Twenty-one years ago today...
A gunman confronts 60 engineering students during their class at l'École Polytechnique in Montreal on Dec. 6, 1989. He separates the men from the women and tells the men to leave the classroom, threatening them with his .22-calibre rifle. The enraged man begins a shooting rampage that spreads to three floors and several classrooms, jumping from desk to desk while female students cower below. He roams the corridors yelling, "I want women."
When it was over, 14 women were dead — only because of their sex. The crazed gunman had worked himself into a murderous state of misogyny in which he saw all women as being responsible for the limitations of his pathetic life. Even worse, he was able to get his hands on a gun.
This horrifying event had a huge impact on Canada's struggles with both women's issues and gun control.
But are people still remembering? CBC reports that "quiet ceremonies" are being held across Canada today. But 21 years also means that many of my colleagues today were preschoolers when it happened. To them, it must just seem like history.
But it's more than that. Today is Canada's National Day of Mourning and a National Day to End Violence Against Women.
But for some of us, it's one of those shocks that stay with you. I still recall the words on a poster at my girlfriend's house on the first anniversary of the massacre:"First mourn. Then work to end violence against women."