December 6th: National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

Thirty years ago today — December 6th, 1989 — some asshole went into École Polytechnique de Montréal (“Polytechnic School of Montreal” in English, an engineering school) and fatally shot 14 young women who were studying to be engineers. The asshole, who himself had failed to gain admission to the university, shouted, “You’re all a bunch of feminists and I hate feminists!”

I was an engineering student at Queen’s University at the time of the tragedy, and I remember the day — and the debates — that happened then. As a techie who grew up in Canada, I’m making it a point to remember the names of the women who lost their lives that day — all because they simply wanted to be engineers:

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  • Geneviève Bergeron (1968–1989), civil engineering student
  • Hélène Colgan (1966–1989), mechanical engineering student
  • Nathalie Croteau (1966–1989), mechanical engineering student
  • Barbara Daigneault (1967–1989), mechanical engineering student
  • Anne-Marie Edward (1968–1989), chemical engineering student
  • Maud Haviernick (1960–1989), materials engineering student
  • Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (1958–1989), nursing student
  • Maryse Laganière (1964–1989), budget clerk at the school’s finance department
  • Maryse Leclair (1966–1989), materials engineering student
  • Anne-Marie Lemay (1967–1989), mechanical engineering student
  • Sonia Pelletier (1961–1989), mechanical engineering student
  • Michèle Richard (1968–1989), materials engineering student
  • Annie St-Arneault (1966–1989), mechanical engineering student
  • Annie Turcotte (1969–1989), materials engineering student

In memory of this event, Canada’s parliament declared December 6th the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in 1991. Let’s not forget what happened then, and let’s remember that even today, thirty years later, will still have to contend with people who hold women in the same low regard as the asshole who opened fire on that classroom.

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Recommended reading

Why I don’t refer to the shooter by name, but just as “some asshole”

I wish it was my idea, but it came from Justin Pierce’s webcomic Wonderella:

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