On this day, 22 years ago, a man named Marc Lepine walked into the Universite de Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique with a hunting rifle. He chose one classroom, and told all of the men to to leave the room. He then systematically shot every woman in the room. After he was finished in the classroom, he walked through the school, continuing to shoot women before he put the gun to his own head and killed himself.
In his suicide note, Lepine blamed feminists for ruining his life. He also had a hit list of 19 women other women that he wanted to kill because they were feminists.
The killings at l’École Polytechnique motivated Canada to improve gun control laws, including the passing of Bill C-68, which introduced a system of licences for all gun owners and the registration of all firearms.
Lepine killed 14 women, and shot another ten women and four men. These are their names:
Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student.
Helène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student.
Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student.
Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student.
Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student.
Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student.
Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique’s finance department.
Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student.
Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student.
Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student.
Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student.
Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student.
Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student.
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student
This 22nd anniversary of the massacre is being made even more devastating by the actions of a Conservative majority government.
The Conservatives are in the process of pushing Bill C-19 though Parliament. This bill will abolish the long-gun registry and will also remove the sellers’ obligation to verify if a buyer has a valid licence, sabotaging the licensing provisions intended to ensure long guns are only sold to licensed individuals.
With Bill C-19, the Conservative government is pushing Canada into American cultural territory, where the archaic “right to bear arms” trumps public safety, regardless of the cost in human lives. Every year more than 25,000 women report being the target of domestic assault, while many (if not most) go unreported. When guns are used in domestic violence, many people, including children, are victimized and the likelihood of a woman’s death increases by 12 times. Today, one in three Canadian women killed by their husbands is shot and long-guns continue to be used in over 70% of firearm-related spousal homicides.
If you are a Canadian citizen, please reach out to your Member of Parliament. We can make this day into more than just a day to remember, we can turn it into a day that sparks real action in the struggle to eliminate violence against women.