Faculty of engineering hosts Polytech shooting memorial

Event commemorates those lost in 1989 anti-feminist mass shooting

The Price faculty of engineering is hosting a memorial this Wednesday for those lost in the 1989 École Polytechnique shooting.

The event is a collaboration between the Price faculty and the University of Manitoba Engineering Society (UMES).

On Dec. 6, 1989, a man with a gun walked into a mechanical engineering class at École Polytechnique in Montreal and killed six women, wounding three. He went on to kill a total of 14 women and injure 14 people before shooting himself. 

UMES senior stick Jasper Caners called the shooting “a tragedy that affected the whole country.”

Caners said the memorial has been held for a number of years and noted that engineering tends to be “male-dominated.”

“That has definitely been something that we have been trying to improve over the past number of years,” he said.

He referred to Engineer Geoscientists Manitoba’s 30 by 30 campaign, which aims for 30 per cent of newly licensed engineers to be women by 2030.

“We have a similar goal within our own faculty to do that,” he said.

As expressed in his suicide note, the shooter’s actions were motivated by misogyny and anti-feminism. 

U of M women’s and gender studies professor and program co-ordinator Shawna Ferris said that the Polytech shooting was a sign of a “culture of fear, loathing and violence against women, and in particular, women who get identified as feminists.”

 “Violence against women and gender-based violence generally is pervasive, so talking about it on Dec. 6 is important, but in women’s and gender studies, we talk about it every day,” she said.

“It’s hard to talk about gender without talking about violence.”

She said focusing on such “monstrous acts” as mass violence against feminists “misses the point” and sends the message that violence against women is a “monstrous exception.”

Ferris pointed out that Nov. 25 to Dec. 10 is the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, an international campaign endorsed by the United Nations (UN). 

In the wake of the shooting, in 1991, Canada marked Dec. 6 as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. The Government of Canada’s webpage about the day says that the “National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women is about remembering those who have experienced gender-based violence and those we have lost to it.”

White ribbons and white roses have become symbols to commemorate the tragedy. 

The memorial will take place this Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. in the Engineering and Information Technology Complex atrium and is open for anyone to attend.