I don’t remember a time when I hadn’t heard the word Polytechnique without knowing that there was mourning attached to it. For as long as I remember I’ve known that women died there, shot by a man who hated them just for being female and being at the school.

I don’t remember how old I was when it first dawned on me that I was actually alive at the time of the attack. It happened in 1989 – this wasn’t the long ago thing that I had somehow thought it was. I don’t know why I assumed that it had happened before my lifetime, maybe just because I was so uncomfortable that it would be any closer to my existence. Women shot for trying to have careers.

People have tried to debate the shooter’s motives, but there can be not doubt that he told the women he had separated from the class that they were women, they were feminists and he hated them.

Fourteen women died that day. I have known the shooter’s name longer than I have known any of theirs, but that’s not right. These women were going to school, trying to have careers, they were not doing anything that should have been dangerous. They were not doing anything I wouldn’t do myself, expecting to be safe.

December 6 is a reminder that there are men out there who are still angry that women want to live their own lives. There are men out there who think that we are less than them and should only do what we are told. There are men that are angry when they see what they believe to be a woman taking a man’s rightful place. There are men who would deny me my own choices in place of there own.

I am a feminist. I believe women are as much as men. Today I mourn those 14 women who died for being women and trying to get an education.

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


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