Day of tributes marks 33rd anniversary of mass shooting at engineering school
Lights shine for Polytechnique shooting victims
At the vigil for the Polytechnique massacre, the victims' names were read out, and beams of light shone into the sky in their honour.
While the rain drizzled from the dark sky enveloping Montreal Tuesday evening, the names of 14 women killed in the École Polytechnique shooting 33 years ago were read aloud during a sombre ceremony on the summit of Mount Royal.
White roses were laid by survivors and politicians on a podium inside the Chalet du Mont-Royal just after 5:10 p.m., marking the time and day of an attack in 1989 that was motivated by one man's hatred of feminists.
The attack left 14 women dead and 13 other people injured at the Montreal engineering school.
Just outside the ceremony, 14 beams of light were illuminated, pointing up at the night sky from the Belvédère Kondiaronk, which overlooks the city.
The short ceremony was attended by Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, Quebec Premier François Legault and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, among others.
"We gather to remember the 14 young women — 14 brilliant young women — who were killed simply because they were women," Trudeau said just after the ceremony.
The fact that there are still stories of women being killed today across the country means "we still have so much work to do to fight against gender-based violence," the prime minister said.
Plante commended those who attended the ceremony despite the rain, noting citizens, not just politicians, were there as well. She said is important to remember the tragedy while continuing to fight violence against women.
Like the prime minister, she said there is so much more to do to ensure "everybody is safe in their home, in their city and in their schools."
Earlier in the day, under a biting December wind, white rose wreaths were laid at a commemorative plaque near the student entrance of the building as a few dozen students and staff gathered.
All wore white ribbons to raise awareness about violence against women and girls.
Flags outside of the school's main building are at half-mast and will remain like that throughout the day.
Maud Cohen, the president of École Polytechnique, graduated a few years after the massacre. She said young students usually walk into university dreaming about their future and hoping to change the world.
Students and teachers reflect on importance of remembering Polytechnique tragedy
Montreal students and staff at Vanier College commemorated the victims of the Polytechnique with white roses and conversation in class.
"But at the same time we came through the doors of Polytechnique, which is a university where a tragedy happened a couple of years before and and we saw, we met students, our fellow students that went through these events," she said. "So it was a mix of emotion."
Cohen said it was important to remember these young women that were "full of hope, full of talent, full of potential for society." As the first female president of the university, she said she's also looking to the future, and the next generation.
Justine Petrucci, a civil engineering PhD student at the school, said it's important to remember, for the sake of future generations.
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Sophia Roy hopes this scholarship will give her more time to continue mentoring young women and participating in voluntary work.
"I want to extend a hand to [future students] to let them know that they can take the place that they deserve at Polytechnique and in the world," she said.
Petrucci, through the school's GeniElles program, is hoping to be an ambassador for women in engineering.
"The more women you see an engineering or science, the more young girls get will get inspired … I want to pick their curiosity and their interest," she said.
The anniversary of the mass shooting was proclaimed National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in 1991.
The women killed in the anti-feminist attack were Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michele Richard, Annie St-Arneault and Annie Turcotte.
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