Trans community gathers to mourn lives lost on sacred day

Montreal’s first trans remembrance march honours and celebrates the lives taken away too soon.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) on Nov. 20 saw the Montreal community gather for its first trans remembrance march to honour the trans lives that have been lost to hate. Hundreds of supporters gathered at the Sir-George-Étienne Cartier monument where candles lit up the night sky and a large trans flag was draped in front of the monument. 

The commemoration started with a speech from Celeste Trianon, a transfeminine jurist and one of the organizers of the march, and other queer group members. Trianon commemorated all the trans people who have died in recent years.  After a moment of silence, the group gathered on Park Avenue for a quiet march towards Mont-Royal street.  

Trianon felt that a traditional vigil was the best way to commemorate these lives. She did not want to steer away from the “remembering” part of a vigil, and wanted to bring attention our society’s failure to protect the members of the trans community. 

“Some people only define trans remembrance as remembering murders, but I want to go beyond that,” said Trianon. “There are trans people all around us and it’s important to mark how, in the vast majority of cases, trans people have ended up dying owing to vast failures, whether it be society’s failure to eradicate anti-trans hate, failures within mental health support systems and the schooling system.”

On Oct. 20, Saskatchewan’s conservative government passed Bill 137, or The Parental Bill of Rights, which uses a notwithstanding clause to prevent trans youth from changing their names or pronouns in schools. For the youth under the age of 16 who want to change their name or pronouns will need parental consent first. When Trianon found out about the bill’s passing, she was horrified. 

This bill is one of the many recent examples targeting the trans community in the last few months. According to True Colors United, over 320 murders towards trans people have been confirmed globally in this year alone.

“These people will never get the respect that they deserve. Their death certificate will indicate the wrong name. They’ll be purposely misgendered by their parents,” said Trianon.

Fae Johnstone, president of Queer Momentum, accompanied Trianon to Ottawa to confront the Trudeau government about an action plan for trans equality and protection. As trans hate grows across the country, Johnstone believes that a commemoration like this is necessary for all 2SLGBTQIA+ people.

“It’s more important than ever that none of those names are forgotten and that we remember that the fight that our trans elders began decades ago,” said Johnstone. “It’s still unfinished, and that is what these marches and gatherings really are all about.”

In 1999, the TDoR came into existence following the brutal murder of Rita Hester, a trans woman of colour, in her home on Nov. 28., 1998. To this day, her murder remains unsolved. 

Even though Hester never received the justice she deserved, her name and that of every trans life that is no longer here, will never be forgotten. 

After the quiet march down Park Avenue and Mount-Royal street, the group stopped in front of Mount-Royal metro to lie down on the ground in honour of all trans people killed. They lay there in another moment of silence as Trianon addressed the group. 

“Let us build a road in which trans people, especially trans women, and in particular trans women of colour, are allowed not only to survive, but to thrive” she spoke. “Let us dream of a better road for trans people everywhere and make sure these dreams come true. If there’s hope for the future, it’s our duty to make it happen, not just for the privileged ones among us, but all of us.”

Smoke bombs were ignited, releasing the colours of the trans flag: pink, blue, and white. 

“For you Cici, for you Jasmine, and Victor. For you Jesse, for you Jacob. We shall continue to remember. For all of you who I have failed to name, but I know are there. For all, and for all of you who are barely hanging in there,” Trianon ended her speech.


Remembering World War II

On Sept. 10, the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies and the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Montreal hosted a night where survivors shared their most striking memories from World War II.

The idea was orchestrated by Concordia History Professor, Alison Rowley, who wanted to approach the commemoration of such a tragic event in the most humane way possible. The Institute, which is part of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of Concordia University, brought together five Polish-Canadians; Lech Andrzej Czerwiński, Kajetan Biniecki, Teresa Romer, Mila Messner and Halina Babińska. All five took turns to recount their own experiences of the war.

The context has never been an easy one to recall. Poland first got attacked by Nazi Germans in September 1939. And while struggling to defend its territory it also got attacked by the Soviet Union, under the guise that the Red Army was there to protect its own citizens living in various parts of Poland. War was everywhere.

“When you talk about a place such as [Poland] that lost at least four and a half million of its citizens, when you talk about numbers that size, it’s so big that it’s almost meaningless,” said Dr. Rowley. “It’s hard for human beings to understand anything on that scale, and that’s why evenings like this are so important. Because what we have done here is we [share] memories of individuals, and those stories resonate.”

