Amelia Runchey was born in 1989, the year of the Montreal Massacre.
In her 26 years the Hamilton native, who is the coordinator of the University of Windsor women’s centre, has grown to appreciate the gravity of marking the day of Dec. 6 when 14 female engineering students were gunned down in cold blood at L’Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal.
“Today is an opportunity to remember and honour these women and also an opportunity to reflect and speak out against violence against women in all forms,” said Runchey, a student in women’s and gender studies.
“It’s very important to me and to students because it happened to students. It was a classroom that was targeted. It’s important for campuses to take this day, take some time to remember what happened 26 years ago.”
About 100 people gathered at the university’s memorial to the massacre, which features 14 obelisks — one for each of the victims.
Fourteen students stood in front of each of the monuments holding a rose and then recited a brief character sketch of each of the murdered women, followed by a French translation, before placing each rose in a grated centre section of each monument.
Anjanan Kashyap helped organize the memorial.
“I’m really pleased with the turnout here today,” said Kashyap. “Last year we had a lower turnout so I’m glad the word got out more. It’s a busy time, we’ve got exams on right now so I’m glad people took time away from their studies to commemorate this important day.”
Kashyap said the memorial is of particular importance to her.
“This is an issue that is very close to home because I am a victim of domestic violence and this is why I work on a lot of campaigns to eradicate violence against women,” said Kashyap.
“It’s not just to commemorate those 14 lives but all women who are victims of domestic violence. It’s hard for me to speak for all women, we’re all going to experience this in a different way.”
For the first time a 15th rose was laid at the memorial on behalf of Lori Dupont.
Dupont was murdered on Nov. 12, 2005, while on the job, by anesthetist Dr. Marc Daniel, a former boyfriend.
University of Windsor nursing professor Debbie Kane spoke on behalf of Dupont, who she didn’t know personally but felt a bond with.
“I think all nurses felt they knew Lori because of the tragedy that happened and when you’ve seen violence in health care, when you’ve seen any partner be attacked, you feel the need to honour that individual and that’s why the Essex chapter of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario got involved,” said Kane.
“It’s such a tragedy that 14 women were killed on Dec. 5. It’s a tragedy that women continue to be killed every day.”