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A Beacon of Hope: A Personal Reflection on the 1989 École Polytechnique Massacre

Image of December 6 poster in English and French

December 6, 1989, was a tragic day in Canadian history when an armed man committed horrific violence at Polytechnique Montréal, killing 14 people and injuring 13. When word of this tragic occurrence shocked our nation, I was only 17 years old and a recent high school graduate. Despite the tragedy, two tremendous sources of hope emerged, which continue to shine brilliantly today: stricter gun regulation and the White Ribbon Campaign.

In the aftermath of the Montreal Massacre, Canada came together to reflect on the root causes of such a senseless act of violence. One significant positive outcome was the realization that stricter gun control laws were urgently needed. The tragedy prompted our nation to reevaluate its approach to firearms, leading to comprehensive gun control legislation, including the introduction of the Firearms Act in 1995. These measures have undoubtedly contributed to a safer Canada, reducing the likelihood of similar tragedies.

Another powerful response to the Montreal Massacre was the birth of the White Ribbon Campaign. This grassroots movement, started by a group of men at the University of Toronto, aimed to engage men in the fight against gender-based violence. Over the years, the campaign has gained immense popularity and momentum, spreading its message across the globe. Men and women have come together under the banner of the White Ribbon Campaign to raise awareness and advocate for change.

What began as a heart-wrenching tragedy in 1989 has become a source of hope and positive change. The memory of those 14 young women lives on through the dedication of countless individuals and organizations working tirelessly to prevent such violence from happening again.

As we commemorate the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, let us remember not only the lives lost but also the progress we have made. Stricter gun control laws and the White Ribbon Campaign are powerful examples of how a nation can come together to transform tragedy into positive action. It is a testament to our collective resilience and determination to create a safer, more equal, and more compassionate society.

Marsha Thompson (District 16) is a Member of the Provincial Status of Women Committee.

List of names of the women lost on December 6 1989

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