École Polytechnique survivor Nathalie Provost on the importance of memory

Watch: Jamie Orchard speaks with École Polytechnique survivor Nathalie Provost

MONTREAL — Nathalie Provost was in the a classroom at the École Polytechnique in Montreal on Dec. 6, 1989, when Marc Lépine entered, separated the men and women, and began shooting.

After calling the women “a bunch of feminists,” he shot all nine women in the room, killing six, and then moved through the halls of the university, ultimately killing 14 women, and injuring 14 more men and women.

Nathalie Provost courageously tried to reason with the gunman, controversially telling him that none of the women in the room were feminists. He shot her anyway.

On the eve of the 25th anniversary of the shooting, after attending a conference organized with Montreal students, Provost spoke with Global News about the importance of remembrance — and of feminism.

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On remembering December 6

“I was moved by their [sensibility and their will to keep on with memory.

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“There was one student who expressed his recognition… he told us that he will remember and that it will be important to him. Everyone was moved because it was spontaneous.”

On bearing witness

“I’ve always borne witness all these years because I think what happened at Polytechnique is part of our story. When we understand from where we’re coming from, I think we can be a better society and build a better world.

“So when people express clearly that they want to bear that memory also, and that they want to remember, I think that what I’ve done was for something.

“They [memories] are vivid. They are very clear. It was a day that changed my life forever. Now I’m built with that inside me. I’m that also. It’s part of me, totally.”

On feminism

“I know that I am a feminist, by my values, by the way I educate my four kids, but I think I would probably do the same.

“I was amazed that we were a symbol of feminism at that time because for me, all the doors were open.

“When I was 23 years old, I had the feeling that everything was possible to me, and to my classmates.”


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