On December 6, 1989, an armed man entered an Engineering class at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal. After he forced the men to leave, he said he ‘hated feminists’ and began shooting the women students in the class. He continued through the rest of the school, firing at women on the campus. At the end of his rampage, he had murdered 14 women before committing suicide.
In response to such acts of violence, Canada established December 6 as the National Day of Remembrance & Action on Violence Against Women. It is a reminder of this national tragedy, and provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the nature of gender-based violence in Canada.
At UBC, we recognize that violence against women is an ongoing reality, influenced not only by sexism and heterosexism, but also by poverty, racial discrimination, colonialism, and other factors. We remember this tragic event and honor the women who died. We also need to ask why the violence against women continues.
14 Not Forgotten: Memorial and Vigil | 12:00 @ the Engineering Student Centre
Today, we remember #December6th, and stand together against violence against women. The white roses were placed by the UBC community at a memorial commemorating the murder of 14 female engineering students in Montreal on December 6th, 1989. Take the time to reflect and consider what you can do to #endVAW and support gender equality. #ubc #16days #letsthriveubc
“28 years ago, I was in my second year at university in civil engineering, just like Genevieve. As I look back, I remember. If not for all the mentors and role models, both men and women, I would not be here today. […] We must never forget, we must never become complacent. Not just to honor these women. Not just to honor the lives that never came to be. The women that never got to become engineers, entrepreneurs, leaders, role models, parents, grandparents… Simply because they were women who wanted to be engineers. We must never forget. Not just for them, but for us. If we are going to create an inclusive environment where everyone can thrive… […] One doesn’t have to look back 28 years to understand that. Even today, approximately every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner. This persistent reality of gender-based violence and harassment… We must never become complacent. No. We must be vigilant, relentless, in trying to create an inclusive environment where everyone is welcomed, everyone is included, and everyone can thrive. […] And as I look back, I appreciate how far we have come. […] In 1989, there were three female professors in engineering at UBC. Today, 40 per cent of assistant professors are women. In 1989, Canada was graduating 11 per cent female engineers, today we graduate 21 per cent. And here at UBC, almost 30 per cent of the incoming class are women. We still have a long way to go before there truly is equity, parity and inclusion, but we have made tremendous progress. […] Our community here at UBC has changed because men and women, faculty, staff and students have all worked together…[…] Today, I ask you to think about what you can do to continue this journey towards creating an equitable and inclusive engineering profession and society. […] Dr. Sheryl Staub-French is a Professor in Civil Engineering and Equity Lead in the Faculty of Applied Science. In 2014 she was named the inaugural holder of Goldcorp Professorship in Women in Engineering. Today we remember the 14 female engineering students killed @polymtl on #december6th, 1989. #letsthriveubc #endVAW #ubc #ubcengineering
“Twenty-eight years since December 6, 1989, this day continues to be a day when Canadians stop to pause, reflect and show concern about violence against women. The 14 women that were murdered at an Engineering class at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal were killed because someone thought that they, as women, did not belong in engineering. When those women were murdered, we, as a profession received a very deep wound. We were struck at the core by having something very special taken away from us – students, young engineers, young women full of promise. But there is more to it than the wound we received – the loss of those individuals – there was an attack on the value of diversity and inclusiveness in engineering. Diversity and inclusion celebrates the fact people are different. Without those differences, my world would be a much sadder and lonelier place. Diversity in all aspects is something that allows any group, team or organization to be greater than the sum of its parts. In order to have that diversity we must learn to respect all differences and consider the merits of all ideas, even if we do not choose to personally agree with them. However, to achieve benefits from diversity we must learn to stand together and accept others into our community regardless of our differences – supporting and caring about each other. For it is by living in – and contributing to – a community that we learn what it means to be a real human being.” #ubc #letsthriveubc #ubcengineering #december6th #highered #engineers #endVAW