Sheridan remembers a national tragedy


On Dec. 6, 1989, Marc Lépine murdered 14 women in Montreal’s École Polytechnique, claiming he was fighting feminism. In 1991, the Parliament of Canada declared the date National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, also known simply as White Ribbon Day.

Trafalgar and Davis Campuses will be holding memorial services on Friday to remember the lives lost in the shooting and bring attention to the issue of violence toward women.

Poster for the day of remembrance services at Sheridan College.
Poster for Sheridan College’s day of remembrance services.

“This event to me is beyond these women,” said Michaelann George, a professor in the Social Service program at Trafalgar Campus who is assisting in coordinating the memorial service. “These women are a symbol of what’s taking place in broader society.”

The ceremony at Davis is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. on the first floor Atrium and Trafalgar’s service will be at 2:30 p.m. starting in the SCAET lobby. Both are expected to last around 20 minutes.

Due to limited staff, both Hazel McCallion Campus and the Skills Training Centre won’t have memorial services, but will set up all-day tables containing information, illuminated electric candles and photos of the women who died.

After the opening statements and two poem readings by students, people at the Trafalgar ceremony will go outside to the Peace Garden located in front of SCAET building. There the 14 rose bearers, who are mostly students, will lay a white rose at the foot of each of the 14 trees as the names of the victims are read out.

A plaque mounted in Trafalgar's Peace Garden, listing the names of those who died in the École Polytechnique shooting.
A plaque mounted in Trafalgar’s Peace Garden, listing the names of the people who were killed in the École Polytechnique shooting.

“It is a difficult time of year because Dec. 6 is right during exam time,” said Shelley Barr, conference and events coordinator. “So to get students and coordinators all together can be a bit of a challenge.”

“[Trafalgar] is usually attended by somewhere between 50 and 100 people,” she said. “So hopefully we’ll get the same this year.”

Anneke Chambers, a third-year Illustration student, didn’t know Sheridan had an annual ceremony for the anniversary. “I think it’s important,“ she said. “I think it should be remembered mostly to respect the lives that were lost.”

To Visual and Creative Arts student Stephen Baltus, it’s a small gesture. “It’s good to understand that this happened and pay our respects,” he said. “But are we really doing anything?

For George, this is about bringing attention to a continuing problem.

“It’s important to remember this incident because violence against women continues,” she said. “The violence that takes place against women often takes place in silence.

“There’s no voice to say this isn’t okay and this event is a way to make it visible.”

At press time, organizers from numerous departments were still working out the details for the commemoration.