Keeping the memory alive

It has been 14 years since that dreadful day in December 1989, when Marc Lepine walked into L’Ecole Polytechnique and killed 14 women in Montreal.

“What shocked everyone at the time, was that women were sorted out of the population and killed,” said University of Calgary Professor Hermina Joldersma. “This happened in mainstream Canadian society, a place where this is not supposed to happen.”

The Canadian government commemorated the tragedy by designating December 6 as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, encouraging others to promote awareness of violence directed at women. The Canadian government also called upon citizens to “reflect on concrete actions that each Canadian can take to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.”

“[The Day of Remembrance] serves to keep the names alive,” explained Joldersma. “It’s human nature to remember the killers, this ceremony helps put names to victims.”

The ceremony at the U of C will include the White Ribbon Campaign, where men can show their condemnation of violence against women and the Labyrinth, signifying trust in the winding path of life, as well as other activities.

The main ceremony involves 14 women representatives from 14 women’s organizations who were invited to light 14 candles in a ceremony commemorating the 14 women who lost their lives, on the 14th anniversary of the event. The program for the ceremony even presents 14 points to guide people away from violence against women.

“The number of times 14 appears in the event is a coincidence,” said Joan Chand’oiseau, this year’s program coordinator as well as the first student representative included in the ceremony at the U of C.

Chand’oiseau said she is honoured to take the role on.

“Originally, the event was solely a memorial to the 14 women who lost their lives,” recounted Chand’oiseau. “The families [of the 14 women] don’t want it to be just a memorial.”

The families wanted the day to not only be for mourning the women, but to sharpen societal awareness toward women’s issues and show what happens when gender issues become violent.

“We are hoping to increase the number of events to increase awareness, like anti-sexism workshops,” said Chand’oiseau.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.