We must always remember

On December 6, McGill will host a virtual remembrance ceremony to honour the 14 women who lost their lives at École Polytechnique
Top row (l to r): Hélène Colgan, Anne-Marie Lemay, Barbara Daigneault, Nathalie Croteau and Maryse Laganière. Middle row (l to r): Sonia Pelletier, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, Maryse Leclair and Annie St-Arneault, Bottom row (l to r): Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Annie Turcotte, Geneviève Bergeron and Michèle Richard

December 6, 1989, is a date Montrealers will never forget. On that day, a gunman walked into a second-floor classroom at the École Polytechnique de Montréal. The gunman, who blamed feminists for ruining his life, ordered all the men to leave before opening fire on the remaining nine women, killing six. From there, he made his way through the school, targeting mostly women during a 20-minute shooting spree before killing himself.

In all fourteen women lost their lives (twelve engineering students, one nursing student and one employee of the university). Another fourteen people were injured, including ten women and four men.

Statement by SSCOW

In the lead up to December 6, the Senate Subcommittee on Women has issued the following statement to the McGill Reporter:

The McGill Senate Subcommittee on Women represents the interests of women students, faculty and staff at McGill University. Each year, on December 6th, we commemorate the lives of 14 women who were killed in a gender-based, anti-feminist attack at École Polytechnique. They were killed because they were women, and they were targeted because they were all assumed to be studying engineering. Today we honour their memories. As we do so, the Senate Subcommittee on Women invites the McGill and Montreal community to reflect on the reality that violence against women continues to be a part of our present. We recognize and highlight the ongoing systemic violence against Indigenous women in Canada — those who are missing and murdered number in the thousands. This year, we mourn the deaths of 17 Quebec women who were killed in domestic violence, including the violent murder of a young woman just outside of our campus gates.

We recognize that we still have to work towards ensuring that Canada is a safe and just country for all women. We know that women are far more likely than men to experience violence at some point in their lives. For some women, those most marginalized, these risks are even greater. Gender-based violence continues especially to harm single mothers, women with disabilities, trans women, Indigenous women, immigrant, refugee, and racialized women. 

We call upon our communities to recommit to ensuring the deaths at École Polytechnique were not in vain. As we mourn these deaths, as well as the many women and girls murdered or abused since then, we need to continue to work for gender equality, for policies that lead to gender equity, and an end to structural and individual violence against all people who face gender-based oppression.

The Fourteen Not Forgotten are:

  • Geneviève Bergeron, 21, was a second year scholarship student in civil engineering.
  • Hélène 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 second year student in engineering materials, a branch of metallurgy, and a graduate in environmental design.
  • Barbara Maria Klucznik, 31, was a second year nursing student.
  • Maryse Laganière, 25, worked in the budget department of the Polytechnique.
  • Maryse Leclair, 23, was a fourth year student in engineering materials.
  • Anne-Marie Lemay, 27, was a fourth year student in mechanical engineering.
  • Sonia Pelletier, 28, was to graduate the next day in mechanical engineering. She was awarded a degree posthumously.
  • Michèle Richard, 21, was a second year student in engineering materials.
  • Annie St-Arneault, 23, was a mechanical engineering student.
  • Annie Turcotte, 20, was a materials engineering student.

Virtual remembrance ceremony

In 1991, the Parliament of Canada designated December 6 as The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

“The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women is about remembering those who have experienced gender-based violence and those who we have lost their lives to it. It is also a time to take action,” says the Government of Canada website. “Achieving a Canada free from gender-based violence requires everyone living in this country to educate themselves and their families and communities on gender-based violence, centre the voices of survivors in our actions and speak up against harmful behaviours.

On December 6, McGill will host a virtual remembrance ceremony to honour the women who died that day. Principal Suzanne Fortier, McGill administrators, public officials and representatives of the Faculty of Engineering and the McGill Senate Subcommittee on Women will pay tribute to the victims and reflect on the gender-based violence that continues to be a reality for women, girls and 2SLGBTQ+ people across Canada. The ceremony will take place on December 6, beginning at 1 p.m. All are welcome to take part by clicking on this Zoom link.


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Rose Santia
2 years ago

Living a couple of blocks down from the Montreal General at the time, I heard the ambulances as I followed the chilling tragedy on live TV. I am saddened that 32 years later, women are still victimized for their gender. The pandemic has heightened the impact. How many more will it take to shake us all to action? 14 beautiful and intelligent women lost their lives, not in vain I hope, a double tragedy if so…