Remembering the women of the Montreal Massacre

On Dec. 6, 1989, a gunman opened fire in the the École Polytechnique. He entered a classroom of 60 engineering students, separated the men and the women then told the men to leave. He called the women “une gang de féministes” and said “J’haïs les féministes [I hate feminists].” Then he started shooting. He killed 14 women that day, eventually moving to other parts of the school and other classrooms. 27 people were shot. 13 survived. While looking for more people to shoot he yelled “I want women.”

Last year I watched a movie made about that day called Polytechnique. It was not an easy movie to watch. It was sparse and dark, filmed in black and white but it made the story hit home to me like never before. That I watched the day unfold, before, during and after the massacre makes me feel even more sadness than usual on this anniversary. Those women were always a symbol to me, of what prejudices women have to struggle with and of violence against women. They were a group of 14, tied together in a horrible way forever. But this movie made me see them as more than a unified symbol. They, and the survivors left with unimaginable scars, both physical and emotional, were individual women with dreams and hopes and frailties. They each made the decision to go into a field of study that not many women went into. They were 14 individual women whose names I remember today. I wish I didn’t know their names. That they went on and led their lives and I never knew of them. Or that I knew them because of their successes and the changes they made in the world with their lives. But I do know their names. I know the name of the gunman too and you’ll hear it a lot today. But not here. Here you will see the names of those women who died for nothing more than being women. Remember them. And if you get a chance, watch Polytechnique. I highly recommend it.

Killed on December 6, 1989:

Anne St-Arneault, 23
Geneviève Bergeron, 21
Hélène Colgan, 23
Nathalie Croteau, 23
Barbara Daigneault, 22
Anne-Marie Edward, 21
Maud Haviernick, 29
Barbara Klueznick, 31
Maryse Laganière, 25
Maryse Leclair, 23
Anne-Marie Lemay, 22
Sonia Pelletier, 23
Michèle Richard, 21
Annie Turcotte, 21

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