This essay was mostly written yesterday, on the anniversary of the Ecole Polytechnique Massacre that occurred in Montreal in 1989. It was modified and expanded today.
The thing I remember the most about 27 years ago today is being confused about why I was seeing my sister on TV.
She was in CEGEP at the time, and they were showing young women in colleges near where the 24 women and four men were gunned down. 14 women didn’t survive.
I remember my mom holding me to her hip, tightly. I get that now.
For twenty-seven years the message has been to keep the victims’ memories at the forefront. That their bravery and conviction should be what’s remembered. It is important to remember the individuals injured and murdered. It is not long enough to heal those wounds.
Part of healing is being told not to make it about him. Don’t say his name. Don’t give him the satisfaction of infamy. Remember their light, not his shadow.
But we can’t have one without the other.
Tonight, for the first time, I read Marc Lepine’s suicide note.
There’s a dull, cynical, thudding pain of recognition. It is not different from what gets written and thrown at women every day online, at workplaces, in schools and gyms and churches and courthouses, by men and women, young and old.
The worst part is that women continue to be beaten, raped, murdered, sent to prison, kidnapped, bought and sold like property.
We don’t know where our missing and murdered indigenous women and girls are.
Or maybe I mean we all know where they are. Like the fourteen women who died on Mount Royal that afternoon twenty-seven years ago, they are present right here, right now.
They are in every hallway, every backseat, every bus stop, every supermarket, they are here: waiting. Waiting for their silence to become loud enough for us to hear it. Waiting for enough of us to finally start listening, and to act. Ring the alarms. Fill the chasm of their quiet.
They are here in those of us who are bound to join their ranks.
We are in trouble.
We are all in trouble because even though twenty-seven years ago is more than a lifetime away for many people, the sickness of Marc Lepine’s ideas continues.
What’s striking today is not the deplorable, hateful content of the note itself, it is the damned, casual, familiarity of the message. It continues. It has. Never. Stopped.
So keep fighting. Keep remembering, and mourning, and listening, but also keep fighting.