And so their dreams, and hopes have been buried for fifteen years, voices and laughter abruptly silenced that fateful day. Tears and grief from loved ones carry on as reminders of what could have and what should have been. December 6, 2004 marks the fifteenth anniversary of the Montreal massacre that saw the lives of 14 talented and remarkable young women cut short, by a deranged individual set out on a quest to destroy lives and the progression of our society.
Barbara, Genevieve, Anne, Maud, Maryse, Annie, Sonia, Maryse, Anne- Marie, Anne-Marie, Barbara, Nathalie, Helene, and Michele, were all young women between the ages of 21 and 31 working or studying in an environment that promoted the exploration of ideas and the pursuit of tolerance. Yet, they were singled out, not because of their surname, not because of their age, not because of their beliefs, but because of their sex. They were women, taking up space in a traditionally male dominated field of study. These smart and intelligent young women were a minority, they were everything their murderer despised. They represented a change in higher education, a change in the balance of power, a movement away from traditional society.
Montreal, Quebec, and even Canada lost unbridled potential that these individuals could have brought to both the workplace and society. Yet, it was their families that felt a even bigger loss. They probably do not live a single day without wondering what could have been. What if Michele Richard had continued her studies and earned her PHD? What if Sonia Pelletier had climbed to the top her field? What if Maryse LeClair had been given the chance to have children? All of these dreams were robbed from these women.
What does this all mean? It simply means pursue your ambitions, take action against those who perpetrate violence against women, and condemn the hatred of any group in our society. University should be a time of growth, a time of exploration, and a time to dream. Honor the memory of these women by making changes in your own life to make violence against women a memory and not a reality.
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