Tuesday, November 30, 2010

We remember the victims of the Montréal massacre

December 6 is the 21st anniversary of the massacre of 14 students, and the wounding of 13 more, at Montréal's École Polytechnique.

We remember those killed and mourn their loss. And we honour their dreams of completing their education and entering the engineering profession, where they would have contributed enormously to Canadian society.

The young women who were slain were: Genevieve Bergeron, Helene Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, Maryse Laganiere, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michele Richard, Annie St-Arneault and Annie Turcotte.

On Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, we remember the outrageous act of gender-based violence that took their lives. We know that we are not free from the threat of something similar occurring again. And we know that less horrific but still hurtful manifestations of violence are far too common in our society.

At Douglas College, we must take every possible step to ensure that no student is threatened, or feels threatened, by violence, harassment or discrimination. Having clear policies is one thing, but what is even more important is for all of us to take responsibility for creating and maintaining a safe and positive learning and working environment. Taking responsibility begins with educating yourself - knowing how to recognize violence, discrimination and harassment, and knowing what to do about it. The College regularly offers workshops on these subjects, and I encourage everyone to participate in them.

This memorial slideshow [French version here] was created by Chris McDowell in our Centre for Educational and Information Technology, with help from colleagues and from the Douglas Students' Union.

The slideshow reveals devastation, loss and political awakening, in epitaphs written by members of the murdered women's families, hand-stamped on tiles that encircle the national women's monument, Marker of Change. From there, it follows the activism of a Vancouver community under siege, struggling to draw attention to the high number of women murdered and missing on the Downtown Eastside. Here, we witness the birth of the anti-murder campaign organized by Indigenous women, the February 14th Women's Memorial March. The show closes with images of some of the memorials that have been created across Canada in places like Montreal, Guelph, Ottawa, London, Moncton, Calgary and the Highway of Tears.

On Monday, December 6, information about violence prevention will be available from the Douglas College Women's Centre.

December 3 update: I understand that the Douglas Students' Union will show Chris McDowell's video in the Atrium at the David Lam Campus on the morning of December 6, and hold a rose ceremony from 11:30 to noon. If you are at DLC on Monday, please drop by the atrium, especially from 11:30 to noon.

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