Sciencewomen

We remember the Montreal Massacre

i-f875c0b07d9b3cb6229668554781b35a-alice.jpgI send this information around every year on December 6 because, while the Montreal Massacre is a big deal still in Canada, fewer people know about it in the States, and we should know about it.

On December 6, 1989, an armed gunman named Marc Lepine entered an engineering classroom at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, Quebec. He demanded all 48 men in the class leave the room, lined up all 9 women against a wall, and, shouting “You are all a bunch of [expletive] feminists!”, proceeded to shoot them. He went into the hall and shot 18 more people, mostly at random. He finally shot himself.

He had killed 14 women all together, and injured 9 more women and 4 men.

The women who died could have been anyone. They could have been your friends, your mothers, your sisters, your lovers, your daughters, your neighbors, your students, your teachers, maybe even you.

They were killed because they were women.

Remember those who died in the Montreal Massacre:

Genevieve Bergeron, 21, was a 2nd year scholarship student in civil engineering.
Helene Colgan, 23, was in her final year of mechanical engineering and planned to take her master’s degree.
Nathalie Croteau, 23, was in her final year of mechanical engineering.
Barbara Daigneault, 22, was in her final year of mechanical engineering and held a teaching assistantship.
Anne-Marie Edward, 21, was a first year student in chemical engineering.
Maud Haviernick, 29, was a 2nd year student in engineering materials, and a graduate in environmental design.
Barbara Maria Klucznik, 31, was a 2nd year engineering student specializing in engineering materials.
Maryse Laganiere, 25, worked in the budget department of the Polytechnique.
Maryse Leclair, 23, was a 4th year student in engineering materials.
Anne-Marie Lemay, 27, was a 4th year student in mechanical engineering.
Sonia Pelletier, 28, was to graduate the next day in mechanical engineering. She was awarded a degree posthumously.
Michele Richard, 21, was a 2nd year student in engineering materials.
Annie St-Arneault, 23, was a mechanical engineering student.
Annie Turcotte, 21, was a first year student in engineering materials.

Please honour the white ribbon as a symbol of the fight against violence against women.

Comments

  1. #1 DV82XL
    December 6, 2008

    One of the blackest moments in my city’s history. Thank-you for remembering this tragedy with us, and for keeping the names of these women alive in our hearts. I am a man, and all men should feel some shame for Lepine’s actions, because every time a man does violence to a woman, because she is a woman, all men pay a price.

  2. #2 Aquaria
    December 6, 2008

    I had forgotten about that. Thank you for the reminder.

    What a terrible thing to happen… It makes the crap I was putting up with back then as one of only a handful of women in electronics maintenance in the USAF seem sort of… Minor.

  3. #3 Mr.
    December 7, 2008

    I was not aware of the significance of the white ribbon.

    Thank you.

  4. #4 PhizzleDizzle
    December 7, 2008

    Wow….I had never heard of this event (I was quite young when it happened), but it’s inconceivable for me to think it has never come up in the years since I’ve grown up. Thanks for informing us. I will remember those ladies today….

  5. #5 alufelgi szczecin
    December 7, 2008

    My father told me about this massacre. This was the very terrible event.

  6. #6 kiwi
    December 7, 2008

    This is absolutely terrible. Thank you for sharing this.

  7. #7 jo(e)
    December 7, 2008

    (o)

  8. #8 acmegirl
    December 8, 2008

    I didn’t know about this, and it saddens me beyond words. Such a loss, and such a waste.

  9. #9 Alex Palazzo
    December 8, 2008

    Having grown up in Montreal, I have to say that the Polytechnique Massacre was a horrific event that has lodged itself in the mind of all Montrealers. Guns are a menace to society. That similar events (the Concordia shootings, the Dawson Shootings) happened since then underscores why a liberal policy towards gun ownership is a terrible idea for society.

    In all cases the murderer was mentally disturbed and there was no way to predict that any of them would go haywire.

    I hope that we do not have to go through an event like this ever again. But until we rid ourselves of firearms I doubt that this will be the case.

  10. #10 Graculus
    December 8, 2008

    Women are more likely to be victims of crimes based solely on the fact that they are women than any other group. Yet somehow these are not “hatecrimes” and feminists should just shut up about it.

    Riiight.

  11. #11 Dwayne L.
    December 8, 2008

    @DV82XL wrote: I am a man, and all men should feel some shame for Lepine’s actions . . .

    Is that supposed to be a joke?

    Marc Lépine, frustrated with “women” as a group (actually, a subset of women), took out his frustrations on individual members of that group without regard to whether those individuals were actually responsible for his frustration.

    Frustrated with a subset of another group (“men”), you expect all men to shoulder the blame, just because they happen to be members of the group you have identified. You could just as easily have identified Québecers, engineering students, white people, immigrants, Catholics, bread-eaters, air-breathers, or people with the letter “é” in their names—and it would be just as absurd. Given that your frustration is about what Marc Lépine did, I find your response to be amazingly hypocritical.

