I remember, on the day that JFK was killed, my older brother saying to me that John F. Kennedy had been shot, as if that ought to mean something to me. I had no idea who he was, but I knew that something important had happened.
I also remember that on 09/11/01, a friend called me and asked if I’d seen the tv. I knew something terrible had happend, but when she told me, I thought it can’t be this. It must be a hoax. And then that the world was about to go up in conflagration.
I don’t remember where I was on December 6th,1989. I don’t remember how I heard what had happened. Maybe because it was just a Canadian thing. Maybe because it was just women, nobody famous. It happened in the city of my birth but I no longer lived there. I don’t remember anyone in my family calling me or maybe it’s too terrible for me to remember, like other things that I have blocked out.
On December 6, 1989, in a classroom at the Polytechnique Institute (engineering faculty of the Université de Montréal), female students were separated from male students by an intruder. The man had a hunting knife and a rifle. His father had beat the crap out of him as a kid, and he had grown up to fight feminism with his knife and his rifle. That’s what he said, he was fighting feminism. He shot nine women in that classroom, then moved on to another class, looking for women to destroy, his own heart being already dead in his chest. He killed fourteen women before killing himself.
After briefing reporters outside, Montreal Police director of public relations Pierre Leclair entered the building and found his daughter Maryse’s stabbed body.
These are the names of the women who died that day: Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz.
I wasn’t going to name the man who killed them, thinking that his soul was lost when he walked into that school. But that isn’t right–there was a flame of light within him too, down below the pain and the rage and the twistedness that caused him to dowse the light of beauty he could not see without hate drumming in his ears. His name was Marc Lepine.
Hate has its many forms. This was one of them. And today I hold my daughters close, precious spirits and free, having no idea how such hate can manifest, the worst thing they know how to say to each other is “who cares” or “your bum.” May they be strong when they meet hate; may they be upheld by the sons and daughters of love.