MONTREAL—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined a subdued ceremony Sunday to mark the 26th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre where 14 women were shot to death at the Ecole Polytechnique.
Trudeau and a small crowd listened as the names of the victims were read aloud, silhouetted by 14 beacons of light projected into the night sky in memory of the victims.
Trudeau did not address the crowd, but said afterward the anniversary is not only a time to remember the events of the massacre, but also to make promises.
He said his personal pledge was `”to never forget, and to do everything I can to ensure that never again.”
Trudeau released a statement on the massacre Sunday restating the Liberal government’s promise to launch an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and to introduce legislation to provide greater support for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
“We all have an important role to play in stopping violence against women and girls, and in denouncing misogyny in all its forms,” the statement read. “Like all parents, I want my daughter to grow up in a safe community and a safe world.”
At a ceremony held earlier in the day in Montreal, white roses were laid on pillars in a park near the school to remember the victims.
As banners bearing the names of the victims fluttered in the wind, representatives of women’s and aboriginal rights groups reminded the public that women in Canada still face violence.
“In 2015, women are still victims of violence, just because they’re women,” event spokesperson Carole Benjamin said. “Violence against women is still happening, and we have to act individually and collectively to make it stop.”
Marc Lepine’s 20-minute shooting rampage at the Universite de Montreal’s engineering school in 1989 sparked a national gun-control debate that rages until this day.
Lepine took his own life following the carnage after ranting that feminists had spoiled his life.
Since the shootings, December 6 has become a national day of commemoration and a call for action on violence against women, with various events and vigils held across the country.