Yesterday, December 6 marked the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, to remember the 14 women who lost their lives in 1989 at the École Polytechnique.
The Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario supported and recognized these women with displays set up around the college. The displays were reminiscent of the military tradition of leaving an empty table at dinners for the Fallen Comrade.
For the displays, RMC took donations of blouses and other women’s shirts that will be placed at the table signifying the absence of these women. All the clothing will be donated to a local women’s shelter after the seven-day display.
Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Jordan, Director, Plans and Strategy of RMC says this tribute is extremely important from a post-secondary standpoint.
“As an educational institute, as a university, it’s important for us to stand shoulder to shoulder with other universities and their struggles and achievements. Certainly the massacre that happened in 1989 was a horrible thing.”
LCol Jordan started accepting donations for the display over the last month and has accumulated three 4×4 moving boxes for the local women’s shelter.
He says he’s been asked why this particular tragedy was chosen instead of other tragic events such as the murdered and missing indigenous women in B.C that is currently ongoing.
“This event actually happened in a university setting, and we are a university. It rings home for the environment. It helps to educate young Canadian men and women to be leaders out in society.”
Over the years RMC has accepted a variety of donations including women’s shoes in 2016. Last year, instead of taking donations RMC launched the “Where Were You” campaign, looking at the demographic of the staff at RMC and seeing where they were and what they were doing on December 6, 1989.
Currently, there are three separate displays at the college, each with 14 shirts representing the women that lost their lives.
“It reminds people that no matter what is going on in your life, sometimes bad things happen and you can’t stop them. You have to be able to recognize when people are having bad thoughts and when they are going down those bad roads, and blaming others.”
Erika Behrisch Elce, Ph.D. and Dean of Social Sciences at RMC, started this initiative in 2015 and to her knowledge, it is unsure if there were any organized acts of remembrance between 1989 and 2014.
“We have every intention of continuing the remembrance and awareness campaign annually.”
For more information about RMC and to view the displays visit their Facebook page.