Rowley argued that shared memories are perhaps more powerful than numbers. And truthfully, one can easily imagine what kind of impact intimately shared recollections of the war have on someone, rather than reading about it in a history book.

Each speaker brought a different angle, yet the same poignant feeling remained throughout the evening. All spoke of the oppressive situation, describing the dark clouds as an omen of disaster as they heard the names of their relatives, through the loudspeakers, being called to never be seen again.

“There were so many aspects of living in this rotten society,” said Messner, who was 16 years old when the war erupted. “You would be afraid of your neighbours, but then you could also be momentarily helped by German soldiers.”

Those individual stories are different lenses of the world, which is what Rowley tried to emphasize. We all have families, friends we care about and we all have seen the strength of the human spirit and the humanity that binds us together, she said.

But probably the most heart-wrenching moment was when Czerwiński, who’s now 97 years old, solemnly recalled his group of friends, one by one, and what horrific fate the war brought upon some of them, while it spared others.

“We were asking, always, the question why all those horrible things were happening,” said Czerwiński. “We decided that war was inevitable. So whatever would come, we would attempt to survive [these horrible times]. But each attempt to prevent provocation would result in the murder of at least 10 citizens. The only way to survive these horrors was to have a clear mind and to think properly. It’s the only answer I can give you.”


Photo by Virginie Ann 


Using light to combat hate

Interfaith commemoration for the victims of the Quebec City mosque shooting

“Six muslim men were killed and 19 others were injured. It was the single most deadliest Islamophobic attack in Canadian history,” said Sarah Abou-Bakr, Concordia student and a staff worker for the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM). On Jan. 29, Abou-Bakr led the interfaith commemoration of the Quebec City mosque shooting that happened on the event’s two year anniversary.

The commemoration was organized by the Concordia Student Union’s (CSU) Legal Clinic, NCCM and the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), and took place in the Hall building.

“First and foremost we stand in solidarity with the families of these six men whose lives were taken from them, as well as with those who were injured during or witnessed this attack,” Abou-Bakr said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you continue to heal.”

Elder Vicky Boldo from the Aboriginal Student Resource Centre dedicated a women’s healing song to those affected by the shooting, following Abou-Bakr’s speech.

Camille Thompson, external affairs and mobilization coordinator at the CSU, said that as someone from Quebec City, she was ashamed that such violence took place in her hometown. Thompson hopes the government will address the city’s systemic Islamophobia to work toward a world without hate.

After a reading from the Quran, Rev. Ellie Hummel, coordinator of Concordia’s Multi-faith and Spirituality Centre took the microphone. “How long, oh god, must you people suffer in vain?” Hummel asked. “How many more commemorations do we need to attend, for mosque shootings, or synagogue shootings, or shootings of black churches, or violence based on race or gender, or religion, or whatever else? How many more?”

The 30 some crowd members were in awe throughout the ceremony; even students lining up to eat at Concordia’s People’s Potato listened intently.

“Just three months ago we were here […] to remember those who were killed in a synagogue in the United States and unfortunately, this [hate] has continued to grow,” said Imam Salam Elmenyawi, president of the Conseil musulman de Montréal. He spoke about the importance of words: “Good words matter,” and “Bad words matter,” he said.

Rabbi Yisroel Bernath, associate Chaplain at Concordia, said that as a community, it’s not simply about commemorating. “One of the great ethical questions of our time is a question that’s been asked over and over again: ‘Is darkness a creation of its own? Or is it the absence of light?’” Bernath asked. “What’s beautiful about light is that if you take one light and you light another, nothing gets extinguished from yourself. You only add more light into the world.”

Bernath believes that darkness is the absence of light. “Today is not just about remembering, but to live it and to say ‘what am I going to do today, to add my light into the world,’” he said.

“We are stronger when we stand together,” said Abou-Bakr. Photo by Mia Anhoury.

“It’s so ironic that two days after the international remembrance day we have to hold this event to think about one of the most violent, hateful Islamophobic crimes in this province,” said Fo Niemi, executive director of CRARR.

Niemi also mentioned how just the day before, the Quebec government asked school boards in Montreal how many of their teachers wear religious symbols or garments. The Globe and Mail reported that school boards received a call from a deputy education minister asking them for those numbers. They replied they do not have such records.

“We need a government that will be on our side,” said Niemi. “For our rights, for our fundamental human rights, for our fundamental human values, and not a government that tolerates discrimination, that promotes discrimination or that legislates discrimination.”

