Remembering on the 25th Anniversary of the École Polytechnique Massacre

Tomorrow is the 25th Anniversary of the massacre at Universite du Montreal’s Ecole polytechnique of 14 women. Today and tomorrow, across the country, there are vigils and sunrise services being held to remember. There is talk that some of the families of the women who were murdered have asked that we move on; so that they can move on as well. I am not sure we can ‘move on’.

There are articles in remembering the incident that use the headline “the day that forever changed Canada” – but that claim rings hollow in light of the events of the past few months.

Gun control – which seemed to be a just response to the horror of Montreal – is dead. We have parliamentarians saying that the best response to the unthinkable violence that was exhibited at that massacre is to support female engineering students – which seems to miss the entire point.

I remember that day – I suggested immediately that we lower the flag on the Manitoba legislative building and was told we didn’t do that – only did it for Manitobans unless it was for a national figure of outstanding importance. Later that afternoon, when it was realized that these 14 women had become figures of outstanding national importance, the flag was lowered.

I remember standing in the Chamber of the Black Star of the Legislative Building of Manitoba, where women, in a most unusual move of protocol, had been allowed in to have a time of remembrance.

I remember being asked to repeat a simple phrase ‘I am a feminist’. It was a declaration that women would not be afraid. The monster who did the shooting was “fighting feminism” and calling the women “a bunch of feminists.”

If you go on to a number of websites today – you will shockingly find that fight is still going on – and not just by men.

I was incredibly heartened by Emma Watson’s recent UN initiative – He for She – in which she stated in a most straightforward manner – feminism is by definition the belief that men and women should have equal opportunities. Seems like a pretty easy thing to endorse.

Twenty five years ago, sitting in a classroom, living out their right to embrace that simple statement were fourteen women: see CTV News – http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/the-14-women-who-were-killed-at-ecole-polytechnique-1.2134006#ixzz3L1p006pq

Doris Mae Oulton
President, CFUW-FCFDU
Dec 5, 2014 • Winnipeg

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