Montreal Massacre: Sadness and Relevance 25 Years Later

Twenty five years ago today, 14 women inside the classrooms of Ecole Polytechnique, Montreal, were gunned down. Canada has since commemorated this massacre as a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

Memorial plate of the École Polytechnique Massacre on site in Montreal. (Wikimedia Comons)
Memorial plate of the École Polytechnique Massacre on site in Montreal. (Wikimedia Commons)

On December 6, 1989, Marc Lepine separated the men from the women in a third-floor classroom threatening them with his .22-calibre rifle. The men left, the women were killed.

Before opening fire on the classroom of female engineering students he screamed, “I hate feminists!”

In all, Marc Lepine killed 14 women and wounded ten more women and four men before turning his gun on himself. His suicide note read, in part: “I have decided to send the feminists, who have always ruined my life, to their Maker.”

Twenty-five years later, we pause to remember the 14 victims of this shooting, which started the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. We pause to remember all victims of violence against women

We pause to remember Canada’s missing and murdered aboriginal women.  We remember and we strive to do better.

When we talk about the “Montreal Massacre,” we remember these women, what they may have gone on to do, if they had not had their lives stolen*:

Geneviève Bergeron was a second-year scholarship student in mechanical engineering. She played the clarinet and sang in a professional choir. In her spare time she played basketball and swam.

Helene Colgan  was in her final year of mechanical engineering and planned to do her master’s degree. She had three job offers and was leaning toward accepting one from a company based near Toronto.

Nathalie Croteau was another graduating mechanical engineer. She planned to take a two-week vacation in Cancun, Mexico, with Colgan at the end of the month.

Barbara Daigneault was expecting to graduate at the end of the year. She was a teaching assistant for her father Pierre Daigneault, a mechanical engineering professor with the city’s other French-language engineering school at the Université du Québec à Montréal.

Anne-Marie Edward, a chemical engineering student, loved outdoor sports like skiing and diving, and was always surrounded by friends.

Maud Haviernick was a second-year student in metallurgical engineering, and a graduate in environmental design from the Université du Québec à Montréal.

Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz was a first-year nursing student. She arrived in Montreal from Poland with her husband in 1987.

Maryse Laganière was the only non-student killed. She worked in the engineering school’s budget department. She had recently married.

Maryse Leclair was in fourth-year metallurgy, had a year to go before graduation and was one of the top students in the school. She acted in plays in junior college. She was the first victim whose name was known, and she was found by her father, Montreal police Lt. Pierre Leclair.

Anne-Marie Lemay was in fourth-year mechanical engineering.

Sonia Pelletier was the head of her class and the pride of St-Ulric, Que., her remote birthplace in the Gaspé Peninsula. She had five sisters and two brothers. She was killed the day before she was to graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering. She had a job interview lined up for the following week.

Michèle Richard was in second-year metallurgical engineering. She was presenting a paper with Haviernick when she was killed.

Annie St-Arneault was a mechanical engineering student from La Tuque, Que., a Laurentian pulp and paper town in the upper St-Maurice river valley. She lived in a small apartment in Montreal. She was killed as she sat listening to a presentation in her last class before graduation. She had a job interview with Alcan Aluminium scheduled for the following day. She had talked about eventually getting married to the man who had been her boyfriend since she was a teenager.

Annie Turcotte was in her first year and lived with her brother in a small apartment near the university. She was described as gentle and athletic, enjoying diving and swimming. She went into metallurgical engineering so she could one day help improve the environment.

(*List via CBC)

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