Montreal Massacre victims remembered at UTSC

Simply remembering the 14 women killed and 14 others that were injured by Marc Lepine in the Montreal Massacre more than two decades ago just isn’t good enough anymore.

That’s the message students at Rex’s Den at University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (UTSC) heard Dec. 6 during a noon hour ceremony marking the 1989 tragedy at École Polytechnique.

“I think there’s a lot of people up in positions of power in our country that don’t seem to think they need to provide the same level of funding that was provided in the past,” said Julie Witt, arts and events programming coordinator at UTSC. “Governments need to take responsibility and provide adequate funding to address these issues because they aren’t going away.”

The fight against violence toward women has made some strides in the last 20 years due to work done by various agencies, non-profit organizations and media awareness in general, attitude toward the issue is still a big obstacle, Witt said.

Victoria Tahmasebi-Birgani, an assistant professor of women’s studies, agreed. Society has to recognize the existence of violence against women within the community in order to prevent it, she told the room.

The campus event began with a slideshow depicting Canadian men infamous for committing acts of violence against women, including Lepine, Robert Pickton and Russell Williams. The presentation urged both women and men to take a stand against the gender-based violence that still persists today despite greater awareness.

Attendants were encouraged to share their own messages of hope feelings on the issue of violence against women by signing a banner.

“It’s an important way of highlighting and bringing awareness to an ongoing issue that we might think is being addressed all the time and is not as big a deal as it was to earlier generations of women,” said Witt, who added her own message to the poster.

Tahmasebi-Birgani read the names of each of the 14 women killed Dec. 6, 1989, and 14 red roses were placed on the banner during the UTSC remembrance ceremony, which also included a moment of silence.