Ms Blakeman: Thanks very much. Mr. Speaker, 25 years ago this Saturday, December 6, 1989, a man who hated women walked into the classrooms at l’école Polytechnique in Montreal, separated the men from the women on different sides of the room, and started shooting. He killed 14 women that day. He killed 14 women because he had not been accepted into the engineeringschool and believed it was the fault of feminists.
I am a feminist. I was 31 at the time and working for the Alberta Advisory Council on Women’s Issues. This event shaped my life and the lives of many of my peers, especially women working in sectors assisting women. For the first time it was made clear to us that being a feminist, working in the areas of women’s issues, or even being a student in a nontraditional school program was enough to get you killed. It terrified our parents, lovers, and friends.
Stevie Cameron wrote a stunning piece in the Globe and Mail entitled Our Daughters, Ourselves. I recommend it. Because none of these students or staff were activists, it makes me take my work even more seriously. This is why I am so fierce, why I get up after being knocked down over and over and over again and after I’ve been heckled and denied. It’s because of the Montreal massacre. If I was going to get yelled at, injured, or shot, it would happen while I and my colleagues were building a Canada less likely to produce another man killing women – to make Canada stronger, more inclusive, tolerant, with women more secure in their capacity to earn money, have better access to advanced education and quality child care for their kids, to become the boss, to reduce the barriers that were systematic in the legal and justice systems, to eliminate abuse, poverty, inequality, or discrimination of any kind.
A year later I convened a committee of terrific women, who would produce for many years the annual event to commemorate the Montreal massacre, later made National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women. These same women joined me today to mark this life-changing event.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.