The Globe and Mail also reported that asking how many teachers wear religious items violates provincial and federal laws against religious discrimination, according to legal advice given to representatives of the school boards.

Niemi related the commemoration of the mosque shooting to the current political climate in Quebec. “After today, with all the tears, with all the emotions, I sincerely hope that the CSU, all of you, and all of the student associations on this campus and beyond will come together to overcome the kind of things that often keep us apart, so that we can come together and say it loudly to governments,” Niemi said. “We must create and promote a legacy of peace, and equality, and respect of diversity, because this is what the declaration of human rights is all about.”

At the end of the ceremony, Gospel Singer Amanda Ben sang, “Will the circle be unbroken,” and speakers went up one by one to light a candle for each of the six men who were killed.

According to CBC, Aymen Derbali, a survivor who was left paralyzed after being shot seven times, and Azzedine Soufiane, a victim who managed to take down the gunman for several seconds, were both awarded medals of honour yesterday, for their acts of courage.

Photos by Mia Anhoury.

Student Life

The rebranding of history

“Blackout” questions how much has changed since 1969

Between Jan. 29 and Feb. 11 1969, about 200 students occupied the ninth floor computer centre of then Sir George Williams University to protest the administration’s mishandling of racism complaints. In nearly all media coverage of the occupation and its aftermath, you’ll read about the $2 million of damage and a mysterious fire, which was all blamed on the students. But you’ll have to do a bit of digging before you come across any information about the nine months these students spent trying to get various professors, student representatives and the administration to legitimately consider their complaints.

Blackout: the Concordia Computer Riots interweaves the coming together of six students who only wanted to be graded justly, the administration’s inexcusable negligence towards their complaints, and how a simple bureaucratic request revealed multiple layers of systemic prejudice. “Whenever there is a question of authority, everyone is involved, and the response [to that scrutiny] can reveal a lot about their motives,” said Tamara Brown, assistant director and part of the writing unit. “An adequate response would have been, ‘Let’s examine this fairly,’ but that didn’t happen, which says a lot.”

About 14 months ago Mathieu Murphy-Perron, owner of the production company Tableau D’Hote Theatre, gathered a handful of talented artists and performers to begin researching and writing what became Blackout. Through the perfect marriage of music, spoken word and creative lighting, Blackout creates a critically immersive, yet unapologetically political view of one of the largest student occupations in Canadian history.

The performing cast of Blackout came out for a second time to bow in front of a standing ovation on opening night. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

The initial six students—played by Briauna James, Gita Miller, Shauna Thompson, Kym Dominique-Ferguson, Michelle Rambharose, and Sophie-Thérèse Stone-Richards—are all introduced while sitting together, sharing stories of frustration over the grades they’re receiving in a biology class.

Exploring the months that led up to the occupation is extremely important, considering that most media coverage downplays the more than a dozen complaints against this one biology professor. As their frustration grows, the six students ask their white friend, played by Lucinda Davis, to swap papers with one of them, played by Thompson, to see if the grades changed. Davis received a 90 on her paper, while Thompson received a 68, and this process was repeated with about six different students, garnering the same result each time.

Blackout shines a light on the story’s details, such as those mentioned above, that are predominantly left out of any mainstream coverage of the protest. What makes Blackout particularly unique is the interaction between the audience and performers in real time. By switching from dark, artistic lighting to completely illuminating the stage, the cast breaks the fourth wall throughout the play, occasionally speaking directly to the audience and asking them to further critically engage with the information they’ve presented.

“Can we take a moment to talk about this fire?” said Davis to the audience. “The fact that, even now, 50 years later, history would have it that it was the students who started it?” A mixture of approval-snapping and mhmm’s rose from the audience in response. “Yeah, that is some serious retcon-ing [retroactive continuity] shit right there,” said Dakota Jamal Wellman, one of the performers. The pair go on to logically unpack the students’ precarious situation of being barricaded inside the location where the fire was started, asking the rhetorical question of why anyone would start a fire in a place they cannot escape efficiently. Wellman continues by telling the audience how students had to use an axe to chop down a door in order to escape the flames; a door that was locked from the outside. “And they would have you believe that it was the students who started a motherfucking fire?” said Davis.