    Exasperation? Sure. Anger? You betcha. Disgust? Absolutely. But shame? No, I do not feel shame or guilt for what somebody else did, thousands of kilometres away, when I was six years old. I am better than Marc Lépine, and it is ridiculous to blame me for his actions for no reason other than my sex.

    Awareness is one thing, but trying to replace sexist attitudes with more sexist attitudes isn’t helping.

  12. #12 Dwayne L.
    December 8, 2008

    Alice,

    This is somewhat off-topic, but I noticed that the accented “e” characters in my last post got mangled. The problem appears to be that

    <meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html; charset=iso-8859-1″ />

    and

    <meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html; charset=utf-8″ />

    appear on the same page.

    Pharyngula doesn’t have this problem, so I wonder if it’s something with the theme for this blog that you could correct by deleting the META tag. (Disclaimer: I have no idea how scienceblogs.com looks behind the scenes.)

    For other readers: As a workaround, you can usually go to some menu like “View->Character Encoding->Unicode (UTF-8)” force your browser to use UTF-8 instead of whatever it’s using.

  13. #13 Alice
    December 8, 2008

    Dwayne — thanks for the accent info, I’ll try to figure it out (or get honchos to figure it out).

  14. #14 JTC
    December 9, 2008

    Thank you, Alice, for keeping these women alive in our hearts.

    I was working for the CBC at the time, albeit not in Montreal, and still vividly remember the shock, then sadness for the lives and potential lost.

  15. #15 Valhar2000
    December 9, 2008

    [...]all men should feel some shame for Lepine’s actions[...]

    I feel anger, even impotent rage, but not shame. Why would I feel shame? I have nothing in common with the Lepine putrecence, except for a few bits of flesh; his demented actions do not reflect on me, nor are his vile ideas my own.

    So I will remember the Montreal Massacre, but holding my head up high and proud in defiance to the scum that would follow in this wretch’s malodorous footsteps.

  16. #16 Valhar2000
    December 9, 2008

    On another note, I thank you as well, Alice, for bringing this to my attention. I was a young child at the time, and never knew of these events until now.

  17. #17 Kemist
    December 10, 2008

    These are quotes taken from Marc Lepine’s suicide note:

    Javais dj essays [sic] dans ma jeunesse de mengager dans les Forces comme lve-officier, ce qui maurais permit de possiblement pntrer dans larsenal et de procd [sic] Lortie dans une rassia [sic]. Ils mont refus because associl [sic].

    Translation : he tried to join the army to be able to imitate Lortie (a mentally ill man who entered the parliament carrying an army machine gun to try to shoot our prime minister of the time, Rene Levesque), but was rejected for “associal tendencies” – the army thought he was off his rocker.

    [...]jai continu mes tudes au grs [sic] du vent car elles ne mont jamais intresse [sic] sachant mon destin lavance. [...]

    He studied disinterestedly since he knew his destiny beforehand.

    [...] pourquoi persvr [sic] exister si ce nest que faire plaisir au gouvernement. [...]

    “why make an effort to continue to exist if it’s only to please the government.”

    This guy was quite far gone in mental illness – his letter shows that he was narcissic (he brags about his school marks in a suicide letter) and obviously paranoid. Any sort of rethoric can drive these types to violence. Lortie, with his quebec separatist conspiracy theory delirium is a prime example of that.

    Yes, the rethoric is really bad. And it’s making an unwelcome comeback these days. I’m a woman and I’m getting really, really annoyed at the attempts to make “feminist” a bad word, and to ascribe all the ills of society, including many young men’s suicide, to women and “feminisation” of society.

    But I think that’s not really what this is about (even though it was a very graphic demonstration of the rethoric taken to its extreme). This is about a guy, to use crude language, who was off his meds. These types of things happen quite often when dangerous mentally ill people are left to their own devices. Some kill their parents and family, others their classmates. And very often, these people were detected as dangerous to themselves and others by family, friends or even medical personel and not helped.

    I don’t think all men should be ashamed of Lepine’s actions because they are men. I also think they should vigorously denounce the anti-feminist rethoric when their friends and family use it. But mostly, I think mental illness should be acted upon sooner to avoid this kind of tragedy, which happens more often than we think.

  18. #18 chall
    December 10, 2008

    Thanks for reminding us all. I have completly forgot it – now I remember the shock of being a young girl and listening to my mother being in tears when I happened.

    It really was a long time ago…. but thanks!! And it is important to remember. Maybe something will be done next year to mark the 20years?

  19. #19 Kemist
    December 10, 2008

    Maybe something will be done next year to mark the 20years?

    There is a movie made on these events coming up, realized by Denis Villeneuve. It was done in both english and french. I think it will get out for the 20 years.

    There is also a book, the title is “Vivre” (“Aftermath” in english), written by Harold Gagne from the experiences of his mother, who wishes to promote awareness of mental illness and depression and its dramatic consequences.