December 6th, 1988 was a typical day for me as a child, coming from my day at the daycare. Life seemed pretty good, fun, and peaceful.
But, this day was one of fear, anxiety, and deep sadness.
These negative emotions made an entrance in my life and I think, many Canadians, Quebecers and, especially Montrealers.
I was in preschool at that time, but I do remember exactly, coming home after this so-called “typical day” for my family and thousand of families. The face of my mom changed when she saw what was happening while watching the news. My brother was as quiet as my mom. For me, this silence was unusual.
The silence was soon followed by my phone ringing at home. The waves of shocks started.
I still didn’t understand why I was seeing the flashing red light of ambulances on tv or why I kept hearing the word “Polytechnique”. I asked my brother what washappening and he calmly explained to me that we didn’t know yet, but there had been a shooting.
That was my reaction. I was so scared. We were all so scared. The minutes passed and little by little, we learned the names of the victims. I realized early on, these were womens’ names. I heard “Maryse”, “Barbara”…. I was thinking “OMG, I don’t understand what is going on”.
Our world changed. I went to bed, crawling in with my mother to sleep. I didn’t want to lose my Mommy! She was (and still is) the most important woman in my life. I was thinking maybe a young girl,like me, wasn’t able to crawl into her mother’s arms that night.
With December 7th, 1989 came the realization that this wasn’t a bad dream. It was a reality that could never be wiped from our minds and souls. By then, we knew more about what happened. I seem to remember my brother telling me that life wouldn’t be easy for me as a girl or, later on, as a woman, but I had to keep fighting for my role in society and be invincible.
But while he told me those words of wisdom, like he always did, his eyes were scared. I never saw my big brother, my hero, that scared. He was so sad. He couldn’t understand what had happened. He was a smart 11-year old that was brought up to be respectful to women and to admire them for their accomplishments. He always made me feel I could be whatever I wanted, even if it required stepping inside a man’s world. But on December 7th, 1989 he seemed lost and scared.
I was a mix of a girly girl (Barbie, My Little Pony, singing Nathalie Simard songs and watching her tv show religiously) with a big dose of tomboy (wrestling matches with my brother, the hardcore way, playing soccer and hockey, and not being afraid of getting dirty with my beautiful dress on). Impossible means nothing was my moto.
When I learned what had happened to those fourteen women, twelve of which were studying engineering, breaking barriers by entering a male-dominated world. At the time, the words of wisdom from my brother the night before seemed unrealistic.
On December 6th, 1990, I made a promise to myself. My promise was to never forget what happened in 1989 and to truly believe a peaceful society was something that would be achievable one day. Violence is not the answer.
Those women, like many others before and after that tragedy, lost their lives in the most horrific way just because they were women.
This is a wake up call. Enough is enough.