December 5, 2008 saw the UTM Womens Centre hold a memorial service for the nineteenth anniversary of the Montreal Massacre when Marc Lepine shot and killed 14 women at the Ã‰cole Polytechnique.
Natalie Ellis, leader of the UTM Womens Centre, welcomed those in attendance and discussed the importance of the issue on violence against women. She began by playing a radio clip by Katherine Canty of CBC News from September 2006. The broadcast was of Monique Lepine, mother of Marc Lepine, asking for forgiveness from the families of the women who were killed by her son.
Christina Da Silva recounted the events surrounding the infamous day. She noted the fact that Marc Lepines suicide note listed the 19 women he wanted to kill and the lack of effort to stop him from killing his victims.
Bobbi-Jo Duff from UTMs campus police, spoke about violence against women and emphasized the importance of not blaming the victims of gender-based violence. She encouraged the female students at UTM to contact security immediately if they feel their safety is ever in danger.
When the speeches were concluded, a candlelight vigil was held to remember the 14 women who lost their lives. To commemorate the victims, the name of each individual was announced and represented by a person coming forward holding a lit candle. A moment of silence then ensued, followed by a musical performance by Loriel M. Ducoy.
Joan Simalchik, professor and program coordinator of the Womens and Gender Studies Department, emphasized on challenging violence against women in our society, pointing to more recent incidents such as the murder of Aqsa Parvez, who was killed by her father for refusing to wear the hijab. She also discussed how more than 500 Aboriginal women have gone missing in Canada, and how the government, legal forces, and media consistently fail to bring enough attention to the issue.
Changing male attitudes that tolerate violence against women is one way to make a difference, commented UTM vice-president and principal Ian Orchard, who was also in attendance.
Joeita Gupta, representing the Association of Part-time University Students (APUS), gave the closing remarks. The lack of an appropriate and accessible daycare system in Canada, which disproportionately affects women since women are mainly responsible for working and looking after their families, creates a double burden for women.