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Events underway to honour victims of Montreal’s École Polytechnique shooting

Women take comfort in front of the December 6, 1989 memorial.

White rose wreaths lie on a commemorative plaque at École Polytechnique on Dec. 6, 2022 to remember the 14 women killed 33 years earlier.

Photo: Ivanoh Demers

RCI

14 beams of light will illuminate Mount Royal to mark those who died

Tributes are underway in Montreal today to commemorate victims of the École Polytechnique shooting on the 33rd anniversary of the tragedy.

On Dec. 6, 1989, a man motivated by a hatred of feminists shot and killed 14 women and injured 13 other people at the Montreal engineering school.

Under a biting December wind, white rose wreaths were laid at a commemorative plaque near the student entrance of the building as a few dozen students and staff gathered. All wore white ribbons to raise awareness about violence against women and girls.

At the end of the day — at 5:10 p.m., the time the first shots were fired — 14 beams will illuminate the sky above Mount Royal in memory of the women who lost their lives.

Flags outside of the school's main building are at half-mast and will remain like that throughout the day.

Maud Cohen, the president of École Polytechnique, graduated a few years after the massacre. She said young students usually walk into university dreaming about their future and hoping to change the world.

But at the same time we came through the doors of Polytechnique, which is a university where a tragedy happened a couple of years before and and we saw, we met students, our fellow students that went through these events, she said. So it was a mix of emotion.

Cohen said it was important to remember these young women that were full of hope, full of talent, full of potential for society. As the first female president of the university, she said she's also looking to the future, and the next generation.

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Justine Petrucci, a civil engineering PhD student at the school, said it's important to remember, for the sake of future generations.

I want to extend a hand to [future students] to let them know that they can take the place that they deserve at Polytechnique and in the world, she said.

Petrucci, through the school's GeniElles program, is hoping to be an ambassador for women in engineering. 

The more women you see an engineering or science, the more young girls get will get inspired ... I want to pick their curiosity and their interest, she said.

The anniversary of the mass shooting was proclaimed National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in 1991.

The women killed in the anti-feminist attack were Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michele Richard, Annie St-Arneault and Annie Turcotte.

CBC News with files from the Canadian Press

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