Thirty years after 14 women were killed in an anti-feminist massacre at École Polytechnique in Montreal, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared more work needs to be done to combat gender-based violence and win the struggle for equality.
A gunman walked into the building on the snowy evening of Dec. 6, 1989 and opened fire in the school. He murdered 14 women and injured 13 others before killing himself.
At a commemorative ceremony held on Montreal’s Mount Royal Friday evening, 14 beams of light shined into the dark sky to honour each woman who was killed.
The ceremony brought together survivors, the victims’ families, dignitaries and the public. Trudeau, Quebec Premier François Legault, Governor General Julie Payette and Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante were in attendance, among others.
“We will reinforce gun control by banning military-style assault weapons,” Trudeau said during his speech at the ceremony.
He said there is a clear consensus on the issue at the House of Commons.
“We cannot let those women die in vain,” said Payette, who was an engineering student at the University of Toronto at the time of the attack.
From the House of Commons on Friday, Trudeau said that something must be done to ensure the massacre never happens again.
The attack at Polytechnique remains the deadliest shooting in Canada’s history. Thirty years later, it continues to spark questions about violence against women and gun control.
“The reality is in 30 years, things haven’t changed enough,” said Trudeau. “Women, girls and people of diverse gender identities still face unacceptable and preventable violence — violence that destroys lives, families and communities.”
As part of the grim anniversary, staff and students gathered at the school on Friday morning, where they placed a wreath of white roses at the commemorative plaque honouring the 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 are the names inscribed on the charcoal-coloured plaque.
In their memory, a book penned by former Le Devoir journalist Josée Boileau was released on Friday about the events and stories of the victims.
To mark the 30th anniversary, 14 engineering schools across the country also each shined a beam of light in honour of the victims.
The 14 women were also honoured on Thursday during a ceremony at Quebec’s national assembly, with leaders condemning the misogynist violence and promising to never forget what happened inside the walls of the engineering school 30 years ago.
The City of Montreal also unveiled a new sign at the Place du 6-décembre-1989 on Thursday to recognize the shooting as an anti-feminist attack.
“The sign now clearly explains why 14 women, who had their entire lives ahead of them, lost them,” said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante.
— With files from Global News’ Jane Gerster and The Canadian Press