By Jason Menard,
On December 6th, 1989, we lost 14 women at the École Polytechnique massacre in Montreal, QC.
Unfortunately, too many people remember the name of the gunman; not enough remember the names of the women we lost. You will not see the gunman’s name here. Continue reading
By Jason Menard
There are other days when their names can be obscured and their deaths conscripted to a larger cause. There are other days when the killer’s name will be spoken (and, all too often, we remember the victimizers more than the victims).
Today is not that day. Today is the day we must remember:
- Geneviève Bergeron;
- Hélène Colgan;
- Nathalie Croteau;
- Barbara Daigneault;
- Anne-Marie Edward;
- Maud Haviernick;
- Maryse Laganière;
- Maryse Leclair;
- Anne-Marie Lemay;
- Sonia Pelletier;
- Michèle Richard;
- Annie St-Arneault;
- Annie Turcotte; and
- Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz
How you choose to acknowledge this day is up to you. I appreciate that some choose to recognize December 6th as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. I can’t fault you for that. However, if that is the route you choose to take, I just hope that at some point today you will reflect upon these names.
It was a day of violence against these women that changed Canada. Yet here we are, over 20 years later, with a new generation that may not know any of their names. They know the date; they know the concept; but these women were not abstracts. They were living, breathing Canadians whose lives were snuffed out by a madman.
I remember their names because to allow their identities to be lost over time allows their murderer to succeed. Today, I choose to remember these 14 women. Tomorrow and the day after and beyond, they can be conscripted into a cause they had no intention of joining on Dec. 6, 1989.
But today, I choose to honour their memories alone.
Remembering the Light
By Jason Menard
Dec. 5, 2005 — Too often in our lives we are touched by tragedy, either directly or indirectly. And while the events are remembered and the perpetrators vilified, the victims often are forgotten.
As we reflect on the violence at École Polytechnique de Montreal 16 years ago Tuesday, many will remember the name of the man who killed these bright young women for no other reason than their gender. But we must never forget the names of those who were lost, for that would be the greatest tragedy.
Today we remember:
- Geneviève Bergeron (1968-1989)
- Hélène Colgan (1966-1989)
- Nathalie Croteau (1966-1989)
- Barbara Daigneault (1967-1989)
- Anne-Marie Edward (1968-1989)
- Maud Haviernick (1960-1989)
- Maryse Laganière (1964-1989)
- Maryse Leclair (1966-1989)
- Anne-Marie Lemay (1967-1989)
- Sonia Pelletier (1961-1989)
- Michèle Richard (1968-1989)
- Annie St-Arneault (1966-1989)
- Annie Turcotte (1969-1989)
- Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (1958-1989)
But these 16 are not alone. Like Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffey, their names become part of the back story, overshadowed by our infatuation with the macabre. Their killers’ names roll off our tongues, but the victims’ names are lost in the recess of our mind.
It’s time that we make an effort remember the victims. It’s time that we make the memory of their names more important than the existence of those who ended their lives. And perhaps by remembering what we’ve lost, we’ll work harder to prevent actions like this from ever happening again.
Maybe it’s just a human defense mechanism wherein, after a period of time, we have to push one tragedy into the recesses of our memories not only to make room for the next one that comes, but also to help us deal with the depths of these tragedies. When taken as a whole, the grief and sorrow that comes from empathizing with all the victims of society’s ills can be overwhelming.
But to help us find the positives in this world, we have to focus on the good. We have to remember the bright lights that have graced us with their presence – not the dark souls who have snuffed them out.
On this day, we need to remember the light that shone from these 16 women. We need to realize that they, and many other like them, are the fires that burn brightest in this world, illuminating the darkness and making this world a place to live – not just exist.
So as you hold your candle aloft, look deep into its flame and embrace its light and warmth. It’s the only defense against the darkness in this world.
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