We remember you.
We remember you — the bright, promising young women who were murdered 25 years ago today at Montreal’s École Polytechnique by a 25-year-old man named Marc Lépine. He was “fighting feminism”; you were the casualties in his misogynistic, hateful crusade.
Today, Dec. 6, is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada.
Today, we’re thinking a lot about you and the things you never got to accomplish. We’re thinking a lot about Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women, of which there are an appalling number. We’re thinking a lot about the comments on Dec. 6 columns claiming there is no war on women and that this act of violence isn’t a symptom of a misogynistic culture and that “Marc Lépine was a madman” and BLAH BLAH BLAH FART NOISE.
And today, we are angry. We are angry because this keeps happening over and over and over again. Women are still getting hurt and killed at the hands of the men who hate them.
• • •
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column for the Winnipeg Free Press about the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.
I had wanted to offer a hopeful look forward — after all, École Polytechnique launched two amazing initiatives this year to honour the memories of these women which you can read more about at the link above — but mostly I just felt sad and angry.
Instead, I wrote about the altering realization I came to in Grade 9 during my first Montreal Massacre vigil in the multi-purpose room of my high school: women could be targeted with violence simply because they were women. The realization all women come to, sooner or later.
Marlo and I were texting the night my column ran — the lone commenter calling me out for my “disturbing misandrist undertones” because, you know, THAT’S THE REAL ISSUE, HERE — and Marlo, being 14 in 1989, remembers being in a bus or car downtown and seeing the flag at the University of Winnipeg at half-mast and knowing that it was like that because “some women got killed.”
The heaviness hit her later, as a university student herself. “I realized there were no locks on my classroom doors and (quoting the Wyrd Sisters), ‘it could have been me, so easily,'” Marlo wrote.
Now, Marlo and I are both older than all those women killed in 1989 — and our world has changed so little. Violence against women is still pervasive and too many people are still unwilling to face uncomfortable truths about the culture in which we live. How many more women have to die before they do?
Dec. 6 is a solemn, significant, difficult day. We remember. And we will never forget.