Montreal marks 1989 shoot­ing

Cer­e­mony marks 28th an­niver­sary of Montreal Mas­sacre that killed 14 women

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - NATIONAL NEWS - MOR­GAN LOWRIE

MONTREAL — Bou­quets of red, pink and white roses were laid out­side Ecole poly­tech­nique on Wed­nes­day at the foot of a plaque bear­ing the names of the 14 women who were killed there 28 years ago.

The two dozen or so peo­ple who at­tended the brief out­door cer­e­mony stood in si­lence, some wip­ing away tears as they re­mem­bered the Montreal Mas­sacre, when a gun­man shot the 14 women to death and in­jured 14 other peo­ple on Dec. 6, 1989.

In­dus­trial en­gi­neer­ing stu­dent Blanche Mageau-Be­land said she be­lieves the an­niver­sary is es­pe­cially mean­ing­ful to the school’s fe­male en­gi­neer­ing stu­dents.

“It’s with the pres­ence of those women and all the women who were in en­gi­neer­ing be­fore us that we’re able to study,” she said af­ter the cer­e­mony.

“They’re the women who cleared the path.”

Michele Thi­bodeau-Deguire, the school’s first fe­male civil en­gi­neer­ing grad­u­ate, re­mem­bers when the site was trans­formed into a sea of white roses in the days fol­low­ing the worst mass shoot­ing in the coun­try’s his­tory.

“It was some­thing that came out; peo­ple just wanted to show how they felt,” said Thi­bodeau Deguire, now the head of the school’s board of direc­tors.

“And ev­ery year, white roses were brought here at the door of poly­tech­nique.”

In re­cent years, she says the school has worked to trans­form the an­niver­sary — and the sym­bol of the white rose — into some­thing pos­i­tive.

That in­cludes award­ing an an­nual schol­ar­ship to a fe­male en­gi­neer­ing stu­dent in mem­ory of the vic­tims, and by sell­ing white roses to help fund a sci­ence camp for girls from un­der­priv­i­leged neigh­bour­hoods.

“From some­thing hor­ri­ble, some­thing beau­ti­ful came out,” she said.

A cer­e­mony for the 14 vic­tims was to be held at 5 p.m. at the look­out atop Mount Royal Park. Deputy premier Do­minique Anglade, Mayor Va­lerie Plante and So­phie Gre­goire Trudeau, the wife of Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, were sched­uled to at­tend.

Four­teen light beams were in­stalled at the look­out rep­re­sent­ing the 14 women and lit the sky be­tween 5 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Heidi Rath­jen, a for­mer Ecole poly­tech­nique stu­dent and wit­ness to the mas­sacre, said it is still im­por­tant to re­mem­ber what hap­pened 28 years ago.

“It’s per­ti­nent to talk about it with re­gard to gun con­trol,” said Rath­jen, who helped start a group that lob­bies for tighter firearm reg­u­la­tions.

The an­niver­sary of the shoot­ing is a good time to dis­cuss guns laws in Canada “in order to di­min­ish the chances that this kind of tragedy hap­pens again,” she said.

Dur­ing a trip to China, Trudeau took part in a can­dle-light­ing cer­e­mony at the Cana­dian Con­sulate in Guangzhou to mark the Na­tional Day of Re­mem­brance and Ac­tion on Vi­o­lence Against Women.

In a state­ment, the prime min­is­ter said the “sense­less and hate­ful act of vi­o­lence” was a “dev­as­tat­ing re­minder of what can hap­pen when ha­tred and misog­yny pre­vail.”

Trudeau said more must be done to speak out against gen­der-based vi­o­lence against women and girls both in Canada and abroad.

“That means valu­ing the voices of women and girls, fight­ing the in­jus­tices and in­equal­i­ties that put the most vul­ner­a­ble women at the great­est risk of vi­o­lence, and break­ing down a cul­ture that dis­misses women’s worth — from Hol­ly­wood stu­dios to the halls of Par­lia­ment,” he said.

RYAN REMIORZ/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Four­teen beams of light shine to­ward the sky dur­ing a cer­e­mony Wed­nes­day mark­ing the 28th an­niver­sary of the Montreal Mas­sacre on Dec. 6, 1989.

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