had to try harder. 

As this girl child grew into the incredible, creative and award winning woman that friends refer to as my “mini-me’, I continued to pray that she would be safe.  That I would be good enough to keep her safe.  That she knew enough to keep herself safe. 

So in August I left this woman, to begin a new journey, and I began a new journey of my own.

I find it interesting that in the past few weeks of this economic turmoil, that ‘pay equity’ is a burden to our society, a burden to recovery efforts, a ‘perk’ to be clawed back by suits in power. Women will bear the brunt of this economic downturn, they already make only 70 cents to the dollar. 

As stress increases in our society, how else will they pay?  How many will give their lives? 

Many people want to dismiss the massacre as the single actions of a single individual.  In Ontario since 1995, 282 women have been killed by their partners.  Is that 282 separate actions of single individuals, or do we have a problem in our society where violence against women is an issue of ‘special interest’ groups? 

We have a society where government and policy makers make deep cuts on the backs of women, implying that equity is the cause of hard times, that the assertion of equality undermines society.  Sounds like the same ranting of a mad man, blaming women, blaming feminists, and we know how that ended. 

The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women is held each December 6.  It marks, the anniversary of the 1989 École Polytechnique Massacre.   As for the 14 women who died I will always remember them and I will trust that my daughter will come home at Christmas.

martin dufresne

That's beautiful!!! Thank you, thank you. I hope that you will post it far and wide, get it published in a national media perhaps.

Star Spangled C...

I'll second that! very powerful writing.

rural - Francesca rural - Francesca's picture

thank you

 this day is extremely meaningful to me, and this year more than any other

With your encouragement, I've sent it along


Er, they were at university, not college. Could you please make that slight factual correction?

Of course if your daughters are going to a technical or pre-university college, like Anastasia de Sousa who was murdered at Dawson College, the same applies.

martin dufresne

Also, Maryse Laganière wasn't a student: she worked at École Poytechnique's Admissions office, that had turned down Marc Lépine's application.


You are right about that; I had forgotten.

Barbara Maria Klucznik was a student, but in nursing, not engineering. She was an adult student at 31 years old, and immigrated from Poland with her husband. A professor of medicine I know had her in one of his classes.

I remember another sad incident a bit later of another engineering student (!) who pushed a woman to her death in the Jean-Talon métro (which I was taking every single day at that time) because she looked like a "woman" who had refused him a grant.

After the mass killing at Concordia, it made us wonder about engineering... Machism? Stress? Competition? Or just a cruel coincidence.


What a beautiful post. Thank you so much for writing and posting that.



Does anyone know of any vigils being held in the Hamilton area tomorrow?

Maysie Maysie's picture

rural Francesca, I greatly admire your way with words, and your ability to communicate personal narrative. When you connect it to this very sad time of year, it becomes an even more moving piece.

 Thank you for sharing, and I hope more people can read your piece.

I remember where I was when I heard. It will be 19 years this year. It's very hard to believe so much time has passed, and so little has changed. 

Manitoba Girl

jrose wrote:


Does anyone know of any vigils being held in the Hamilton area tomorrow?

Critics blast political rally on day for victims

Fri, December 5, 2008


Holding a political rally on a day set aside to remember women who have been victims of violence is "a slap in the face," a London MP charged yesterday.

An angry London-Fanshawe NDP MP Irene Mathyssen was joined by women's advocates who also said rallies tomorrow to protest attempts in Ottawa to replace the Harper federal government with a coalition party are inappropriate.

"For them to use a day to remember our obligation to women . . . for their crass political purpose is beyond description," said Mathyssen.

In London, a noon rally protesting the coalition is being held at the same time a ceremony remembering women who have been victims of violence is taking place at Brescia University College.

That's disrespectful, said the event organizer Kim Young Milani, director of The Circle Women's Centre at Brescia.

It is pretty tacky to be holding these rallies on the 6th.

rural - Francesca rural - Francesca's picture

I totally agree.  We have a peace rally happening today and I spoke to one of the organizers about this and he blew me off.

So I'm going down to the two events that are happening at the same time here, and having a staring contest - I know I'll win, because I'm in that kind of mood.

Manitoba Girl

rural - Francesca wrote:

he blew me off.

Shows how enlightened male progressives really are :(

Le T Le T's picture

Mathyssen should take note that the NDP is holding a pro-coalition rally today in Toronto. Layton and Dion are both said to be speaking. I was extremely disapointed about this.

Wonderful post RF.  Thank you


And the trade unions here are holding a pro-coalition rally in MONTRÉAL!!!

