Remembering those who left too soon

- December 4, 2008

A vigil is planned on Sexton campus on Saturday, Dec. 6. (Josh Boyter Photo)

Nineteen years ago, an enraged gunman entered L’Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal. Before opening fire in one of the classrooms, 25-year-old Marc Lepine separated the men from the women and started firing on the female engineering students, screaming “I hate feminists.”

Zhindra Gillis, a Dalhousie industrial engineering student, was just five years old when the Montreal Massacre occurred. A member of the Dalhousie Sexton Engineering Undergraduate Society, she is helping organize this year’s December 6 vigil on Sexton campus.

“I think it’s something that students can connect to,” she says. “It’s something really awful that happened at an engineering school. They were doing the same things we’re doing right now—they were re getting ready for exams, they were getting ready for Christmas—and that makes it very relatable.”

The vigil is just one of many events held during the Purple Ribbon Campaign, running November 25 to December 10. The campaign was initiated in 1990 by the Women’s Action Coalition of Nova Scotia.

The annual event envisions an end to violence against women. Tiny purple ribbons are pinned on jackets and backpacks in remembrance of the 14 women who died at L’Ecole Polytechnique and to raise awareness about violence against women.

In 1991, a handful of men created the White Ribbon Campaign to run alongside the Purple Ribbon Campaign. The White Ribbon Campaign educates and encourages men to take a stand on violence against women.

“Those women were just trying to do something they liked. They weren’t trying to be controversial. They were at school to learn something they like,” says Ms. Gillis.  "Everyone, men and women, should be to do something and learn something that they enjoy."
This year's Dalhousie vigil will be held on Saturday, December 6 at 6:30 p.m. in the Sexton Alumni Lounge.

Other events include:
• The War on Women, a lecture by Brian Vallee. It takes place Thursday, Dec. 4, 7 p.m. in the Potter Auditorium of the Rowe Building. The lecture is sponsored by the Dalhousie Women's Centre and the Metro Interagency on Family Violence.
• National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Friday, Dec. 5, 10:30 a.m. at Province House, 1726 Hollis Street. There will be a moment of silence followed by a panel discussion.
• December 5 event in memory of Paula Gallant and Violence Against Women. Friday, Dec. 5, 6 p.m. at BLT Elementary School, Timberlea. There will be a special commemoration to the BLT Rails to Trails Association made in Paula Gallant's memory.
• Candlelight Vigil. Saturday, Dec. 6, 4:30 p.m. at Parade Square, Halifax.


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