Dec 6. was the 32-year anniversary of the tragic massacre at L’Ecole Poly-technique in Montreal. On that day in 1989, an anti-feminist man entered a mechanical engineering classroom at the school. After separating the men and the women, he opened fire, murdering 14 young women and injuring 13.
The incident has since become infamous, and the day is now a symbol for women’s rights and violence against women across the country, as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
This day has some personal meaning to me, because for two years in 2008 and 2009, I attended a social justice based middle school.
One of the big assignments every year was to create detailed pamphlets with information on how to prevent violence against women, where do donate, all kinds of stuff. The top three or four pamphlets were chosen to be made up into dozens of copies, then on the Dec. 6 anniversary, everyone in the school would be broken into small groups to go out to a different street corner in Toronto, to hand out the pamphlets and try to collect donations for women’s shelters in the city.
The project consistently raises thousands of dollars a year, and the school continues to do this project every year to this day.
This experience always really stuck with me, and to be honest, it was probably the first time in my life I had ever done anything meaningful for my community in that sort of way. Ever since that experience enlightened me, Dec. 6 has always marked a day of self-reflection, as well as reflection on society as a whole.
Coming from a big city as well, I’ve had several female friends tell me stories of being approached, followed, chased, grabbed, you name it. It’s humbling to hear those stories, especially given that fact that in 25 years of living in Toronto I never thought once to worry about walking home from work at night, or taking a bus alone, or leaving a drink unattended at a bar for fear of getting drugged.
These are things that women have to think and worry about constantly.
Looking back on that horrible event in some ways shows how far we’ve come as a society to where we are now. Violence against women, though it still occurs, is more at the forefront of the social mindset then ever before, particularly on the heals of the Me Two movement that gained steam over the past five years.
Though, we still have an incredibly long way to go.
Have a story tip? Email: