December 6, 2019. It’s been 30 years since a gunman killed 14 women at Montreal’s École Polytechnique. On this National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, the attack is finally being officially recognized as an attack on feminists. Dan Spector explains how the day is being reclaimed.
Au nom du président de l’Assemblée nationale du Québec, nous souhaitons vous transmettre ces photographies prises à l’occasion de la : Commémoration du 30e anniversaire de la tragédie de l’École Polytechnique, Hôtel du Parlement, 5 décembre 2019.
L’Assemblée nationale est détentrice du droit d’auteur des photographies. Elle en autorise la diffusion uniquement lorsqu’il est fait mention: « Collection Assemblée nationale du Québec, Roch Théroux, photographe ».
Cordialement, Le Protocole
Par Sr Madeleine Bédard, 29 novembre 2019, Beauport, (Québec)
Le 26 novembre 2019, à 19h00, le cardinal Gérald C. Lacroix, archevêque de Québec, a présidé l’Eucharistie clôturant cette année jubilaire à la basilique-cathédrale Notre-Dame, reflet de l’histoire de tout notre peuple. Nous étions honoré(e)s par la présence de Mgr Marc Pelchat et Mgr Martin Laliberté, évêques auxiliaires, et de M. l’abbé Mario Duchesne, vicaire général. Une douzaine de Missionnaires d’Afrique et l’abbé Gérard Sylvain étaient là comme concélébrants. Nos familles, amis et connaissances étaient invités à vivre cet événement mémorable.
Dans l’action de grâce
C’est l’occasion de rendre grâce pour notre mission commune passée, présente et à venir. Quelle joie profonde de nous retrouver ensemble comme disciples de Jésus et apôtres envoyés sur les pas du cardinal Lavigerie et de Mère Marie-Salomé !
La procession d’entrée avec les célébrants et tous les missionnaires marque le début de l’Eucharistie. Dans le mot de bienvenue, le P. Armand Galay, délégué provincial des Missionnaires d’Afrique, et dans le mot de la fin, Sr Elisabeth Villemure, responsable des SMNDA pour l’Amérique, expriment notre gratitude envers les Africains qui nous ont accueillis, nos Églises d’origine, nos familles, nos amis et nos bienfaiteurs qui nous ont soutenu(e)s au cours de notre vie missionnaire. Ils sont venus nombreux. Quelle joie aussi d’avoir parmi nous quelques amis africains accompagnant si bien les chants de la Messe au rythme du tambour : de quoi rappeler d’heureux souvenirs aux missionnaires ayant vécu tant d’années en Afrique !
À la lumière de l’Évangile, le Cardinal témoigne avec ardeur de sa foi en Jésus plein de compassion pour les foules et donnant sa vie pour tous. Il nous rejoint aussi en évoquant notre histoire et notre fondateur. Il nous laisse entendre encore la dernière recommandation du cardinal Lavigerie : « …restez unis, unis de cœur, unis de pensées… » Il communie aussi à notre amour profond pour l’Afrique et le monde africain, ainsi qu’au désir de Dieu que beaucoup de jeunes entendent son appel pour continuer sa mission dans le monde.
À l’offertoire, des symboles très significatifs pour nous sont apportés en procession et servent à exprimer nos offrandes et nos intercessions : deux cadres avec la photo du cardinal Lavigerie et de Mère Marie-Salomé, le globe terrestre, une corbeille de fruits, le rosaire des M.Afr et notre croix, et finalement le pain et le vin.
Après la communion, nous écoutons attentivement la lecture de quatre paroles du cardinal Lavigerie à ses missionnaires : elles sont une source d’inspiration et d’orientation pour nous comme héritiers de son charisme et disciples missionnaires de Jésus.
« Allez-vous en sur les places et soyez mes témoins chaque jour » : telles sont les paroles d’envoi du dernier chant qui projettent une lumière sur l’avenir !
À l’arrière de la cathédrale, le Cardinal et les évêques saluent tous les participants par une chaleureuse poignée de mains.
