Friday marks 30 years since the École Polytechnique massacre that happened in Montreal in 1989.
Marc Lépine entered a mechanical engineering class, separated the men from the women before shooting all nine women in the class, killing six of them. He spent the next 20 minutes going through the school targetting women and shooting eight more people before killing himself. Another 14 people were injured, including four men. He is alleged to have said he was fighting against feminism.
It’s the deadliest mass shooting in Canadian history.
Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Anne St-Arneault, and Annie Turcotte were killed that evening.
Executive Director of Maggie’s Resource Centre Tanya MacKinnon says she remembers the day it happened. She was in high school at the time. “It was unthinkable to me that it happened because they were female,” she says. Now, 30 years later, MacKinnon says she is proud to work for a place that supports women that are in vulnerable situations.
In 1991, the Canadian government recognized December 6th as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. “The day is to not only honour those women but to honour and remember all the women that have lost to their lives to gender-based violence,” MacKinnon says. She says that it’s important to empower women to share their experience with violence so other women can get the confidence to do the same.
“He felt like they were taking male positions,” MacKinnon says of the killer’s motive. With that in mind, she says it’s important to have diversity in the workplace. She says the meaning of feminism is often misunderstood. MacKinnon says it’s not about giving women more power over men but making sure that both genders have equal opportunity to succeed.
“Historically men have held higher positions of power in the workplace,” MacKinnon points out. That’s why she believes that men have a role to play in empowering women. When men support women, it sends a positive message to friends and co-workers. She adds that it’s also important for men to speak up when they see a woman being abused whether it’s physically or verbally.
“There’s no limit on what any person, regardless of gender can do,” MacKinnon says.
As they do every year, Maggie’s will be holding a candle-light vigil at 6 PM at their office at 63 Cleak Street. Before that, MacKinnon says they will have information on the women that were lost 30 years ago inside their HQ starting at noon. She says it’s important to not just know their names but to know who they were. MacKinnon says she will be reading off a list of the names of the women that have been lost in 2019 to gender-based violence in Ontario.