December 6 Memorial

By Mary Chan

Mon. Dec. 6, 1999 marks the 10th anniversary of the Montréal Massacre, when a gunman opened fire at the University of Montréal’s École Polytechnique and killed 14 women. Since then, the day has been marked as a National Day of Action for Violence Against Women.

As with previous years, the University of Calgary is commemorating the anniversary with various activities, including a White Ribbon Campaign. Ribbons will be sold in MacEwan Hall from Wed., Dec. 1 to Fri., Dec. 3, and again on Mon., Dec. 6.

"The White Ribbon commitment is to reach men and boys with the same message of ending violence against women," said Students’ Union Events Commissioner Alix d’Archangelo. "But at the same time, we wish to encourage everyone who supports this effort to also support those invaluable women’s anti-violence programs, including shelters, rape crisis centres and transition houses, which are making the world safer for so many women today."

The Dec. 6 Memorial Committee is also selling candles and providing information pamphlets.

d’Archangelo encourages students to get involved in the days leading up to the memorial.

"The days beforehand are a good opportunity to raise awareness of the issues and resources available to both men and women, girls and boys," she said.

The memorial ceremony will take place Mon., Dec. 6 at noon at the Nickle Arts Museum.

"We have 14 candle holders for the 14 women who were murdered," said Dec. 6 Memorial Committee Chair Melanie McNaughton. "They come on stage as [the names are read]. They’re holding candles in memory of the women, but it’s also in support of looking for a solution to this issue."

Speaking at the ceremony will be president of the Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation (which provides scholarships for women in Engineering) Dee Parkinson-Marcoux and U of C Chancellor Jack Perraton.

For the first time at the university, some candleholders will be men, including Dean of Engineering Dr. Chan Wirasinghe.

"We have included men in the candle holders, and extensively in the program," said McNaughton. "It’s really important for men to be positively involved. If men want to put a public face on their support, it’s admirable."

After the ceremony, a table will be unveiled in Engineering C block, the result of a contest held by the Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation to build projects that promote discussion and communication.

"Engineers at the U of C built this table," said Engineering Students’ Society Vice-president External Karen Poirier. "It’s at least 10 feet long and made of real wood. It has a kind of stained glass in the top of the table with the names of the 14 women killed in Montréal."

For McNaughton, the massacre triggered awareness of violence against women in society.

"We actually recognize the issue of violence against women as pervasive in society," she said. "As a result of increased awareness, there has been increased awareness about the causes of domestic violence. We have more shelters, more programs for men who abuse women, more community support for women and many strides in the justice system."

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