Today, like so many other universities across Canada, we mourn. We mourn the loss of safety. We mourn the loss of bright futures. We mourn the loss of 14 young women. Today we stand with l'École Polytechnique de Montréal and all those who identify as women who are impacted by gender-based violence.
It has now been 30 years since 14 students were targeted and killed in one of the most heinous acts of violence we’ve seen in our country and even after three decades, the pain of December 6, 1989 still reverberates to this day.
The scars of that day remain physically on those who survived the attack and also mentally within those of us who remember the news from the attack. As with so many acts of violence there was shock followed by disbelief and finally sadness. In the following days we continued with our lives, but we did not end at sadness. We remembered and we acted.
That feeling of disbelief and sadness made way for frustration and determination. Frustration for the fact that gender-based violence came to what was supposed to be a peaceful and welcoming environment and determination to ensure it didn’t happen again. That is what the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women is about.
Shining a light on gender-based violence
The University of Waterloo is marking the 30th anniversary of the École Polytechnique de Montréal attack by once again coming together as a community to remember and mourn. We are taking the time to pass on the vigilance and awareness we’ve held onto for 30 years and actively engaging our students and community to not let the memories of those killed drift away.
This year our university is standing alongside 13 other universities across Canada to mark this solemn anniversary by shining a beam of light into the night’s sky. I ask that if you walk by the light outside Engineering 5 that you pay tribute to the memories of those killed and impacted by the attacks at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal, but also think of those who still face gender-based violence on a daily basis.
Violence and discrimination against those who identify as women are still with us today and we must continuously shine a light on the issue so we can never forget.
We will never stop honouring and remembering the victims of l'École Polytechnique de Montréal, and I hope you will join me in ensuring no one who identifies as a woman, are faced with violence in their lives.