Debates of the Senate  
  1st Session, 39th Parliament,Volume 143, Issue 55.
    Wednesday, November 29, 2006
National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

Seventeenth Anniversary of Tragedy at l'École Polytechnique

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

The Parliament of Canada established this day in 1991 to commemorate the 14 young women who were fatally shot by a man using a semi-automatic rifle on December 6, 1989, at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal. Each victim was targeted not just because she was a woman but also because she was an engineering student.

Honourable senators, I remember December 6, 1989, vividly because, for the first time in my life I felt that simply because I was a scientist, I might become a target of violence.

Honourable senators, as you know, it is a sad reality that women in Canada are subjected to acts of violence. For instance, women are three times more likely than men to be subjected to injury by their spouse. Honourable senators, on December 6, 1989, it became clear how much hatred one young man felt towards feminists and women who wanted to be engineers.

Fortunately, Canada took the l'École Polytechnique de Montréal tragedy seriously. Existing programs were expanded and new programs were developed which have increased the numbers of girls and women who study science and engineering at post-secondary education institutions. However, there are still few women in the various faculties of science and engineering across the country, and it is imperative that the Government of Canada continue to support programs that ensure that women are hired into faculty positions as predominantly male faculty members retire over the next few years.

Honourable senators, in conclusion, let us remember and honour the 14 young women who dared, nearly 20 years ago, to break with tradition by wanting to be female engineers.

They were: Geneviève Bergeron, Hèléne Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Maria Klucznik, Maryse Leclair, Annie St-Arneault, Michèle Richard, Maryse Laganière, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier and Annie Turcotte.