Monday, December 06, 2004

15 Years and 14 seconds of silence later...

On December 6, 1989, Marc Lépine went to the École Polytechnique in Montreal on a personal mission fueled by madness, hatred and vengeance. He purposefully entered a classroom where at gunpoint he separated the male students and forced them out of the room, leaving behind 14 woman to listen to his quick rant about how feminists had ruined his life before he shot and killed them all, one by one. Lépine then continued his rampage elsewhere, opening fire on all women he encountered, wounding an additional 13 before finally committing suicide.

The women killed:

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
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz

In 1991 Parliament established December 6 as National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women, celebrated annually by Canadians on University campuses each and every year since.

But 15 years later I wonder what, if anything, has really changed? It is indeed true that this single act of mass murder did force us as a people to examine the way violence against women permeates our society (culture, media, games, roles, etc) and it certainly did (and has) served to raise awareness of issues of domestic violence (and was the catalyst for the now desperately controversial national gun control laws and firearm registry), but is that enough?

These women were Canadian people just like us; sisters, daughters, mothers, wives, friends; all just trying to live their lives and all not expecting some senseless death as an end to that living. They could have easily been us, or someone that we know and love. We must dare to dream up a world where respect for life and humanity actually prevails over the temptation of violence, hatred and anger as a means for dealing with our frustrations, personal or collective. We must teach this to our children, or perhaps more accurately we need to learn it from them. I fear my generation may be caught up a little too much in our dutiful ritual grieving and too little in tangible action. We all want to change the world. This is a good place to start.

No comments: