It was an event that was so enormous and so unique that is brought out in women all the little daily acts of violence, a violence that goes on from a time to time they're very little 'til the time they're grown up. We don't talk about it because it is too small, because that's the way life is. It opened the door on every woman's little sadnesses. I think the event touched on all the sadness and rage they have always carried around inside like a memory. For women, it 's something they've always known but maybe in day-to-day life they don't always want to see. And it exploded.
Sylvie Gagnon, survivor of the Montreal Massacre: When I was a little girl growing up I was taught the rules of conduct for a woman. Be always on your guard. Dress modestly. Don't give the wrong message. Don't go out alone at night. That is the way life is.
I observed the code. When I was 12, I was sexually assaulted by a stranger at EXPO '67. When I was 24, I was sexually assaulted by a steward on a ferry en route to Greece. The same year I was sexually assaulted while sleeping on a train in India. There are many other incidents too small to mention.
I am educated white, in some respects priveliged, assertive woman. I still got assaulted. I was assaulted because I am woman. I was merely "a woman" to each of the strangers who assaulted or harassed me.
The 14 victims of Marc Lepine were murdered because they were women. It is here that my life intersects with the lives of the students at l'Ecole Polytechnique. It is at this intersection that women can say, out of the truth of our lived experience, that the massacre at Polytechnique was not "the isolated act of a madman". We need only recall our lives.
Every year on December 6 we gather in groups across this nation to help each other remember.
We gather to insist on the right of women to live their lives without fear. We gather to insist on men taking responsibility, individually and collectively, for behaviour that is insulting, degrading, threatening or abusive to women. We gather as an act of resistance, because we refuse to surrender to the inevitability of male violence towards women, and because we believe there is a better way for all of us to live.
Please join the Women's Centre for a vigil planning meeting to be held on Mon. November 16th from 1:30 - 2:30 pm in the Student Union Board Room ( rm 226 University Centre). All interested individuals and groups are invited to share with us. Please contact Tammy Wagner at 584-1255 for more information.