This year marks the 30th anniversary of the deadly mass shooting at Polytechnique Montréal. On December 6, 1989, an armed man entered the engineering school (at the time known as École Polytechnique), specifically targeting female students. By the end, he had killed 14 women.
In response to the tragedy, Canada has recognized December 6 as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women. Most of Canada’s universities hold various events each year around this time to commemorate the loss and to raise awareness of gendered violence.
Since 2014, on the 25th anniversary of the killings, a special ceremony takes place in Montreal each December 6: fourteen beams of light illuminate the sky from Montreal’s Mount Royal in memory of the 14 victims. Starting at 5:10 p.m. – the exact time that the shooting began – the names of each of the 14 women is read aloud and, in turn, a beam of light is lit in their honour. As well this year, for the 30th anniversary, 14 other universities with engineering schools across Canada, from Vancouver to St. John’s, will each shine a light beam on their own respective campuses in homage to the 14 women.
In Montreal, after a minute of silence, a 150-person choir will sing two musical pieces to conclude the ceremony, which will be broadcast live across the country.
Since 2014, Polytechnique Montréal has also hosted the Semaine de la rose blanche (the week of the white rose), a fundraising event that collects funds for girls from disadvantaged backgrounds to attend the school’s Folie Technique science camp.
University Affairs remembers the 14 young women who were killed on December 6, 1989:
- Geneviève Bergeron, mechanical engineering student, 21 years old
- Hélène Colgan, mechanical engineering student, 23 years old
- Nathalie Croteau, mechanical engineering student, 23 years old
- Barbara Daigneault, mechanical engineering student, 22 years old
- Anne-Marie Edward, chemical engineering student, 21 years old
- Maud Haviernick, metallurgical engineering student, 29 years old
- Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, nursing student (Université de Montréal), 31 years old
- Maryse Laganière, Polytechnique employee, finance department, 25 years old
- Maryse Leclair, metallurgical engineering student, 23 years old
- Anne-Marie Lemay, mechanical engineering student, 22 years old
- Sonia Pelletier, mechanical engineering student, 28 years old
- Michèle Richard, metallurgical engineering student, 21 years old
- Annie St-Arneault, mechanical engineering student, 23 years old
- Annie Turcotte, metallurgical engineering student, 20 years old