The tone inside the Cummings Auditorium at Women’s College Hospital was both somber and reflective Tuesday afternoon.
People from all walks of life, from across Toronto, gathered as part of a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, held to remember the lives and promise of the 14 women who were murdered at l’Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal on December 6, 1989.
Keynote speaker and feminist lawyer Pamela Cross expressed gratitude for those in attendance, telling the memorial that their support gave her hope for a future free of violence against women.
“I’m so thankful that you’re all here today,” Cross said. “There is a fundamental importance to acts of remembrance as it pertains to the women who lost their lives that day. It means we have chosen not to forget and that they will never truly die.”
A single vase containing 14 roses, one for each of the women who died at the hands of a suicidal Marc Lepine, sat in the centre of the auditorium. A 15th rose was then added to pay homage to all women who have lost their lives in domestic violence.
Katie McLeod is a graduate student at the University of Toronto. She said she was there to learn more about the history of violence against women.
“What (Cross) said really hit home with me,” she said. “I found that I don’t really know a whole lot about what happened in Montreal that day, but I truly believe it’s important for all women to educate themselves.”
Also in attendance at the event were Health Minister Deb Matthews, Deputy Police Chief Peter Sloly and Michael Kaufman, the co-founder of the White Ribbon Campaign.