A memorial bench outside SFU’s Applied Sciences Building commemorates the tragic events of Dec. 6, 1989.

Community notices

SFU reflects on the tragic events of December 6th, 1989

December 02, 2020

Please note: this article deals with content matter that includes gun violence and violence against women.

Every year on Dec. 6, SFU faculty, staff and students gather around one particular bench outside SFU’s Applied Sciences Building. Holding roses and signs, they pause for a moment of silence.

This bench is inscribed with the names of 14 women, all of whom were killed on Dec. 6, 1989 when a man who claimed to be “fighting feminism” carried out a tragic mass shooting at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal. Shortly after, Dec. 6 was declared the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women.

Every year since then, SFU has held a vigil on Dec. 6 to honour the memories of Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, and the countless individuals who have lost their lives due to gender-based violence.

On the twentieth anniversary of the shooting, thanks to contributions from Women in Engineering, the Faculty of Applied Sciences and the School of Engineering Science, SFU unveiled its memorial bench for the students who lost their lives on Dec. 6. Alongside the bench, 14 dogwood trees were planted in a small grove.

Although this year’s vigil cannot occur in person, we invite faculty, staff and students to hold their own moment of silence and reflect on what Dec. 6 means to them. Additionally, the SFU community is encouraged to attend a virtual memorial occurring on Dec. 4.

Community Reflections

“Fourteen brave women lost their lives on Dec. 6 while fighting for their right to pursue an education in applied sciences. It brought awareness to the fact that education should be for everyone, and that the fight for equality in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) comes at a price. Everyone deserves the opportunity to learn without discrimination and gender bias affecting their chosen field of study.” – Anna Tang, computing science student

“We invite the SFU community to join us for our vigil on Dec. 4, and we also recommend the community takes time to reflect on the status of women on campus, in Canada and worldwide. Acknowledging the harms of everyday misogyny and the tendency of violence against women is the first step toward empowering them. We need to continuously support and advocate for women to have the ability to participate fully in our society, but we must also raise boys and educate men to do their part towards gender justice.” - Athena Guertin, coordinator, SFSS Women's Centre

“I was a high school student 31 years ago when a lone gunman walked into l’Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal and murdered 14 women. I remember standing in front of the TV watching the news coverage alone in my parent’s basement. It rocked me to my core and was one of the sparks that drove me to work in the anti-violence field. Dec. 6 continues to be a day of significance in Canada and at SFU because gender-based violence continues. We remember those impacted and those who have been murdered, and we as a community have to collectively work together to make change. We remember and we act to end gender- based violence.” – CJ Rowe, director, SFU Sexual Violence Support and Prevention Office

“We mark Dec. 6 to remember the lives of 14 young women taken in violence and hate. Let us also remember that violence against women remains prevalent in our communities, and particularly so for women with disabilities, Indigenous, racialized and trans women. We must examine the systems and biases that permit this violence to continue and actively search for ways to make communities safe for all.” – Joy Johnson, president and vice-chancellor

To commemorate the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women, SFU community members are invited to attend a virtual memorial on Dec. 4. You’re also invited to use a custom Zoom background from Nov. 30 to Dec. 6 to raise awareness about gender-based violence.