Sombre ceremony held to remember Polytechnique victims, 28 years on
28 years ago tonight, a gunman stormed into the engineering school at the École Polytechnique de Montréal, killing 14 students -- all of them women -- and injuring 14 more. Gunman Marc Lépine was motivated to kill that night by misogyny and antifeminism, and sought only to kill women students at the school. It was the worst mass shooting in Canadian history.
Tonight, families of the victims, along with senior political figures, gathered atop Mount Royal to remember the tragedy. The ceremony was brief -- it lasted about seventeen minutes -- yet poignant.
Mayor Valérie Plante was present for the event and helped lay a wreath in remembrance of the victims. She was joined by Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau, the wife of the Prime Minister, as well as Deputy Premier Dominique Anglade. Plante and Grégoire-Trudeau both recalled being teenagers in the formative years of their lives when the massacre took place in 1989.
"I don't even remember exactly what I was doing [at the time of the massacre], because I just remember it was such a shock...to think that some women died, again, just because they were women. You don't expect that type of action here in Montreal, in Quebec," the Mayor said.
Grégoire-Trudeau added that while much progress has been made in the last 28 years, work still needs to be done to put a stop to violence against women and girls.
"I think that we're seeing change happen, when you see the #MeToo movement...what we need to do as a society is to make sure that they feel safe enough to talk and to feel safe enough that they know they can heal from this," she said.
As the ceremony concluded, fourteen "pillars of light" were shone into the night sky -- one for each of those who lost their lives -- during a moment of silence, just as snowflakes began to fall over the crowd assembled for the ceremony.