The seamless oscillation between engaging the audience as performers and as the students they played allows viewers to both humanize the students and their experiences, while also reminding audiences that they will never truly understand the alienation the students must have felt. While now, the protest is largely praised for resisting top-down power dynamics, at the time, “[the students] didn’t have support from the population, or from the media or from society,” said Lydia Dubuisson, part of the writing unit for Blackout. The politically charged play raises many important questions: whose side of history are you on? Why did it take so much to ask for so little? Why was property valued over humanity? After almost two hours of highlighting how much history was rebranded by the university’s administration, attendees leave already knowing the answer to these questions.

About 14 months after the protests-turned-riot, the very theatre Blackout performed in was named after the university’s president throughout the occupation: D.B. Clarke. In 1974, only 5 years after the occupation, Sir George Williams University and Loyola College merged to become Concordia University.

Blackout will have shows every evening until Feb. 9th at 8 p.m. with the final show at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 10th.

Feature photo by Alex Hutchins

Student Life

Lest We Forget

Reflecting on the effect WWII had on one family

In 1918, Nov. 11 marked the day the Allies and Germany signed the armistice that ended World War I (WWI), supposedly around 11 a.m. Now known as Remembrance Day, Nov. 11 is a day to remember the sacrifices made by those in the line of duty, the lives lost during times of war and lives still being lost today. It’s a dark memorial day for many, and each person’s familial ties with both WWI and World War II (WWII) will invariably differ. However, the act of remembering those enlisted, albeit willingly or not, who have lost their lives to political conflicts is an act of respect we should all put our personal politics aside for.

Throughout my childhood, Remembrance Day was a day where I’d proudly watch my grandpa, Ryzard Guziak, address his fellow veterans at his branch of The Royal Canadian Legion in Toronto. Dressed to the nines in full uniform, adorned with pins and ribbons, him and his lifelong friends would oscillate between warmly reminiscing their youth and sadly remembering their fallen friends who were denied life beyond adolescence.

Nov. 11 is a day of remembering Ryzard’s sacrifices throughout WWII; about remembering my other grandpa, Roger Hutchins, and his decision to join the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve in 1943, and the sacrifices that entailed. It should be noted, though, that Ryzard and Roger’s war stories are vastly different. Roger willingly joined the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve and remained stationed in Canada until the war ended, before eventually transferring to the Fleet Air Arm by 1950. Ryzard’s story, however, is much more complex. Since both of them have passed away, all I have are my memories.

Remembrance Day is one where I remember the decisions they made for freedom; for the freedom of future generations. I think of my sisters and I—of my niece, Stella, who neither of my grandpas got the chance to meet—and of the privilege we all had of growing up in stable conditions. I think of the freedom we have in our everyday lives; the freedom to mobilize and express our thoughts. Nov. 11 is a day where I remember Roger and Ryzard’s lives—how WWII adversely affected them, both on and off the battlefields—and what theirs, and so many other sacrifices, mean to the liberties we’re accustomed to.

Ryzard Guziak, my mother’s father, was born in Krynki, Poland in 1923, and raised in Bródno, a town in the northeast section of the Warsaw borough. My great-grandfather, Karol Guziak, was chief of detectives in Bródno, according to my grandma, Evelyn Guziak. When WWII was declared in 1939, the Germans immediately invaded Poland due to the proximity of their borders. “The Nazis just walked in and took over everything,” said Evelyn. Karol, Ryzard, and his mother were caught by Nazis at the Polish border while trying to flee to Lithuania. Nazis took Karol away and imprisoned him somewhere in Poland. Ryzard and his mother never saw Karol again; it’s assumed he was killed while imprisoned.

Ryzard was 16 at the time, temporarily living with his mother under Nazi occupation. However, their house was seized by Nazis, their valuables taken from them and, eventually, my grandfather too. According to Evelyn, in 1940, the Nazis came for Ryzard and many other young men in the middle of the night and, within hours, he was forcibly put on a train headed for Siberia. For the next few years, Ryzard worked in extremely poor conditions in the Russian salt mines, while tensions grew between the Nazis and Russians. By 1942, Russia was knee-deep in combat against the Nazis, and released most of their prisoners working in the mines, Ryzard included.

With absolutely nothing, not even proper clothes to weather the harsh temperatures in Russia, Ryzard jumped from train to train in hopes of finding a Polish recruitment centre he’d heard rumours of somewhere deep in Russia. After eventually finding the recruitment centre, around 1943, Ryzard made his way by train from Russia to Egypt to join the The Polish II Corps. But when Ryzard arrived, already incredibly ill from malnourishment, he contracted a skin disease from a dirty razor, causing his health to decline even further.