Au grand salon du Séminaire, un délicieux goûter nous attend. Ce sont de joyeuses retrouvailles avec nos familles, nos amis et connaissances. On circule dans tous les côtés de la magnifique salle, autour de tables garnies de délicieuses bouchées à déguster et à partager. Puis, c’est le mot d’au revoir : « Avec le Christ, nous voulons rester fidèles à l’Afrique et demeurer dans la gratitude. »
Une corbeille de fruits à offrir
Gratitude et joie partagées ! Un regard du cœur plein de compassion sur les foules ! Disciples de Jésus et apôtres envoyés ! Paroles de Lavigerie, sources d’inspiration et d’orientation ! Le monde africain partout où il se trouve et parmi nous aujourd’hui ! « Restez unis de cœur, unis de pensées ! » Une poignée de mains chaleureuse à l’autre et à tous ! Vivre ta mission d’amour !
Soyez mes témoins chaque jour !
6 décembre 2019 – Polytechnique de Montréal
Accompagné des Sœurs Rita Toutant et Jocelyne Morin, je me suis rendu tôt le matin à la Polytechnique de Montréal pour le lancement du livre « Ce jour-là. Par qu’elles étaient des femmes. » Catherine Bergeron, Présidente, Comité Mémoire, et Josée Boileau, auteure, ont présenté ce livre en présence d’une large assemblée. Les témoignages sur l’élaboration du livre nous ont permis de saisir l’ampleur du projet qui a nécessité un travail acharné dans un délai très restreint, quelques mois à peine.
Déjà dans les couloirs menant à la Galerie Rolland du pavillon principal, 6e étage, une exposition de photos illustrait 14 jeunes femmes tenant en main un écriteau avec les noms des 14 victimes de la Poly. Ce sont des femmes comme elles qui ont été tuées parce qu’elles étaient des femmes; un féminicide. Une description accompagne les photos.
J’ai retrouvé Sonia Beauregard et son mari Dany Fortier quelques minutes avant la présentation du livre. Des piles d’exemplaires du livre se sont envolées comme par magie. Je ne me rappelle pas avoir senti une vibration d’unité d’esprit aussi puissant qu’à ce moment-là. Quelque chose de spécial, de nouveau, un tournant se dessine en cette 30e commémoration du drame de la Poly. La parole se dénoue. Nous venons de franchir une nouvelle étape. « Nos filles », comme cela se dit parfois, sont « avec » nous plus que jamais!
ANDRÉ-PHILIPPE CÔTÉ – Journal Le Soleil, 7 décembre 2019
Les commémorations du 30e anniversaire de la tuerie de Polytechnique de vendredi à Montréal dans l’œil de notre photographe Marie-France Coallier.
1 La comédienne Karine Vanasse Marie-France Coallier Le Devoir
2 Le premier ministre du Canada, Justin Trudeau Marie-France Coallier Le Devoir
3 Le premier ministre du Québec, François Legault, accompagné de son épouse Marie-France Coallier Le Devoir
4 La mairesse de Montréal, Valérie Plante Marie-France Coallier Le Devoir
5 La co-porte-parole de Québec solidaire, Manon Massé, et l’ex-ministre libérale Hélène David Marie-France Coallier Le Devoir
6 Une plaque commémorative à la mémoire des 14 victimes : Geneviève Bergeron, 21 ans; Maryse Laganière, 25 ans; Hélène Colgan, 23 ans; Maryse Leclair, 23 ans; Nathalie Croteau, 23 ans; Anne-Marie Lemay, 22 ans; Barbara Daigneault, 22 ans; Sonia Pelletier, 28 ans; Anne-Marie Edward, 21 ans; Michèle Richard, 21 ans; Maud Haviernick, 29 ans; Annie St-Arneault, 23 ans; Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, 31 ans et Annie Turcotte, 20 ans. Marie-France Coallier Le Devoir
7 À 17h10, soit l’heure où les premiers coups de feu ont retenti dans le campus le 6 décembre 1989, 14 faisceaux lumineux ont été allumés sur le mont Royal pour représenter les 14 victimes de la tuerie. Marie-France Coallier Le Devoir
CTV news – Published Thursday, December 5, 2019 – Last Updated Friday, December 6, 2019
MONTREAL — Thirty years after the worst mass shooting in Canadian history, official acknowledgment has come that what happened on Dec. 6, 1989 at Montreal’s École Polytechnique was an attack on feminists.
On the eve of Friday’s anniversary, Montreal changed a plaque in a memorial park that previously referred to a « tragic event » — with no mention that the victims were all women. The revised text unveiled on Thursday describes an « anti-feminist attack » that claimed the lives of 14 women. « I think it’s a very good thing, but in a way, I understand why it took so long, » said Catherine Bergeron, who lost her sister, Genevieve, on that day in 1989. « The event was such a shock and so dramatic that it was hard to admit the real origins of it until today. »
Thirty years on, questions continue to swirl about gun control, and violence and discrimination against women persist. Just last year, the man accused of using a rented van to kill 10 people and injured 16 others last year in Toronto told police the attack was a day of retribution because women sexually rejected and ridiculed him.
