Tuesday, December 6, 2011

December 6 1989

It was a day like any other.

It couldn't have been. I was twenty-four, and had an eight day old baby. I was staying with my mom and dad, sleeping in their rec room, with the bassinet close by my bed. I was probably nursing in front of the television during the six o'clock news.

Fourteen women were murdered, and ten women were injured  that day at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal. They were killed by Marc Lepine, targeted because they were studying or associated with engineering, females in non-traditional roles. Many of those women were my age.

Twenty-two years have passed since then, but I remember:

  • Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student
  • Hélène 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
I never knew them personally. I don't know their names, specifically, or their families, or what their dreams and aspirations. But I do know that they did not have the opportunities that I did. Their lives were cut short because they were women, because they didn't fit one man's idea of how women should present themselves in society. Their passions, their talents and aspirations, their intelligence, all snuffed out because of hatred. Misogyny. A society where women have been granted rights and freedoms, but still not equal on so many levels. Do you doubt this? Do you think that in the 21st century, we have reached a place where we can finally rest on our laurels?

Well,  this is Canada,  and on federal and some provincial levels, funding for the office of the Status of Women has been cut. Apparently, we have achieved our status. Shelters that protect women are chronically underfunded. Women are still paid less than men, and are under-represented in business and politics. Women who raise children on their own are at a greater risk for poverty because the programs that give them income, housing, access to education and job search support do not adequately provide for those who are most vulnerable.

And....my favourite....our  federal Conservative government recently voted to abolish the long gun registry, citing that it was costly to maintain, and punitive to farmers and hunters. The push for this legislation began when fourteen women were murdered in Montreal. Women in isolated, rural areas are at risk for violence - at the hands of partners and spouses who will no longer be required to register their weapons. Most police forces, and many provinces wish to retain the regsitry. The government is refusing to even provide the information that would allow provinces to set up their own registries.

Here's the thing. People will tell you that the women who were killed on December 6 have been immortalized by the feminist movement to push a left-wing agenda, that we have co-opted their names and their memories for the sake of promoting feminism, gun control and  abortion rights. That we no longer need to remember.

But we do. In Canada, the United States and many countries around the world, women are killed, violently, every day. Because they are women. Because they are perceived as being less valuable, as being the chattels of their fathers, brothers and husbands. They are denied basic human rights. They are told, on a regular basis that they should not have control of their own bodies. We have moved backwards, not forwards. The Montreal massacre was not the last time that women were murdered because of their gender. It should have been.

It should never have happened in the first place.


Laine said...

I can't say that I recall this horror, but thankful you remembered these women's lives with your words. I appreciate that.

Kalisis Rising said...

wow...I had no idea. I am not that familiar with Canadian history, in this respect; thank you for educating me.

this is a subject very close to my heart right now, as a woman who is employed with the EXACT same job description as my male counterpart, but paid 20% less. Right now in 2011! Seems unbelievable, but it's true.