After barely recovering, Ryzard joined The Polish II Corps to fight against the Nazis, mostly through Italy. He lost many of his close friends in the Battle of Monte Cassino in 1944. “It wasn’t a fun time,” said Evelyn. “He never told me the dark stories. He would always try to make a joke of it. That’s the only way they could deal with it.”

Evelyn recalled a story Ryzard once told her, which likely occurred during the Battle of Monte Cassino. He and his platoon partner were on patrol somewhere in central Italy, and took a break to go to the bathroom in the woods. Only a few feet from Ryzard, his friend stepped on a landmine. “I’m sure [Ryzard] got splattered,” said Evelyn with a shudder. Luckily, Ryzard came out of the Battle relatively unscathed, except for a knick on his chin from a sniper that barely missed him.

WWII ended while Ryzard was still stationed in Italy, and since Poland had become communist throughout the war, he and his friends decided to stay in Modena for the time being. By the end of 1945, Ryzard’s station was moved to Britain, and eventually to Glasgow, Scotland, where he met my grandmother. At the time, Evelyn’s maiden name was McElroy. My grandparents met in a dance club called The Locarno, where they ballroom-danced the night away. Within six months, they were married. By 1952, they immigrated to Canada together, first docking in Montreal but eventually choosing Toronto as their final destination. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Feature image archive photo courtesy of the Guziak and Hutchins family.

Student Life

Ashura beyond the screen

Teaching selflessness with the story of Husayn (a.s) and Ahl al-Bayt

One of the things I remember most about growing up in an Islamic school was the Ashura sermons given at the local Mosque in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil. Men and women would listen to the story of the Muharram for ten days, every year. I was about ten years old when I went up to listen to the sermons instead of staying downstairs with the other children. My Arabic wasn’t very strong, so a friend translated to English the whole time.
That was the first time I cried over Imam Husayn (a.s) and Ahl al-Bayt, the family of the prophet. To this day, the Shia community, along with some Sunnis and Sophists, remember the death of Husayn (a.s) and the lessons of those ten days by mourning the tragic events. The Mourning of Muharram, a ten-day period, begins in the first month of the Islamic Calendar and varies in length depending on the lunar calendar.
For years, media outlets have horribly portrayed Ashura. What’s mostly shared in news coverage is self-flagellation, which was historically done so people could feel the smallest bit of Husayn’s pain and suffering. The Muslim community doesn’t condone this practice anymore; it is completely prohibited. However, all attempts at getting the meaning behind Ashura across and sharing the full story of Husayn (a.s) and his family have been distorted or called out for biased representation.
I am not particularly religious and, in all honesty, it took some time to stop hating those ten days because the violence that was propagated, at times, was difficult to look past. It is not a true and honest representation of Ashura.

