On the 6th of December twenty years ago, a man walked into the École Polytechnique, the School of Engineering at the University of Montréal, carrying a semi-automatic rifle and a suicide note. In his note he named nineteen high-profile Québec women working in non-traditional roles, including the province’s first female firefighter and police captain. He described them as ‘radical feminists’ whose lives he would have taken that day but for insufficient time.
I’m not a fan of disaster porn and I don’t need to tell you the minute details of what happened next. Moving from classroom to cafeteria, the gunman separated women students from the men, and shot fourteen women dead. Nine other women were wounded, along with four men. These women were murdered for no other reason than one man’s hatred for ‘feminists’, for women pursuing a life beyond slippers by the fire.
Maybe they thought of themselves as feminists, maybe they didn’t. Most likely, they were just living their lives the way that seemed right, not driven by any greater social agenda beyond doing something they were interested in.
Their names were Annie St.-Arneault, Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Maria Klucznik, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, and Annie Turcotte.
I think they are worth remembering.