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Vigils recall victims of Montreal massacre

By: Lindsay Kines, The Vancouver Sun and Canadian Press, Tuesday, December 7, 1999

   A speaker in Vancouver notes that 10 years after the 14 died, women are still afraid to walk or wait at bus stops alone at night.
    Thousands of people across Canada paused on the 10th anniversary of the Montreal massacre on Monday to remember, those killed and injured by violence against women.
   In Montreal, schools closed for the day, thousands of teachers attended a conference on violence and several hundred people attended a memorial service at L’Ecole Polytechnique, where 14 women were murdered on Dec. 6, 1989.
   In Ottawa, Status of Women Minister Hedy Fry (Liberal-Vancouver Centre) hosted a ceremony, and Prime Minister Jean Chretien addressed the House of Commons.
   In Vancouver, hundreds of women and men attended candlelight vigils throughout the day—at the Women’s Memorial in Thornton Park, at Pigeon and Oppenheimer parks in the Downtown Eastside, and at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
   None of the speakers mentioned the name of gunman Marc Lepine, who shot and killed 14 women because, he said, they were a bunch of feminists and he hated feminists. It was the worst mass shooting in Canadian history.
   “Time stood still in Canada on that day and for the families and friends of the 14 victims who were taken by this act of insane rage, it has never fully started again,” Chretien told the House of Commons. Even though Canada now has one of the toughest gun control laws in the world, it won’t change what happened, Chretien said. “The cold fact is that nothing we have done or will do can ever bring back these young lives.”
   Fry called upon everyone to join in ending violence so women can feel safe in their homes, in workplaces, in schools and on the streets.
   About 50 women marched along East Hastings from Pigeon Park to Oppenheimer Park—many of them carrying pictures of the 29 women who have vanished from the Downtown Eastside since 1978. The marchers included federal MP Libby Davies (NDP-Vancouver East).
   “These are women who have died because of violence,” Davies said. “But there are women who are living every day with it—on the street—because they’re homeless, because they’re poor, because they’re aboriginal, because they don’t have access to services.
   “I think December the 6th is a really important day for everyone to come together and remember the women who have already died from violence, but to look at what we can be doing now to prevent more women from becoming the victims of a very violent system and a very violent society.”
   At the Women’s Memorial in Vancouver, Angela Schira, secretary treasurer of the B.C. Federation of Labour reminded people that 10 years after the killings, women are still afraid to walk alone at night, still afraid to wait alone at bus stops, still afraid to walk into parking garages alone.

 

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Updated: August 21, 2016