December 6 is always a somber day for me. It’s one of those dates that has become entrenched in my memory, where I couldn’t forget the significance of the day if I tried.
In 1989, I was a 19 year old kid, living with an abusive boyfriend. Navigating and managing that relationship was pretty all consuming at the time. When I saw the news of the tragedy in Montreal, just like every other Canadian I was shocked and dismayed, but I was oddly personally unaffected. The magnitude of the event didn’t really resonate with me.
Five years later, I was the mother of a 2 1/2 year old daughter, I had left the abusive boyfriend behind and was starting university full-time, doing a double major in Economics and Women’s Studies.
Those years between 19 and 24, my entire life perspective had changed. Becoming a mother gave me a purpose and a direction that I had lacked in my late teens and early 20s. I didn’t know how to live for myself then, but I did know that I had to make different choices and build goals that would enable the life that I wanted for my daughter, and as a tangent, for myself. School was that path for me.
Becoming a mother also awakened in me a new understanding and acceptance of what it meant to be a self-identifying feminist.
December 6, 1989 cemented that for me.
During a remembrance ceremony at York U for the 14 women that were murdered that day, all of a sudden it hit me; those women were killed because they dared to want more, because they bucked the traditional definition of who could be an engineer, and then the magnitude of the day really hit me as I stood in Vari Hall, listening to the names of the women being read out loud.
It could’ve been me.
They were all a few years older than me, striving for more, learning and participating in a community, looking forward to a life that would have an impact on people, and they were gunned down because they were women, because they dared.
Today, I remember these women, and I ask you to remember that they were daughters, sisters, mothers, lovers, and friends.
Take a moment to look at their faces, read their names and think of what could’ve been for them in their lives. Then, dare.
- Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student
- Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
- Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
- Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
- Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student
- Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student
- Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique’s finance department
- Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student
- Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
- Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student
- Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student
- Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
- Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student
- Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student