We remember the 14 victims at École Polytechnique

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Wilf Day
We remember the 14 victims at École Polytechnique

Solemn ceremonies will be held in Montreal and across the country today to mark the 20th anniversary of Canada's worst mass shooting.

The École Polytechnique is hosting a private, secular ceremony at the Notre-Dame Basilica for victims' families, friends and survivors.

The post-secondary institution is also inviting members of the public to visit a commemmorative plaque on campus honouring the 14 victims.

Quebec's Federation of Women is hosting a larger event at Place Émilie-Gamelin near the Berri-UQÀM Metro Station on Sunday afternoon, when organizers plan to form a human chain to protest violence.

In Toronto, a 6 p.m. candlelight vigil is planned at the Philosopher's Walk, between the Royal Ontario Museum and University of Toronto's Varsity Stadium and Arena.

We remember 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, and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz.


Thanks for this, Wilf.  A tradition I like to mention every year, let's not mention the name of the killer in any Dec. 6 threads.  We all know who he is.

An interview with a survivor:


Twenty years ago Sunday, Nathalie Provost yelled "We are not feminists" .... Today, the engineer and mother of four says: "I realized many years later that in my life and actions, of course I was a feminist"

Most women who are murdered are killed by their husbands, lovers or exes. Many are killed in rages – there is a fight; the man finds his hunting gun. Since the registry was created, the number of women killed with shotguns has fallen every year. This too is a feminist issue.


Leading the news in Toronto today is yet another woman murdered, and a man on the run.  And we've got a government that is dissolving the gun registry, and has cut funding to women's programs.

And there's still the argument that this act had nothing to do with violence against women, a logical leap that boggled me in 1989 and boggles me still.

I don't see a lot of progress over 20 years.


I've read many moving reflections on 6 December today. People here might be interested in [URL=http://brebisnoire.wordpress.com/2009/12/06/twenty-years-ago-today/]this post[/URL] from brebis noire at the black ewe. She was a young student at the time, and like many of her cohort, it took her some time to grasp the significance that older feminists saw immediately in the intentional murder of women, especially women pursuing unconventional careers.


Good post by brebis - I liked this part:

It’s not ideological to observe that it was due to a young man’s anger and frustration at feminism (plus the easy availability of an automatic weapon) that women were slaughtered on December 6, 1989. It’s not the fault of feminist “ideology” that other women have pointed out that violence against women is almost uniquely carried out by angry and frustrated men; it’s not ideological to draw incredibly obvious parallels between December 6 and violence against women in homes and around the world.

Yet when women are murdered, it's always individualized as the work of a madman; that the guy just lost his job, or was abused as a child (as this killer was).  Thus, the overall pattern of women getting murdered by men gets overlooked over and over and over again.

Wilf Day

I was a school trustee at the time.

The massacre was in the early evening of a Wednesday. Our regular board meeting was Thursday evening.

On Thursday morning at 10:02AM the Quebec National Assembly had convened. The Premier had declared three days of mourning, with flags at half-mast on all government buildings.

Thursday afternoon at 1:40PM the Ontario legislature had observed one minute's silence. No days of mourning. No half-mast flag. The House adjourned at 6:08PM.

We 15 trustees, part-timers paid $8,000 per year, met at 7:30PM. We had briefly discussed informally the different levels of response. We unanimously felt ashamed of the difference.

We unanimously passed a motion to lower all flags at our schools to half-mast the next morning.

The next morning some principals objected. The Ministry of Education had a policy on when to lower flags at schools. It did not mention Montreal students. Faced with an unprecedented event, they asked for precedent.

One woman trustee phoned the rest of us to alert us. We all left our jobs and went to our respective local schools and made sure the flags were lowered.

Twenty years later I am still proud of us 15 trustees.

G. Muffin

In paragraph 5, did you mean to say indifference?

Please don't think I'm nitpicking.  That was a great post.

Wilf Day

G. Pie wrote:
In paragraph 5, did you mean to say indifference?

No, the difference between the Quebec response and the Ontario response.

G. Muffin

[Hangs head in shame.]


Looking at the comments sections on articles at various msm sites over the weekend, I noticed something I hadn't in years past. The rightwingnutz have started to use the killer's birthname, which is Algerian, and we can all see where this is going, can't we?


(Sineed, I respect your request above that we not name him in this thread, but we seem to have a new move from our home-grown misogynists, and I thought it needed noting.)


Then I came upon [URL=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/blogs/spector-vision/anniversary-of-a-mas... blogpost[/URL] by Norman Spector at the Grope. The clear implication of that post is that misogynists in Canada are mainly Muslims, and Canadian women seldom met gendered violence until they met Muslims.


Both the bigotry and the opportunism are breathtaking.




How would Spector feel if the media insisted on the Jewish background of Valery Fabrikant, the Concordia Enginering Prof who murdered four of his colleagues at that school a few years later?

I do think there is a great difference in the response here in Québec and elsewhere, though perhaps that is inevitable.

CMOT Dibbler

If those 17 women had been poor and First Nations would the media, and by extension the general public, still be talking about this atrocity 20 years after the fact?


remind remind's picture


Catchfire Catchfire's picture


Thank you so much for unearthing this thread.  I don't feel the need for a remembrance, because I never forget. Sometimes wish I could.  Still, it is so important that we collectively gather, as we feel necessary, to remember this crime against women, this event symbolic of misogyny everywhere.


[url=http://www.quebecsolidaire.net/violence-faite-aux-femmes-quebec-solidair... against women isn't over: Québec Solidaire[/url]



[url=http://www.montrealgazette.com/Events+commemorating+%C3%89cole+Polytechn... commemorating the École Polytechnique massacre[/url]


Always a difficult day for women. We see examples of gender-based terrorism on an international level, but we often forget that we have our own homegrown gender-terrorists, supported by the Harper government which, as Sineed has pointed out, are the mouthpiece of the gun lobby and have cut gov't programs that support women. Lest we forget, in Canada, provocation is seen as a viable defense for men who murder their female partners, men who rape young girls, etc. It is not enough that women point out that male children need to be raised with a heightened awareness of gender inequality. It is not enough that men support their partners in doing just that. We need a government that has stronger legislation that protects vulnerable women and children, and we need enforcement tools that actually protect them.


Are women safer, and more empowered, in our society today than 30 years ago? I'm just asking.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..i've just posted this in the chile thread. i think it's a partial answer to your question unionist.

Chilean anti-rape anthem becomes international feminist phenomenon

A Chilean protest song about rape culture and victim shaming has become a viral anthem for feminists around the world.

Un Violador en Tu Camino – A Rapist in Your Path – was first performed in late November as Chile’s nationwide uprising against social inequality pushed into its second month.

Videos of the song – and its accompanying dance moves – quickly went viral, spreading across Latin America and the world, with performances taking place in MexicoColombiaFranceSpain and the UK.

The song was written by Lastesis, a feminist theatre group based in the city of Valparaíso, who credited Chile’s women protesters for helping spread the work around the world.

“It was never intended to be a protest song – the women of the marches transformed it into something more” said Paula Cometa, speaking on behalf of the group, whose other members are Sibila Sotomayor, Daffne Valdés, and Lea Cáceres.

A Rapist in Your Path is based on the work of the Argentinian theorist Rita Segato, who argues that sexual violence is a political problem, not a moral one.

The lyrics describe how institutions – the police, the judiciary and political power structures – uphold systematic violations of women’s rights: “The rapist is you/ It’s the cops/ The judges/ The state/ The president.”....