Vigil marks 20th anniversary of massacre

Albert Kramberger
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Organizers of a Pointe Claire vigil to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Ecole Polytechnique massacre, when a lone gunman targeted and killed 14 women on Dec. 6, hope West Islanders will take the time from their hectic schedules to remember these women and reflect on the issues surrounding violence against women.

The West Island Women's Centre (WIWC) is teaming up with Valois United Church to host the Sunday vigil, an annual event hosted by the church. “It’s a sad time remembering these young women losing their lives,” said WIWC director Karen Henchey. “But it’s an opportunity to gather together and remember these women and listen to a speaker who will give some ideas to change our lives, and listen to music that touches everyone’s souls and provides some encouragement.”

The keynote speaker at the vigil will be Rosemary Reilly, an Applied Human Sciences assoc. professor at Concordia University. “She will present a reflection on our duty of redoing the world,” Henchey said.

Kerry-Anne Kutz is organizing the music portion of the vigil, as she has for the past decade. She hopes West Islanders will come to reflect on the 14 women killed at Ecole Polytechnique in 1989 but also other West Island women who were murdered in the past decade, from Kelly-Anne Drummond and Tanya Buschman to Janet Kuchinsky. “I am sure these 14 women had exciting plans for the holidays but never made it, never saw their future,” Kutz said. “I hope people will take the time from their busyness and shopping and come to the vigil. It would be lovely to connect as a large community.”

One of the women killed at Ecole Polytechnique was Anne-Marie Edward, a student who hailed from Pierrrefonds. A commemorative monument in her honour was erected in her hometown at Grier Park in 1998. Anne-Marie’s mother, Suzanne Laplante-Edward, went on to lobby Ottawa on gun control. Her efforts led to a Liberal government setting up new gun-control laws, including a gun registry requirement. Last month, the House of Commons narrowly adopted a private member's bill demanding the government scrap the long-gun registry. Although Laplante-Edward could not be reached for comment this week, she told The Chronicle in 1999 that the main accomplishment following the tragedy was the gun-control law. “Canada will never be the same,” she stated just prior to the 10th anniversary. “Dec. 6 was a turning point. It changed attitudes about violence against women.”

Meanwhile, in 1991, Dec. 6 was declared as a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

The vigil takes place Sunday at 4 p.m. at Valois United Church, 70 Belmont Ave., Pointe Claire. For more information, call the women’s centre at 514-695-8529 or check

Organizations: Ecole Polytechnique, Valois United Church, West Island Women Concordia University House of Commons The Chronicle

Geographic location: Pointe Claire, West Island, Grier Park Ottawa Canada

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