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Day of remembrance serves as call to action against gender‑based violence
On a crisp snow-covered December night earlier this week, a sombre crowd of people gathered for a moment of silence in front of the tree of remembrance on Dalhousie’s Sexton’s campus. One by one, fourteen women lay a single white rose in front of a plaque that honours the fourteen victims of the École Polytechnique mass shooting.
On December 6, 1989, a gunman walked into the Montreal-based engineering school, entered a classroom, and opened fire on women in the classroom. He then turned the gun on himself.
In his suicide note, he blamed feminists for ruining his life.
In total, 27 people were shot in the violent attack and 14 were killed solely because of their gender. Twelve were engineering students, one a nursing student and one a budget clerk from the school's finance office.
The Government of Canada established December 6 as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women to commemorate a tragedy that devastated the country.
White roses were laid on a plaque during Dal's vigil Wednesday evening.
Each year, Dalhousie Engineering and communities across Canada pay tribute to the victims of the shooting and join together to end gender-based violence.
Organized by Dalhousie’s Women in Engineering, a vigil is held on Dalhousie’s Sexton campus. While the ceremony honours the victims of the tragedy, it also celebrates the resilience of women today.
“The 14 individuals we celebrate today would have been in their fifties. We think of their potential careers, potential impact and what their lives would have been like had they survived the massacre,” said fifth-year electrical engineering student Gina Park at the vigil.
Gina Park speaks at the vigil.
“While we honour their memory, we must know that remembrance is not as powerful as action. Tonight, I challenge everyone to reflect on how each one of us can make a difference for women experiencing gender-based violence in various corners of this world.”
As the Dal vigil proceeded Wednesday night, twelve Dalhousie engineering students, one nursing student, and one administrative staff member, each took turns to blow out a single candle. Each woman is then presented with a single white rose — a symbol of the lost fourteen.
On December 6, we remember:
• Geneviève Bergeron
• Hélène Colgan
• Nathalie Croteau
• Barbara Daigneault
• Anne-Marie Edward
• Maud Haviernick
• Maryse Laganière
• Maryse Leclair
• Anne-Marie Lemay
• Sonia Pelletier
• Michèle Richard
• Annie St-Arneault
• Annie Turcotte
• Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz
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