Humber’s commemoration of the Montreal Massacre
By Lucy Sky
Saturday marks the Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women and the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.
Humber College held its commemoration of the massacre on Dec. 4 in the main concourse. Lone gunman Marc Lépine killed 14 women and wounded 10 other, all students at the École Polytechnique, before he turned his legally purchased weapon on himself.
Humber’s Business School Placement Advisor Sanjukta Das said as a part of the Humber diversity committee she feels that there’s a deep need for events like this. “Especially in collaboration with HSF, because we’re directly touching base with students, who are a very integral part of the coming generation,” she said.
The turnout of students was small, but Das said “there were a lot of students hanging around and listening, though they were not actively seen over here, because there is this barrier in the mind that ‘if I am there, I’m part of this.’” She added that although the students’ presence may not have been what it could’ve been, she’s just glad the message is out.
Sylvia Maracle, executive director for the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres, was invited to speak at the event and she echoed Das. “You can be small and mighty and really committed and go out and create social change, or you can have a large mass who are apathetic, bored and here because they have to be. So I’m always grateful for whoever comes out and just hope that somebody got something out of it,” she said.
Her speech consisted of a lot about the numbers of missing indigenous women. Maracle said 1,181 files were reviewed by the RCMP and out of those, 1,017 of the women had been murdered and 164 would be listed as missing. She said it’s all well and good that they looked into it, but she thinks the proof is really in if they make changes with respect to policing by the RCMP.
She also shared her views on how to better deal with the cases of abused women.
Maracle said she wants to do something about finding out why this violence happens, because putting the men in correctional facilities doesn’t stop it. “I think we should give her support and services but she should be able to stay in the home and care for her children and not displace everybody… why doesn’t he have to report every day and have counseling sessions and men’s circles and healing circles so he stops the violence?”
“It’s important for students to be aware of these issues because at the end of the day they could be impacted by it and knowing the resources available to them is important,” said HSF Services Director Sien Moi Ly. She also said she found inspiring the “solidarity in a sense and there’s raising awareness about the issue. In a public space like this, that can be very challenging, but having an open dialogue about it is important.”
Attendees were provided with roses and ribbons to show their support and a poster was put on a wall for people to sign.