On December 4, the University of Toronto Mississauga Sexual Violence Prevention & Support Centre and the Equity & Diversity Office held an event in honour of the fourteen lives lost to gender-based violence at l’Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal on December 6, 1989.
On that day, twenty-five-year-old Marc Lépine walked into a classroom of the engineering school and divided the male and female students. After claiming that he was “fighting feminism,” Lépine shot and killed nine women. He then moved into other parts of the building, targeting only the women, before turning the gun on himself and committing suicide.
The event, called “UTM Remembers,” had a memorial and vigil at the Peace Pole near the students’ centre where students placed white roses on the ground in honor of the victims. Representatives from the university committed to working against gender-based violence on campus and in students’ respective communities.
Memorials were also held on the two other U of T campuses. At St. George, a keynote address was given by Rania El Mugammar, a Sudanese Canadian artist and writer, whose work explores themes of identity, womanhood, Blackness, gender, and sexuality. They also presented awards to honour research that addresses gender-based violence. The Scarborough campus had a performance by Indigenous singer, songwriter, and activist Aqua Nibii Waawaaskone.
After the memorial, a community showcase was held at the CCT Atrium.
December 6 is now observed in Canada as a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.