“Imagine every single adult women in Prince Rupert being gone,” Hans Seidemann said to a room full of people at Coast Mountain College during a vigil.
Seidemann, who graduated from engineering and now works for the city, said a woman is killed on average every two days in Canada. That is 4,000 women lost since 1989.
“Sometimes it’s hard for us to wrap our head around these figures but that number is really easy for me to understand. It is roughly the equivalent of every single adult woman in Prince Rupert gone,” he said.
Vows to end violence against women combined with solemn reflection as ceremonies were held Friday to honour the 14 victims of the Dec. 6, 1989 anti-feminist attack at Montreal’s École Polytechnique.
On the 30th anniversary of Canada’s worst mass shooting, the House of Commons fell silent as members of Parliament remembered the victims who were targeted for death because they were women.
Across the country in Prince Rupert, the North Coast Transition Society and Seidemann organized a vigil of their own where members of the community came out to speak.
|Susan Crowley, one of the founding members of the North Coast Transition Society, and engineer Hans Seidemann take a moment of silence to remember the 14 women killed in the Dec. 6, 1989 anti-feminist attack at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique. (Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)|
“It is also essential — if we’re going to ensure that the broader significance of this tragedy as a violent attack on women is remembered, understood and given meaning — to acknowledge it was not a generderless activity that it was an attack on women,” Councillor Nick Adey said on behalf of the City of Prince Rupert. “Guard the words and actions that we take, understanding that words have the power to harm and power to lift up. Finally, remember tomorrow as well, and the day after that. Anniversaries matter but it’s how we live the rest of our lives that matter more.”
“Thirty years later gender based violence and discrimination continue to happen everyday in places where we work, learn and live,” said Joey Jack on behalf of Jennifer Rice’s office. “Every week in our province there are an estimated 1,000 physical or sexual assaults against women. These assaults are disproportionately targeted at Indigenous women and girls, people of colour, transgender people and people with disabilities. The time for change is now. Together we will advance equality and build a brighter safer future for women in British Columbia, Canada and across the world.”
Susan Crowley, one of the founding members of the Transition Society, closed the remarks by singing Bread and Roses, a song associated from the women’s movement in the early 1900s.
The crowd gathered outside Coast Mountain College where members of the community read the names of the 14 victims and placed a rose down by the flag pole in honour of each one.
“Geneviève Bergeron, 21, was a second-year scholarship student in civil engineering. She played the clarinet and sang in a professional choir. In her spare time she played basketball and swam.
Hélène Colgan, 23, was in her final year of mechanical engineering and planned to do her master’s degree. She had three job offers and was leaning toward accepting one from a company based in Toronto.
Nathalie Croteau, 23, was another graduating mechanical engineer, and planned to take a two-week vacation in Cancun, Mexico, with Colgan at the end of the month.
Barbara Daigneault, 22, was to graduate at the end of the year. She was a teaching assistant for her father Pierre Daigneault, a mechanical engineering professor with the city’s other French-language engineering school at the Université du Québec à Montréal.
Anne-Marie Edward, 21, she loved outdoor sports like skiing, diving and riding, and was always surrounded by friends.
Maud Haviernick, 29, was a second-year student in engineering materials, a branch of metallurgy, and a graduate in environmental design from the Université du Québec à Montréal.
Barbara Maria Klucznik-Widajewicz, 31, the oldest of the victims, was a first-year nursing student. She arrived in Montreal from Poland with her husband in 1987.
Maryse Laganière, 25, of Montreal was the only non-student killed. She worked in the budget department of the engineering school. She had recently married.
Maryse Leclair, 23, in fourth-year metallurgy, had a year to go before graduation and was one of the top students in the school. She acted in plays in junior college. She was the first victim whose name was known and she was found by her father, Montreal police lieutenant, Pierre Leclair.
Anne-Marie Lemay, 27, of Montreal was in fourth-year mechanical engineering.
Sonia Pelletier, 28, was the head of her class and the pride of St. Ulric, Quebec, her remote birthplace in the Gaspé peninsula. She had five sisters and two brothers. She was killed the day before she was to graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering. She had a job interview lined up for the following week.
Michèle Richard, 21, of Montreal, was in second-year engineering materials. She was presenting a paper with Haviernick when she was killed.
Annie St-Arneault, 23, a mechanical engineering student from La Tuque, Quebec, a Laurentian pulp-and-paper town in the upper St-Maurice river valley, lived in a small apartment in Montreal. Her friends considered her a fine student. She was killed as she sat listening to a presentation in her last class before graduation. She had a job interview with Alcan Aluminum scheduled for the following day. She had talked about eventually getting married to the man who had been her boyfriend since she was a teenager.
Annie Turcotte, 21, of Granby, Quebec, was in her first year and lived with her brother in a small apartment near the university. She was described as gentle and athletic — she was a diver and swimmer. She went into engineering so she could one day help improve the environment.”
After each rose was placed, everyone present took a moment of silence.
Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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