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FTP commemorates Montreal massacre of 1989

December 7, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Jasen Obermeyer

Family Transition Place (FTP) commemorated the Montreal Massacre of 1989 by holding a candlelight vigil on Wednesday, not only to remember those women murdered, but to celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

The first day of the annual event was November 25, the start of the 16 days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign. The campaign ends this Sunday, December 10, which is International Human Rights Day and the start of the White Ribbon Campaign, a movement by men working to end violence against women.    

FTP’s annual vigil remembers the Montreal Massacre. On December 6, 1989, at the Ecole Polytechnique Montreal, an engineering school at Montreal University, Marc Lepine, 25, shot and killed 14 women, injuring four men and 10 other women before killing himself. Mr. Lepine claimed he was “fighting feminism,” blaming feminists for ruining his life, as he was rejected by the school. The day is Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.    

Norah Kennedy, FTP’s executive director, spoke on how more and more women are coming forward on their experience with abuse and injustice, and how more are starting to be believed. “The roots of the shooting lie deeply entrenched in a societal norm that we are still to this day, trying to shift.”

She acknowledged and thanked police, and town councillors for attending, but said that this year, FTP didn’t want to do a proclamation, to instead personalize it for those in attendance.

“It’s easy for us as individuals to then think somebody else is taking care of it,” Ms. Kennedy said. “We cannot rely on somebody else to do that. We don’t do it, then who will?”

She said showing up at the commemoration event was not enough. “You have to bear the responsibility of making sure that this conversation goes forward.”

Blair Russell, a member of FTP, talked about the word “complicit,” and how it is Dictionary.com’s word of the year choice.

“I think all of us have been complicit at some point,” to violence, injustice, and abuse towards women in some sort.

He described graduating as a chemical engineer in 1987 without thinking about the percentage of graduating women in class and how it was a big deal, but how the Montreal shooting made him think. “For me, that was the start of a journey,” to bring awareness on violence against women.

Ms. Kennedy spoke to the men in attendance, saying the burden of carrying the conversation “is even heavier because you are the ones that need to affect the change the most.”

         

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