MONTREAL – Benedicte Robitaille is just 20-years-old.
She wasn’t yet born when the École Polytechnique shooting happened.
Still, it’s an event that’s played a big role in her life.
“I’m currently studying engineering at Polytechnique,” she explains.
“I had to remember. I had to do it.”
On Saturday, Benedicte joined hundreds at a vigil at the Mount Royal Chalet to mark the 25th anniversary of the day a deranged gunman walked into her school, accused 14 women of being feminists because they wanted to be engineers, and shot them.
“I was a friend of two victims,” said one woman who attended the vigil.
“But I think everyone was affected, whether you knew the victims or not. All Montrealers were affected by this horrific misogynist act.”
Many politicians were also present.
“Not only to remember what happened in 1989 but at the same time that there’s still a battle to do,” said Denis Coderre, who took the opportunity to ask for a gun registry.
Quebec Premier Phillipe Couillard publicly responded to the mayor’s statement.
“We will rebuild what is missing from the gun registry,” said the Premier.
Diane Dufresne and Marie Josée Lord closed the vigil with a song and 14 lights were lit up on Mount Royal, shooting straight up into the sky.
Fourteen lights in honour of the 14 victims.
Benedicte says the tragedy has only fueled her determination to become an engineer.
In fact, there are more women enrolled at Polytechnique now than ever before.
“I wanted to be an engineer so bad that I would not let anything stop me from doing so and I think those events only pushed me harder to achieve my dream,” she said.
While a gunman’s bullets tried to derail the goals of young women just like her, Benedicte is proof that the goals and dreams of young women continue to thrive.