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Montréal Massacre 30th anniversary: Women still targets of gender violence, advocates say

'I'm saddened by the continued resistance to feminism, the hate rhetoric'

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.

Thirty years ago, on Dec. 6, 1989, these 14 young women were killed in a mass shooting at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal. The shooter, who said he was “fighting feminism,” solely targeted women.

The anniversary of what's known as the Montréal Massacre is now marked yearly as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

“These women would be in their 50s now,” said YWCA Sudbury executive director Marlene Gorman, speaking at a Dec. 6 event held at the Sudbury Women's Centre marking the 30th anniversary of the tragic event.

“They would have well-established careers. They would have families. Some would be grandmothers. They would be contributing to their families and their communities. But their lives were cut short because they were women.”

It has been 30 years since the Montréal Massacre, but little has changed when it comes to violence against women, said Gorman, whose organization runs a shelter in Sudbury for women and children escaping domestic violence.

“We're still seeing oppression of women,” she said. “We're still hearing about women being murdered.

“Our shelter as well as other shelters across Canada are full. We're not seeing any increases in funding and support for women's services. We've been calling for a national action plan to end violence against women, and we're still waiting for that.

“So we're not seeing a lot of change that's happening in our country and across the world.”

Gorman read the women's names out during the memorial event, and asked for a moment of silence in their memory.

She then asked if any of the participants — many of whom work for local social service agencies — wanted to speak about the Montréal Massacre.

Lisa Long, executive director of the Samaritan Centre, said she was 19 years old and living an hour west of Montréal when the shooting occurred.

“I find myself more and more broken and fragile with each passing year,” she said.
“My own daughter is away at university. I'm just so saddened. I'm saddened by the continued resistance to feminism, the hate rhetoric. And I'm so friggin' mad about it.

“We need to continue to push back against the hate, against anti-feminist rhetoric, or nothing will change. We need to rise as a nation, 32-plus million voices of feminist power, because nothing will change unless we do.

“We cannot tolerate anti-feminism.”

Rebecca Coughlin was a child — just nine years old — on Dec. 6, 1989, but she said she remembers the Montréal Massacre happening.

“I have two daughters who are nine right now,” she said. “When this happened, I remember my mom telling me about it. I know that in her heart she couldn't imagine that 30 years later we'd still be here.

“I can't imagine that 30 years from now it still won't be a surprise when these things happen to women. That they happen to women because they're women, and they happen to women because they're feminists.”