Montreal Massacre – 22nd anniversary

women's groups gathered for Dec. 6 protest at Montreal courthousewomen hold orange placards outside Montreal courthouse

I can’t believe it’s been 22 years.

On Dec. 6, 1989 I was living in Ottawa, attending university. It was dark out and CBC Radio was on in my apartment. I remember how shocking it was to hear the words: gunman, shooting, Montreal, university and women. It was strange not to be in Montreal, the city where I grew up. I didn’t have a TV and the news reports were confusing, surreal.

Even weirder was the news afterwards that Marc Lépine entered classrooms and deliberately separated the women from the men, ordering the men out and aiming his rifle at the women, that he blamed feminists for his rejection from l’École Polytechnique’s engineering school (he apparently did get into the engineering school but that news came too late). It was chilling to learn later that his suicide note included a list of prominent women he felt deserved death.

One mistake you often see in reporting of the Montreal Massacre is that the 14 murdered women were engineering students. In fact, one victim was a university employee and another a nursing student. I don’t think it matters whether all the women were students. Lépine hunted them down because they were women.

Today at noon a coalition of women’s groups is holding held a protest outside the Montreal courthouse. Protests and memorial ceremonies are taking place across the world. The Canadian federal gun registry is threatened and there is still a lot of work to do to raise awareness about violence against women.

Stephen Fearing wrote a moving song about the Montreal Massacre. Here it is, in case you never heard it before:


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