Thirty years ago today I was living in Montreal. At some point in the early evening of December 6, I started listening to radio reports of an incident at a local college. As the hours went by, more details emerged of the full-blown horror of the École Polytechnique massacre.
Fourteen women were murdered and a further 14 people were injured: ten women and four men.The day, Marc Lepine entered a mechanical engineering class at the school and ordered the women and men to opposite sides of the classroom. He separated nine women, instructing the men to leave. He shot at all nine women in the room, killing six. Lépine then moved through other areas of the school ,targeting women, before finally shooting himself. It is the deadliest mass shooting in Canadian history.
Thirty years later, mass shootings have become common place, it seems. But December 6 stands alone as an instance of hatred, of the irrational blaming of the “other” (Lepine blamed “feminists” for ruining his life), and — what I still find astonishing after all these years — the divisiveness, controversy and finger-pointing that followed.
The so-called “War On Women,” a term loathed by anti-feminists, became real for me 30 years ago.
This anniversary should not be forgotten, but should be marked and dwelled upon. Hopefully it would make us all uncomfortable as we reflect on how far we’ve come in 30 years.
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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