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  • Kelly Watt

women’s work: Dec. 6th, Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre

Ten years ago today, two activists-- Linda MacDonald and Jeanne Sarson of Persons Against Nonstate Torture and I, went to Montreal to attend the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. It was a sombre event, we stood outside in the cold and drizzle, shivering while we listened to speeches and eulogies in French and English. I was even interviewed by a French radio station, where I babbled somewhat incomprehensibly in our nation’s second language. But we felt a solidarity with the women who had suffered and been killed, and we were grateful to be there to honour them on that day.

In the news today, several women have shared that it’s taken all this time to refer to the mass shootings as a feminist tragedy. The catastrophe at Ecole Polytechnic on December 6th, 1989 remains the largest mass shooting in Canadian history, and no matter how disturbed the shooter Marc Lepine was, he claimed that he shot those young hopeful female engineers because he was “fighting feminism.” I remember when I first watched the names and funeral services for the 14 young women who had been gunned down for nothing more than being female and ambitious, I experienced a full body chill. As a survivor, it was just more evidence that misogyny was still alive and well and getting away with violence as usual. Evidence that there were still men out there who felt entitled to use physical force and even murder against women, to control, abuse or enslave them. A lot has changed, but there are still many people and several countries who hold oppressive sexist views. Remembering these fallen women, reminds me of how hard women have fought for liberty and the sovereignty over their own bodies and dreams.

The women who lost their lives that day were:

Geneviève Bergeron (1968–1989), civil engineering student Hélène Colgan (1966–1989), mechanical engineering student Nathalie Croteau (1966–1989), mechanical engineering student Barbara Daigneault (1967–1989), mechanical engineering student Anne-Marie Edward (1968–1989), chemical engineering student Maud Haviernick (1960–1989), materials engineering student Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (1958–1989), nursing student Maryse Laganière (1964–1989), budget clerk at the school’s finance department Maryse Leclair (1966–1989), materials engineering student Anne-Marie Lemay (1967–1989), mechanical engineering student Sonia Pelletier (1961–1989), mechanical engineering student Michèle Richard (1968–1989), materials engineering student Annie St-Arneault (1966–1989), mechanical engineering student Annie Turcotte (1969–1989), materials engineering student

In addition, there were multiple suicides among students who witnessed the massacre.

Below: Activists Jeanne Sarson, Kelly Watt and Linda MacDonald (wearing her pink hat!) at the 20th Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre in Montreal, Dec. 6, 2009.

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