I was in my second year of an Electrical Engineering bachelors degree at McGill University in Montréal in 1989. Twenty-five years ago today, at École Polytechnique, just a few kilometres away, fourteen fellow students lost their lives, and the rest of us lost something more intangible.
One of my good friends was in the building that day. My best friend’s sister, a couple of years ahead of me in her engineering studies, attended Polytechnique, and when I received word of the tragedy, the only thing I wanted to do was find a phone and call to make sure she was OK. The people I was closest to made it. Some of their friends didn’t. Women I’d met. Smart, interesting, beautiful women. Women who were going to make the world a better place. Women who got gunned down for the simple fact of being women.
It pains me that 25 years after the events the poster above commemorates, things haven’t changed very much. Enrolment in STEM fields for women is still a meagre percentage. Women are still being violently attacked and even killed because some men perceive us as less than human. Packs of trolls online target women for daring to have a voice in male-dominated fields. The gun laws that many worked so hard to put in place after Polytechnique have been eroded.
So if you see me posting items that encourage women in science and technology, that denounce harassment of women and girls in its myriad forms, that point out stereotypes that demean women, this is why. Because I remember. And because we have more work to do.
Plus Jamais — Never Again
Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student.
Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student.
Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student.
Barbara Daigneault (born 1967) mechanical engineering student.
Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student.
Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student.
Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique’s finance department.
Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student.
Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student.
Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student.
Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student.
Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student.
Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student.
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student.