Today and Every Day, We Remember Those We’ve Lost to Gender-Based Violence

On the night of December 6, 1989, at about 5:10 pm, a gunman entered l’École Polytechnique de Montréal. Armed with a rifle and a hunting knife, he first entered a mechanical engineering classroom where a student presentation was being given. He ordered the women and the men to stand at different sides of the classroom. Ushering out the men, he then said, “You’re women, you’re going to be engineers. You’re all a bunch of feminists. I hate feminists.” He opened fire. Six women were killed in that classroom, three more were shot. He then moved through the corridors, the cafeteria and another classroom targeting women to shoot for the next 20 minutes. Overall, 14 women died (12 engineering students, one nursing student and one employee of the university) and 14 other people were injured, including four men. 

The shooting spree remains one of the deadliest in Canadian history. 

It’s been 33 years since the murder of 14 women at l’École Polytechnique. As we feel their loss and remember their lives, we recognize that the misogyny and hatred that led to their murders still exists today. We mourn the more than 1600 Indigenous women and girls who are missing or have been murdered, across decades. We mourn the 22 people killed in Portapique and Wentworth Valley, Nova Scotia, two years ago. South of the border we mourn the five killed in an act of transphobic and homophobic violence at Club Q in Colorado Springs just weeks ago. We know that women and gender-diverse people who are Black, Indigenous, racialized, living in poverty, or living with disabilities, are at greater risk. In Canada, Iran, the United States and around the world, women, girls and 2SLGBTQ+ people continue to face unacceptable discrimination that threatens their lives.

The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women is about reflecting on this solemn truth, remembering those who have experienced gender-based violence, and reaffirming our commitment to action. 

Today, you can join us virtually or in-person for a tri-campus memorial. The event will include a panel discussion about what meaningful, global action on gender-based violence can look like, taking into consideration changing legal, social, medical, and economic landscapes and how we can take steps that are intentional, intersectional, and grounded in addressing the root causes of violence. 

Today and every day we remember those we’ve lost, we honour those still among us, and we work towards the systemic, unapologetic eradication of gender-based violence in all of it’s forms.