Remembering Montreal

Hélène Colgan, 23;
Nathalie Croteau, 23;
Barbara Daigneault, 22;
Anne-Marie Edward, 21;
Maud Haviernick, 29;
Barbara Maria Klucznik, 31;
Maryse Leclair, 23;
Annie St.-Arneault, 23;
Michèle Richard, 21;
Maryse Laganière, 25;
Anne-Marie Lemay, 22;
Sonia Pelletier, 28; and
Annie Turcotte, aged 21.

In 1989, on December 6, a gunman executed 14 female engineering students at Ecole Polytechnique, in Montreal, PQ. I will not deign to name him. But I will say that I use the word “executed” quite intentionally, as he made it clear that he felt entitled to punish these women, for being successful, for being feminists, and for taking his spot in the engineering program.

I was 17. I was one of two girls in my electrical engineering class of 200, in my first term at the University of New Brunswick. The first thing I heard about this massacre was an awkward attempt by a classmate to make a joke about keeping me in line. And when they told me what had happened, I was. Flattened. It was one of those moments that burned itself in my memory (however inaccurate it may be).

Today, I went to a small memorial service held by the police department in town. They had a different person lay a rose for each of the 14 women, and then they had a rose laid for each of the women who has been killed in Cape Breton since then. But they didn’t lay a rose for the 17-year old who was killed on Friday, because they haven’t yet informed all of her next of kin, and she can’t be named in public.

I didn’t know you, but I’ll remember your loss.

3 responses to “Remembering Montreal”

  1. “The first thing I heard about this massacre was an awkward attempt by a classmate to make a joke about keeping me in line.”

    Holy cats.

    A number of things over the years about your reaction to this make more sense.

    And I truly am sorry I didn’t know you back then. There’s an insensitive asshole who needs a clue by four and I have been known to be able to hand those out.

  2. I am a few years younger than you, but as a Canadian woman and an engineer I can never let this day pass without remembering.

    I am appalled that someone attempted to joke with you about these events. There is nothing remotely humourous to be found here.

    • Let us forgive them, though. They were 18, and they were devastated, and our culture doesn’t give men of that age any way to cope with feelings like that besides anger and diversion.