Local vigil remembers École Polytechnique massacre victims

Image of Shawna O'Neill
By Shawna O'Neill
Local vigil remembers École Polytechnique massacre victims
Roses honouring the victims (Shawna O'Neill/Seaway News photo).

CORNWALL, Ontario - On Dec. 6, 1989, exactly 30 years ago, 14 women were murdered at École Polytechnique in Montreal in a hateful act of anti-feminism. The massacre is recognized as Canada's worst mass shooting.

At 12 p.m. on Dec. 6, 2019, members of the community and City Council, alongside staff of Sexual Assault Support Services for Women of SDG&A (SASS) and Maison Balwdin House, gathered at City Hall to remember the victims. Brief speeches were made, roses were placed in the victims' honour and a moment of silence was held amid the gentle fall of snowflakes.

“That evening started much like any other. Students arrived for classes, milled around the campus, Christmas was only 19 days away and a winter break was coming. No one could have predicted that shortly after 5 p.m., a man, fueled by hatred of women, would commit a heinous act of violence that would end the lives of 14 women...we won't say his name today. He doesn't deserve the recognition,” said Danielle MacNeil, Public Educator and Volunteer Coordinator for Maison Baldwin House. MacNeil elaborated that the shooter deliberately separated the female from male students and voiced his hate of feminists before opening fire.

“We work to end exactly the same thing and that's violence against women,” said Angela Vinette, Executive Director of SASS, when asked why both local agencies partnered together to host the vigil. She reflected that the vigil has been held for several years in the community.

“The attack was fueled by violence against women and that is what our agencies exist to combat,” said MacNeil in agreement.

Baldwin House also livestreamed the vigil on their Facebook page for anyone who could not attend physically.

“Violence against women is still an issue today, 30 years later. We all need to be doing our part, to end it however we can,” said MacNeil.

Statistics suggest that currently in Canada one woman is killed every two days, once a week a woman is murdered by her partner and one in three women will experience sexual violence over the course of their lives.

To find out more about local support and services for women in violent situations, visit maisonbaldwinhouse.ca and SASS' Facebook page here.

The names of the victims who are remembered on this day include:

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

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