A Day of Remembrance
by JENNY GREEN
The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women is December 6 for a sombre reason. This year, it marks the twenty-seventh anniversary of a violent shooting at a Quebec academic institution which targeted its victims for something they did not choose: their gender.
December 6, 1989, the Montreal Massacre occurred at the École Polytechnique Massacre. Twenty-five-year-old Mark Lépine entered an engineering class at l’École Polytechnique of Montreal and forced the men to leave before opening fire on the remaining female members of the class. Within a mere twenty minutes, Lépine had shot twenty-eight individuals, causing the deaths of fourteen women during his rampage throughout the school. He then turned the weapon on himself and took his own life.
The reason for this carnage? Survivors recount that beforehand, Lépine had stated that the women were feminists for joining a field mostly populated by men. His suicide note wrote of his hatred towards women that would take jobs away from men and his views were politically anti-feminist. Along with his letter was a list of nineteen successful Quebec women that he had intended to kill.
To commemorate the loss of the fourteen lives taken, Augustana holds a day of remembrance. Dr Yvonne Becker, Associate Professor of Physical Education as well as Women’s Studies at Augustana, spoke to the Dagligtale about its Day of Remembrance.
“This group that’s been involved in the remembrance we do on campus for many years. We would recruit fourteen women; students, faculty and staff, and we call them the Women in Black. And so they would dress in black and wear a placard for the whole day. And the placard would bear the name of one of the fourteen women. Then we have a vigil and leave fourteen lit candles outside in the snow to burn into the evening to commemorate their lives and their deaths.”
Dr. Becker stated that the front of the placards read the names and ages of the victims and the back states their field of study as well as what year of study they were in.
When asked about her thoughts on women pursuing their interests in traditionally male dominated industries, she replied with the following:
“I can only encourage women to undertake whatever area of study they want to undertake. That requires courage. It requires an ability to draw others in as allies who would be supportive for them to continue the area of work and study they are passionate about. And for the rest of us, to continue to work for issues of gender equality and all other kinds of social identities that are often used to create differences.”
The vigil for the Montreal Massacre Day of Remembrance will be Thursday, December 1 from 5:00-5:20 pm. Weather permitting, it will be held outside in the Quad or in the Faith and Life Lounge. Hot chocolate after the service will be provided by Chaplaincy.
Student services is also looking for volunteers for its fourteen Women in Black. If you would like to volunteer as a Woman in Black to commemorate the victims, contact Sarah McCrae at firstname.lastname@example.org. for further details.
Whether you are able to be a Woman in Black, attend the vigil, or otherwise acknowledge the Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, please join us in remembering the following women who lost their lives in the Montreal Massacre.