|trouble (trouble) wrote,|
@ 2011-12-06 04:22 am UTC
I was 13 years old when Marc Lépine opened fire and murdered 14 women for being at engineering school when he wasn't. He blamed feminism for the situation he was in, and murdered these women for being in non-traditional jobs, for being there.
Every year, the memorials I go to are different. Some are quiet - I remember several winters in the snow, holding candles and reciting names like a talisman against violence.
Geneviève Bergeron, 21 years old. Hélène Colgan, 24 years old. Nathalie Croteau, 24 years old.
When I was younger, they seemed impossibly mature and sophisticated. I used to imagine them laughing and enjoying university, cut down without warning. Now that I'm 35, they seem so young, and I wonder if they were afraid.
Barbara Daigneault, 23 years old. Anne-Marie Edward, 22 years old. Maud Haviernick, 29 years old.
For the past several years in Halifax I've tried to go to the Not So Silent Night vigil. One year it was held near the cenotaph, another year at the public library. There is less recitation of names, and more screaming. There's less focusing on this incident, this moment, and more discussion of the number of women every year who are murdered, who disappear, who can't get away and now never will.
Maryse Laganière, 29 years old. Maryse Leclair, 24 years old. Anne-Marie Lemay, 23 years old.
Every year, there are people who roll their eyes and tell everyone to get over it. Last year a clever person at Dal compared the yearly observance to people who are still upset about the expulsion of the Acadians in 1758. Back in 1998, Vancouver changed their city ordinances to avoid making memorials that might "purposely create antagonism or cause distress" in direct response to the memorial for this massacre and the campaign to have a memorial to AIDS victims put up in the city.
Sonia Pelletier, 28 years old. Michèle Richard, 22 years old. Annie St-Arneault, 24 years old.
But I can't deny that this memorial always leaves me disquieted. We go silent for a night, or we scream for a night, we rage against the dying of the light. But 582 aboriginal women are missing or murdered, and we don't remember them the way we do these 14. We have a barely-acknowledged Trans Day of Remembrance. We don't talk about sex workers murdered whose deaths are so unimportant that serial killers can operate with impunity until they start on "real" women. If we started naming girls murdered by parents, women with disabilities murdered by caregivers, how long would our yearly remembrance be?
Annie Turcotte, 23 years old. Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, 31 years old.
I don't know, I don't know, I don't know. We name these 14, silently or quietly or screaming their names to heaven, because we can't name the others. Because there is enough controversy around this day, this naming of 14 women who were undoubtedly killed for being women, and we can't imagine the controversy in naming them all, acknowledging that some women are targeted because they are vulnerable, because they matter less, because they are hated beyond belief, because there will always be someone who tells me that women who don't want to be abused shouldn't be sex workers, shouldn't be "liars", shouldn't be in relationships, should just leave.
I forget this date is coming every year, and suddenly it's here, and I remember, I remember, I remember.
Geneviève Bergeron (b. 1968), civil engineering student.
Hélène Colgan (b. 1966), mechanical engineering student.
Nathalie Croteau (b. 1966), mechanical engineering student.
Barbara Daigneault (b. 1967), mechanical engineering student.
Anne-Marie Edward (b. 1968), chemical engineering student.
Maud Haviernick (b. 1960), materials engineering student.
Maryse Laganière (b. 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique's finance department.
Maryse Leclair (b. 1966), materials engineering student.
Anne-Marie Lemay (b. 1967), mechanical engineering student.
Sonia Pelletier (b. 1961), mechanical engineering student.
Michèle Richard (b. 1968), materials engineering student.
Annie St-Arneault (b. 1966), mechanical engineering student.
Annie Turcotte (b. 1969), materials engineering student.
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (b. 1958), nursing student.
Excerpt: Monuments policy toughened: The park board's new policy could be used to refuse future monuments that might antagonize people.
The Women's Monument, now in Thornton Park on Main Street, offended many people because its plaque specified it was "in memory and grief for all women murdered by men" -- not all murdered women, or all murdered people.
The AIDS Memorial became the subject last year of a Vancouver television station poll, in which the vast majority of viewers objected to it being erected in Stanley Park.
After much public argument, the AIDS Memorial is now set to be located near Sunset Park.
Ron Rothwell, chairman of the Friends of Stanley Park, which opposes all monuments in public parks, said the park board's new policy against controversial monuments is a "small step in the right direction." But Rothwell said placing the word "purposely" before the phrase banning monuments that "create antagonism or distress" watered down the guideline and opened them up too much to commissioners' interpretation. Rothwell also didn't like the fact that the board, in adopting the new guidelines, lifted its temporary moratorium on new memorials.
Nevertheless, Rothwell applauded the board's new stipulation that future monuments must make a park more attractive. He thinks that rule, if enforced, would cancel most proposed memorials.
Simon Fraser University applied ethics professor Mark Wexler said he could see why the board has decided, with this policy, that "it doesn't want to be in the controversy business."
Although Wexler personally doesn't mind contentious monuments because they provoke discussion and education, he said the Women's Monument was a highly unusual memorial because it pointed the finger of blame, in this case at men.
That's in contrast to most memorials in honour of Canada's war dead, Wexler said, which don't cast blame by mentioning that it was the Japanese or Germans who killed Canadian soldiers in the Second World War.
École Polytechnique massacre
Sisters in Spirit
Out of Sight Out of Mind? Transgender People's Experience of Domestic Assault [PDF]
Canadian laws on prostitution shown to increase violence against sex workers
Violence Against Indigenous Canadian Sex Workers
Violence Against Women With Disabilities: Probing the Scope of the Problem