Technically a couple of hours later than the stare of the Polytechnique commemoration, but not in the same part of town (la place du 6 décembre is of course in Côte-des-Neiges, near Université de Montréal, and place Guy-Favreau is on the eastern edge of the city centre - it swallowed up part of old Chinatown).

They are justifying it by the Cons' anti-women measures, but still.

I don't like generalisations about male progressives, though. I know several leftist men who were pissed off about it - why couldn't the rally be on Sunday instead?


I feel the same.  The pro-coalitionists held their rallies on Thursday here, but the anti-coalitionists rallied yesterday, led, of course, by Gail Shea.  So disappointing.

This year the largest December 6th gathering was focused on men working harder to stop violence -- it was led by a man and had an exhibit of photos of island men who wrote their 'promise' to work harder on  their photo.  Makes me just gag, quite frankly.  The boy scouts are at work.

Maysie Maysie's picture

WendyL, thanks for that info about PEI. And those comments after the article from The Guardian: yikes. You made some great points, but those that don't get it, really don't get it.

But I was alerted by some key red flag words by our friend Professor Philip Smith, who was quoted at the end of the article, referring to "family violence". This is the dangerous direction the sector is heading, that femininsts are fighting against, known as the "de-gendering" of VAW, and moving it away from a feminist analysis of male violence to gender-neutral language. Prof. Smith is no spokesperson for this issue.


Manitoba Girl

bigcitygal wrote:

moving it away from a feminist analysis of male violence to gender-neutral language. Prof. Smith is no spokesperson for this issue.


Maysie Maysie's picture

What's so funny?

Spokesman is an antiquated word, and has no place in the feminist lexicon.

Degendering language and understanding of male violence against women, however, is a retrograde attempt to move an analysis away from who the majority of perpetrators are (men, duh), to a place of neutral non-feminism. There is an entire movement within the VAW field to remove such language from funders, guess what, it's not getting very far. Since this affects how VAW services get (and keep) funding, and how they do their work. Which directly affects the lives of women fleeing violence. I find nothing about that humourous in any way. 

 P.S. Manitoba Girl, I'm choosing to be polite and respectful, given this is our first exchange. I've noticed you've not given me the same consideration.

Manitoba Girl

The reletivism on this forum is funny. In an earlier post about an NDP rally on Dec 6 I noted how "enlightened male progressives really are", and this was the response:

 "I don't like generalisations about male progressives, though. I know several leftist men who were pissed off about it - "

Yet you're saying it's OK to make generalisations about males when it comes to violence against women. Now I agree that the vast amount of physical violence directed towards women comes from men. But not all. So to claim that 06 Dec is about male violence against women, and that gender-neutrality is a conspiracy to deprive women's groups of funding, seems specious.

rural - Francesca rural - Francesca's picture

One is a generalization of character, based on opinon ie - some male progressives are not as progressive as they like to think

 The other is a generalization based on fact - domestic violence IS male violence against women.

Opinion vs fact

Therefore it is important to note the attempt to remove of gender focus from the VAM sector.

Generalizing about personality quirks or characteristics,  won't get a woman killed, not recognizing that domestic violence has a gender bias to it, will.



BCG - thanks for your comments.  There has always been an attempt for men/mainstream to co-opt the work of feminists and to neutralize it.  I worked in the transition house movement in the '70's and again in the early '90's and it was evident then - the push toward 'domestic violence' as opposed to violence against women, the strong support for the white ribbon campaign and the struggle of the purple ribbon campaign.  We hang in, though, and it just isn't possible to move a rock. (there are no appropriate emoticons to insert here)

MG - we are not making generalizations about men when we talk about violence against women since this violence is systemic in nature; male violence against women and girls is inherent in our social/political structures.  This accounts for the gender focus to which r-F refers.  In fact, violence against women is encouraged and supported by our social/political structures.  It is time for you to seek out an education on the matter.

r-F - I have been meaning to thank you for your post about December 6th.  It was moving and spot on for me.  You have a talent with words that I admire. 


[url= québécois to screen Montréal Massacre film amid gun registry review[/color][/url]


The Bloc Québécois has invited MPs and senators from all parties to a special screening of Polytechnique, Denis Villeneuve's film about the Montreal Massacre.

The party will host a screening of the film on Parliament Hill on April 21, in hopes of building support for the federal gun registry. There are currently two bills calling for the abolition of the registry under review.

The Bloc is hosting the screening "to sensitize parliamentarians to the magnitude of such a tragedy, as well as to stress the importance of gun control," according to a statement accompanying an invitation sent out on Tuesday.

Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe has also asked Suzanne Laplante-Edward — whose daughter Anne-Marie Edward was among the 14 students killed by Marc Lepine at Montreal's École Polytechnique on Dec. 6, 1989 — to speak at the event.