“[Ashura] makes you read history through eyes of humanity,” said Sheikh Ali Sbeiti, head sheikh in the Centre Communautaire Musulman de Montréal (CCMM).
In the year 61 of Al-Hijra of the Lunar Islamic Calendar, AD 680, the Battle of Muharram took place in Karbala, Iraq. This battle was between a small group of supporters and the family of the prophet Muhammad—mainly followers of his grandson, Husayn ibn Ali—and a separated larger military group led by Yazid I, leader of the Umayyad Caliphate. This battle lasted one day, and is called the 10th of Muharram, or Ashura.
In the days leading up to this, Husayn (a.s)’s camp was surrounded, and Yazid’s military had blocked their access to the Euphrates, leaving the men, women and children without water for ten days. Husayn (a.s)’s six-month-old son was killed while he held him.
The night of the 9th day, Husayn (a.s) told his men they had the choice to leave in the darkness of the night rather than face certain death the next morning, when battle came. None of them left. Husayn Ibn Ali’s companions consisted of 32 horsemen and 40 infantrymen. The battle was over by the afternoon, with Husayn (a.s) left alone between enemies. He was executed in prayer.
The Umayyad then took the heads of the dead, and the women and children as prisoners in their walk from Karbala to Damascus. They were held hostage for a year, many dying of the conditions and of grief. Sukayna bint Husayn, Husayn (a.s)’s daughter, was one of the first to die of grief after she saw her father’s severed head.
A lot of people wonder why, 1,400 years later, Ahl al-Bayt are still mourned. Sheikh Ali Sbeiti recalled a saying from the prophet: “If you want to thank me, show respect and love for my family.” From a religious perspective, it’s as simple as that: you remember to keep the respect and love for the family of the prophet alive today.
My ten-year-old self didn’t know what Sunni, Shia, Christian, Jew, or whatever, meant. All I knew was that there was a family that was hated—oppressed because of different beliefs and views—and the leader of that family had stayed to fight that oppression. That alone should be reason enough for this story to be relevant today. We continue to fight many types of oppression such as ethnic, gender, geographical, and more.
“Such personalities don’t belong to Shia’s only,” said Sheikh Ali. “They belong to human value.”
This past Muharram, a woman on Twitter complained about a picture that depicted a child dressed in black wearing a headband that said ‘Husayn’. “Child abuse,” she tweeted. “For the sake of proving a sectarian point. Of course there will be extremism if from this age you throw at them extreme sectarianism.” As long as the story of Husayn (a.s) and his family is told in a considerate and calm way, there is nothing abusive about teaching children this story. The CCMM, for example, shares this story without the gruesome details.
Husayn (a.s)’s brother, Abbas Ibn Ali, went into enemy territory to bring back water to the camp because Husayn (a.s)’s daughter was thirsty. He did not drink any water in solidarity with his family, despite being parched. Those details are what should be taught to children: sacrifice, compassion and selflessness.
Chams Jaber, head organizer of the CCMM, said the centre focuses on activities that are engaging and educational to share the lessons of Husayn (a.s). “We learn about patience, and having no fear against oppression,” said Jaber. They hold activities such as the recreation of the battle as an art piece, where all the kids add to it while being told the story, she explained.
There are traits that historical figures pass along, and sometimes they happen to be timeless. Husayn’s teachings are relevant today, and Ashura is meant to honour that. There really isn’t much else people need to take from this.

Writer’s note: the (a.s) after Husayn (a.s) means ‘peace be upon him’ and is a gesture of respect.

Feature graphic by @spooky_soda


Twenty-five years later: What have we learned?

On Dec. 6, we remember the 14 women who died during the Montreal massacre

Fourteen beams erupted from the skyline of the city, each light symbolizing the 14 lives lost during a senseless rampage at École Polytechnique on Dec. 6, 1989.

Mourners and those paying their respect came out to the numerous events held across Montreal to remember the quarter century since the massacre, where a gunman murdered 14 women and injured another 14 before taking his own life.

Many private commemorations, as well as public ones in places like the Outremont Theatre and the Olympic stadium, were held today. But the highlight was held after the morning vigils and marches in the chalet atop Mount Royal. The commemoration, entitled “25 ans plus tard: Se souvenir pour elles”, hosted by la Fédération des femmes du Québec, started with speeches between 2 p.m. to 2:45  p.m. on the corner of Decelles Ave. and Queen-Mary Rd. A silent walk with candles then took place, passing through the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery, and ended at the Mount-Royal Chalet. Attended by Mayor Denis Coderre, Premier Philippe Couillard, and former Prime Minister Kim Campbell, the room held dignitaries, survivors, and rememberers from all walks of life joined as they closed ranks law in a display of grief and introspection.

Each spoke of their own recollections and on how far we’ve come as a society, how far we have yet to go, and of the importance of solidarity. The room, packed, could only hold so many. Outside, a live broadcast projected it to crowds and to homes. The pain and the occasional tears mirrored what went on inside.

The ceremony paid homage to not only the women who died that night but the police officers and paramedics who were confronted with the collateral of misogynistic hate, and all those who were marked by one man’s actions.

“It was horrible,” said Jacynthe Bosse, who was a CEGEP student on the eve of heading to university when the shootings occurred and came to the memorial plaque to pay her respect and went atop the mountain. “It was terrifying, knowing it could have been me.”

When asked whether the killer’s name should be remembered, she shook her head and said no.

“What he did, yes, and why he did it. But not who he was. Not his name. This is a day for the women.”

“Twenty-five years already. For some, half a lifetime. For others, the beginning. For history, a turning point,” said Sylvie Haviernick in French, sister of one of the victims, who perhaps said it best in quoting a nurse on duty that very night: “‘If you knew how we ran, how hard we worked to stop it at fourteen. We were so scared to lose more. Next time, we’ll be ready.’”

Let us hope that we will be ready, but that we will never be tested.





Exit mobile version