The Montreal Massacre, 18 years later
Eighteen years ago today, at L'Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal, Marc Lepine opened fire and killed fourteen women and inured several others before turning the gun on himself. His reason seemed blunt and horribly antiquated for the late 1980s: he killed these women because they were female.
Today, across Canada, vigils and ceremonies are being held to mark the anniversary and to call attention to violence against women in this country. In fact, December 6th is now known in Canada as the National Day of Rememberance and Action on Violence Against Women.
The massacre has also been credited with changing attitudes in gun control and police response to such incidents:
The incident led to more stringent gun control laws in Canada, and changes in the tactical response of police to shootings, which were later credited with minimizing casualties at the Dawson College shootings.
"The Montreal Massacre was a monstrous insult to our core Canadian values. We believe fundamentally in the equality of men and women, and we believe all Canadians should be able to live in our country without fear of crime," said Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a statement released to mark the anniversary.
"On this day of remembrance and action let us honour the memory of the Montreal women who were murdered by misogyny by working together to protect the lives, dignity and equality of all women."
Many feminist and official perspectives have publicly identified the massacre as an anti-feminist attack and suggested it was representative of wider societal violence against women, and the anniversary of the massacre has since been commemorated as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Other interpretations emphasize Lépine's abuse as a child or suggest that the massacre was simply the isolated act of a madman, unrelated to larger social issues. Still other commentators have blamed violence in the media and increasing poverty, isolation, and alienation in society, particularly in immigrant communities.