Western faculty and students gathered today at Western’s Spencer Engineering building to commemorate the engineering students who were shot and killed by an gunman at Montreal’s École Polytechnique 26 years ago. On December 6th 1989, a man professing to hate feminists targeted the prominent engineering school and shot 14 female students; taking their lives because he didn’t agree with the powerful role these women wanted to play in society.
The Women in Engineering group at Western holds the service annually, and pays tribute to the students by lighting a white candle for each of their lives. Outside the engineering building there is nature memorial, with a plaque on a rock reading “these 14 magnolia trees honour the memory of the 14 women slain at L’ecole Polytechnique, Montreal, in December 1989”. The service also remembers Lynda Shaw, a Western student whose life was also taken as an act of gender based violence.
Following the ceremony, everyone in attendance was given a white ribbon which is symbolic of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Kathleen McAllister is the President of Women in Engineering and says, “gender violence isn’t just a women’s issue, and it’s really great that men have started to take responsibility and show support when violence does occur”. In order to eliminate this problem in society McAllister believes that it would require people to be respectful of everyone, specifically everyone’s gender.
Students and faculty remembered the lives of Geneviève Bergeron, 21; Hélène Colgan, 23; Nathalie Croteau, 23; Barbara Daigneault, 22; Anne-Marie Edward, 21; Maud Haviernick, 29; Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, 31; Maryse Laganière, 25; Maryse Leclair, 23; Anne-Marie Lemay, 22; Sonia Pelletier, 23; Michèle Richard, 21; Annie St-Arneault, 23; and Annie Turcotte, 21.