A small group of Polytechnique Montreal students and administrators gathered on the school’s campus Wednesdy morning to commemorate the women whose lives were cut short in the anti-feminist attack exactly 34 years today.
Ceremony participants laid flowers at a granite memorial plaque bearing the names of the 14 massacre victims — 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, Annie St-Arneault and Annie Turcotte.
A minute of silence followed.
Polytechnique Montreal president Maud Cohen says over the years, this day has become really a symbol for the memories of these young ladies who lost their lives.
She adds that the anniversary also serves as a reminder of the importance of making the school — and society as a whole — “as welcoming as it should be for young ladies, but everyone that aspires to become an engineer.”
For Polytechnique Montréal energy engineering student Béatrice Cyr, the anniversary is an occasion to reflect on social progress and the women before her who were denied the opportunities and sense of security she has enjoyed in her field.
Cyr says when it comes to the anniversary, it’s very heavy to think about how the 14 massacre victims did not have the chance she has had to pursue her passion and to pursue engineering.
During another official ceremony held Tuesday evening, 14 beams of light — one for each victim — were lit.
Catherine Bergeron, president of the Memory Committee and sister of one of the victims, reflected on why it’s important to remember what happened on Dec. 6, 1989.
“We know that there is still too much to do to live in an egalitarian, open, peaceful society where women do not die because they are women.”
Several dignitaries, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier François Legault, were in attendance.
They were among those invited to place a white rose in front of the photos of the 14 victims with Legault commenting it was a “touching moment every year.”
“In 34 years, there have been things that have changed, but there is still too much work to do,” Trudeau admitted in a scrum after the vigil.
— With files from Global News’ Annabelle Olivier