Nathalie Provost, who was shot four times in the Polytechnique attack, said using the right words to describe the Polytechnique shootings is crucial. « I think it’s very important to bear witness to reality. It was an anti-feminist act. It was obvious from the moment it happened, » Provost said. « I think that for those who will go there and take the time to read it, they’ll better understand what happened exactly on that horrible day. And that’s important for the memory of my friends. »
Claire-Anse Saint-Eloi, who is overseeing a Quebec Women’s Federation campaign to end violence against women, said identifying the attack as one against feminists opens the way to addressing ongoing problems. Three decades later, she said, victims of sexual violence, victims of discriminatory laws and victims of racism still struggle to be believed. « But when we name the violence, we can say what do we next? » she said.
Bergeron, who is head of the committee organizing this year’s commemorative events, said there will be a focus on the lives behind the names.
Those names are well-known and each year they are read out: Genevieve Bergeron, Helene Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, Maryse Laganiere, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michele Richard, Annie St-Arneault and Annie Turcotte.
« We know their names, » Bergeron said. « For the past 30 years, we’ve said them, reminding people that they were women, but who were they? What were their hopes? Where did they want to be? »
A new book written by former Le Devoir editor Josee Boileau looks closely at the events and the victims themselves. Commissioned by the organizing committee, the idea was to give the next generation a reference but also remind that the women were more than victims. « They were all very talented in a lot of fields. They were very energetic and nice and kind, » Bergeron said. « They were women that were curious to try different things — they were rays of sunshine in their respective families — that’s what comes out. »
Provost was a 23-year-old engineering student when Mark Lepine singled out women during his 20-minute shooting rampage. Fourteen women were killed — mostly students — while 13 people were wounded — nine women and four men. In a classroom, Provost came face-to-face with Lepine, armed with a .223-calibre Sturm-Ruger rifle. The shooter made clear he was targeting his victims because he saw them as feminists — people he blamed for his own failings. Provost survived being shot in the forehead, both legs and a foot.
On the 30th anniversary, Provost said she looks at the harrowing events in a different light now that her own children are around the same age she was at the time. « I more fully realize how young I was — I was a kid and we were kids — and it moves me a lot to see my kids and see they are where I was in my life — at the beginning, » she said. « I’m also much more sensitive to how terrible the loss of a child might have been for the families who had to survive after their kids (were killed) — I cannot imagine my grief and I don’t want to imagine it. »
Serge St-Arneault, whose sister Annie was killed that day, views the anniversary as a chance to come to terms with the tragedy. « We finally found the word that was missing — femicide — it was women who were targeted, » he said. St-Arneault was halfway across the world in 1989 doing missionary work at the Congo-Uganda border, and it took him a month to get back home. He was close to his sister — one of four siblings — and in the years that have passed, he has fought for tougher gun laws and an end to violence against women as a way of honouring Annie’s memory. « There was before Dec. 6, 1989, and after, » St-Arneault said. « This moment is a pivotal one in Quebec and Canada, that we must mobilize to build a society where women are safe. »
But for survivors and victims’ families, the fact the weapon used in the mass killing has yet to be banned by Canadian authorities is difficult to fathom. « It’s not easy, especially for the families, to keep fighting after 30 years, to keep facing the fact that the weapon that was used to kill their sisters and daughters is still legal and non-restricted, » said Heidi Rathjen, who was a Polytechnique student the night of the shooting and later became a staunch gun-control advocate.
Rathjen says they want to see « comprehensive, bold gun-control measures, » from the re-elected federal Liberals, including a full ban on assault-style weapons and handguns in short order. She pointed to New Zealand, which brought in a ban on assault weapons and rigorous screening and registration measures after a mass shooting at two mosques claimed 51 lives last March. « If the new government doesn’t act decisively and boldly in the public interest now, 30 years later, after having been elected twice on the basis of a promise to strengthen gun control, then when? » Rathjen asked.
-This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Dec. 5, 2019.
By Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press — Dec 6 2019
MONTREAL — There were promises to end violence against women and solemn reflection Friday as ceremonies were held to honour the 14 victims of the Dec. 6, 1989, anti-feminist attack at Montreal’s École polytechnique. On the 30th anniversary of Canada’s worst mass shooting, the House of Commons fell silent as members of Parliament remembered the victims who were targeted because they were women.
Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu fought back tears as she listed the names of the 14 murdered women. Gladu said that as the first female engineer elected to the House of Commons, she feels a special bond to the victims. « These women were my sisters, » she said. « I name them now to respect them for the strong women they are and they were. »
In Montreal, several dozen people gathered outside the school under a light morning snowfall as dignitaries and students placed bouquets of white roses in front of a commemorative plaque bearing the victims’ names: Genevieve Bergeron, Helene Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, Maryse Laganiere, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michele Richard, Annie St-Arneault and Annie Turcotte.
Members of the public also paid their respects in front of the campus, and among the first was Jean-Pierre Bernard. Bernard, went to high school in the Gaspe region with one of the victims, Sonia Pelletier. « I came for the 25th anniversary, and every year I wear my (memorial) pin. It’s very important for me, » Bernard said.
Later, families of the victims and survivors gathered inside for the launch of a book written by Montreal journalist Josée Boileau. The book, « Ce jour-la — Parce qu’elles étaient des femmes » (« That Day — Because They Were Women ») is to be translated into English next year. It takes a broader look at the advancement of women in Quebec society.
The families and friends of the 14 women killed at Polytechnique were involved in the book, lending their voices to talk about the lives — determined and full of energy — cut down too soon.
« When people will read this — particularly young women of today — they will recognize themselves. They’ll say, ‘There’s very little difference between who I am and those women,’ » said Serge St-Arneault, whose sister Annie was killed in the attack. St-Arneault said he’s happy that people are no longer mincing words when it comes to what happened at Polytechnique — declaring clearly that it was an attack against women. « I’m very touched by what I’ve heard today, it gives me some peace, » said St-Arneault, but his mind is not completely at ease. « We are still a society where too many women are being killed every year, especially by guns. »
In the House of Commons, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said gender-based violence remains a threat. « Each December, as we honour the memories of those 14 women, the survivors and the families, we promise to do better, » Trudeau said. « But the reality is that in 30 years, things haven’t changed enough. »
Trudeau highlighted the Liberal campaign pledge to ban semi-automatic assault rifles, including the weapon used in the Polytechnique killings, as evidence of his government’s commitment to action. « These weapons, designed to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time, have no place in our communities, in our streets, in our country, » he said.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said women should not have to fear for their safety simply because of their gender. « It is unacceptable that violence against women remains an issue to this day, » he said.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh warned that the « anti-woman hatred » that led to the massacre in Montreal remains a threat. « Thirty years after Canadians said, ‘Never again,’ following the Polytechnique tragedy, we need to recognize collectively that we still have a long way to go to respect that commitment, » Singh said.
Later Friday, as the clock struck 5:10 p.m. — the time the 1989 attack began — dignitaries, families of victims and the public gathered on Mount Royal for a memorial ceremony.
Fourteen beams of light were projected over the Montreal skyline as the names of the 14 women whose lives were taken were read aloud. Gov. Gen. Julie Payette told the several hundred people gathered that on Dec. 6, 1989, she too, was studying to be an engineer.
« I was in university, like (them), » she said. « By choice. I was there not to change statistics, not because of an ideology or activism — even though I am a feminist — but because I loved the profession and I wanted it to be my career. I am an engineer through and through. »
Catherine Bergeron, whose sister Genevieve was one of the 14 victims, said « it has been 30 years and it’s still important to remember. Tonight, I am reminded that in uniting the spirit of solidarity and tenderness, we all turned the tragedy into a triumph of the human spirit. »
Trudeau, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante, and Premier Francois Legault also briefly addressed the crowd. The prime minister received strong applause when he repeated his pledge to strengthen gun control.
To mark the 30th anniversary, 14 engineering schools across the country shone a beam of light in honour of the victims as the Montreal ceremony got underway.
On Thursday, the City of Montreal changed the wording on a plaque at the Place du 6-decembre-1989 to declare that the attack was an anti-feminist act.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2019.
GLOBAL NEWS – BY ALESSIA SIMONA MARATTA – Posted December 5 – Updated December 8, 2019
Thirty years later, we reflect and explore the progress made and progress yet to come from a massacre that sparked a conversation about violence against women. A new plaque to commemorate the École Polytechnique massacre was unveiled on Thursday, identifying the event as an act of violence against women. The event was previously referred to simply as a tragedy, without any mention of it having been a hate crime against women.
