On Dec. 6, 1989, Marc Lépine killed 14 women in an attack at Montreal’s École Polytechnique. Dubbed the Montreal Massacre, Dec. 6 now marks a national day of remembrance for Lepine’s victims.
For the third year in a row, the Engineering Society is hosting a memorial to mark this tragedy and to bring attention to violence against women in general.
Maddy Parrott, Sci ’13, is coordinating the event along with a committee comprised of 15 Kingston community members, representing a wide array of organizations such as EngSoc, Sexual Assault Centre Kingston, and Canada World youth. She said the memorial is important to all students, but especially to women.
“We felt it was important to encourage women to come in [to university] without being afraid of anything,” she said.
Queen’s has been hosting a memorial service since 2008 with each year having a different focus. 2008’s ceremony focused on aboriginal women, and 2009’s service had a film screening of Polytechnique that commemorated the 20-year anniversary of the Montreal attack.
Through a mixture of speakers and performances, Parrott said the Montreal Massacre memorial will show people that violence against women still exists.
“We want people to realize that violence against women isn’t a thing of the past. It still happens, and it needs to stop. It’s sort of an event to make people realize and actually think about it, instead of just not even really acknowledging it.”
The goal is to educate people, Parrott said.
“[We’re] letting them know that women can do just as much as men, especially in terms of things like engineering and sciences.”
A decreased budget for the event has meant less advertising this year, but word has nonetheless been spread via Facebook, a dedicated website, and numerous posters throughout campus and the rest of town.
The memorial service will include a speech by Jessica Yee, a gender equality activist, who advocates for anti-discrimination with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. The talk will focus on the continuing problem of violence against women.
Along with Jessica Yee, the Queen’s a capella group The Caledonias will perform before the rose ceremony, where 14 students will read the names and biographies of the women who were killed. Many of the speakers are female engineering students who volunteered to be a part of the ceremony.
After this, a candlelight vigil will be held outside to remember the victims of the École Polytechnique shooting. After a moment of silence, the names of Kingston women who have been the victims of spousal abuse will be read.
The event will also include information booths for local women’s organizations like the Kingston Interval House, which supports women and children experiencing violence, the Levena Gender Advocacy Centre and Women in Science and Engineering, which works to increase the participation of women in science and engineering.
Parrott said the ceremony tends to have a large turnout.
“Last year there were over 200,” she said. “So we’re hoping for that, if not more, again this year.”
A memorial service for the Montreal massacre will be held at 6 p.m. on Dec. 6 in Wallace Hall in the JDUC.
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