you have only
taking a picture
and looking at the
image and staring
in the mirror and
looking at your
you don’t get to see
the way your eyes
light up when you talk
and you can never
see how beautiful
you look when you
it’s really is kinda
sad that never
actually seen yourself
but I can promise you
I will be here everyday
to tell you what i seeR’J
It is December 6th, and I remember.
I was 13 years old when Marc Lépine opened fire and murdered 14 women for being at engineering school when he wasn’t. He blamed feminism for the situation he was in, and murdered these women for being in non-traditional jobs, for being there.
Every year, the memorials I go to are different. Some are quiet - I remember several winters in the snow, holding candles and reciting names like a talisman against violence.
Geneviève Bergeron, 21 years old. Hélène Colgan, 24 years old. Nathalie Croteau, 24 years old.
When I was younger, they seemed impossibly mature and sophisticated. I used to imagine them laughing and enjoying university, cut down without warning. Now that I’m 35, they seem so young, and I wonder if they were afraid.
Barbara Daigneault, 23 years old. Anne-Marie Edward, 22 years old. Maud Haviernick, 29 years old.
For the past several years in Halifax I’ve tried to go to the Not So Silent Night vigil. One year it was held near the cenotaph, another year at the public library. There is less recitation of names, and more screaming. There’s less focusing on this incident, this moment, and more discussion of the number of women every year who are murdered, who disappear, who can’t get away and now never will.
Maryse Laganière, 29 years old. Maryse Leclair, 24 years old. Anne-Marie Lemay, 23 years old.
Every year, there are people who roll their eyes and tell everyone to get over it. Last year a clever person at Dal compared the yearly observance to people who are still upset about the expulsion of the Acadians in 1758. Back in 1998, Vancouver changed their city ordinances to avoid making memorials that might “purposely create antagonism or cause distress” in direct response to the memorial for this massacre and the campaign to have a memorial to AIDS victims put up in the city.
Sonia Pelletier, 28 years old. Michèle Richard, 22 years old. Annie St-Arneault, 24 years old.
But I can’t deny that this memorial always leaves me disquieted. We go silent for a night, or we scream for a night, we rage against the dying of the light. But 582 aboriginal women are missing or murdered, and we don’t remember them the way we do these 14. We have a barely-acknowledged Trans Day of Remembrance. We don’t talk about sex workers murdered whose deaths are so unimportant that serial killers can operate with impunity until they start on “real” women. If we started naming girls murdered by parents, women with disabilities murdered by caregivers, how long would our yearly remembrance be?
Annie Turcotte, 23 years old. Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, 31 years old.
I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know. We name these 14, silently or quietly or screaming their names to heaven, because we can’t name the others. Because there is enough controversy around this day, this naming of 14 women who were undoubtedly killed for being women, and we can’t imagine the controversy in naming them all, acknowledging that some women are targeted because they are vulnerable, because they matter less, because they are hated beyond belief, because there will always be someone who tells me that women who don’t want to be abused shouldn’t be sex workers, shouldn’t be “liars”, shouldn’t be in relationships, should just leave.
I forget this date is coming every year, and suddenly it’s here, and I remember, I remember, I remember.
I decided that this piece needed to be quoted more extensively, because it is so, so on point.
The massacre occurred 24 years ago today, on December 6, 1989.