The new sign was unveiled at Place du 6-décembre-1989, a small memorial park in Montreal’s Côte-des-Neiges neighborhood. It was put in place just ahead of the mass shooting’s 30-year anniversary on Friday.
A new commemorative plaque was unveiled at Place du 6-décembre-1989 on Thursday to honour the 14 lives lost in the École Polytechnique massacre. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
On Dec. 6, 1989, a gunman stormed the university just after 5 p.m. on a snowy Wednesday evening and killed 14 young women who were, for the most part, studying to become engineers. The gunman, who had set out to kill women only, then took his own life.
The attack at Polytechnique remains the deadliest shooting in Canada’s history.
The new plaque reads, in French: “This park was named in the memory of the 14 women murdered during the anti-feminist attack that took place at École Polytechnique on December 6, 1989. It is a reminder of the fundamental values of respect and equality, and a condemnation of all forms of violence against women.”
Present at the sign’s unveiling on Thursday were Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante and Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough Mayor Sue Montgomery, among others. “We want people walking through this place of memory to know the horrific truth,” Montgomery said. “We should not be afraid to call acts of violence what they really are.”
Montgomery said that naming things for what they are is the first step in developing effective prevention mechanisms.
The borough mayor called the massacre an anti-feminist attack against not just women, but all people who work for equality.
Plante said that modifying the sign’s language to properly name the event for what it was is a significant step for a society to take to properly remember and reflect on the event.
She said it also highlights the importance of fighting against injustice and violence against women and girls. “The sign now clearly explains why 14 young women, who had their entire lives ahead of them, lost them,” said the Montreal mayor.
“We finally found the word that was missing — femicide,” said Serge St-Arneault, whose sister, Annie St-Arneault, was killed in the mass shooting. “It was women who were targeted.”
Annie was accompanied by 13 others, whose names are well known and are read out each year: Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard and Annie Turcotte.
Thirty years later, what happened at Polytechnique continues to spark questions about violence against women and gun control. For survivors and victims’ families, the fact that the weapon used in the mass killing has yet to be banned by Canadian authorities is difficult to fathom. “It’s not easy, especially for the families, to keep fighting after 30 years, to keep facing the fact that the weapon that was used to kill their sisters and daughters is still legal and non-restricted,” said Heidi Rathjen, who was a Polytechnique student the night of the shooting and later became a staunch gun-control advocate.
The move to change the plaque’s text to specify the nature of the incident was initiated by professors Mélissa Blais and Diane Lamoureux from UQAM’s Réseau québécois en études féministes.
The families of the 14 victims were honoured at Quebec’s National Assembly on Thursday, with leaders condemning the misogynist violence and promising to never forget what happened on that evening in early December, 30 years ago. A ceremony to honour the young women whose lives were taken will be held at 5 p.m. on Friday on Montreal’s Mont Royal.
— With files from Global News’ Kalina Laframboise and The Canadian Press
‘We cannot forget’: 14 women killed in École Polytechnique massacre honoured.
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Amélie Marcoux | TVA Nouvelles | Publié le 6 décembre 2019
L’une des 14 victimes de Marc Lépine était une Latuquoise : Annie St-Arneault.
Le 6 décembre 1989, à 23 ans, elle assistait à son dernier cours à la Polytechnique avant de graduer en génie mécanique. «Un cours auquel elle n’était même pas obligé d’aller», souligne amèrement son oncle Charles Morand. Annie St-Arneault avait un bel avenir devant elle. «Elle avait une entrevue à l’Alcan le 8 décembre, elle est morte le 6», raconte sa tante Justine Perron en laissant couler quelques larmes.
Tous ceux qui ont connu Annie St-Arneault ne gardent que de bons souvenirs d’elle. «Annie était une personne très gentille, très joviale», se souvient Chantal Fortin, une amie d’enfant Annie St-Arneault. La tuerie de Polytechnique fait aussi renaître de vifs souvenirs chez le maire actuel de La Tuque. Le 6 décembre 1989, Pierre-David Tremblay était un jeune policier en service à Montréal. Il se rappelle toute la gamme d’émotions par lesquelles sont passés les 200 ou 300 policiers touchés de près ou de loin par les événements. Dans les forces policières, rien ne sera plus pareil après la tuerie. Même après 30 ans, la cicatrice de la tuerie de Polytechnique est encore bien visible.