This year marks 30 years since the tragic events on December 6, 1989, when 13 female students and a female administrator at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal were killed by a gunman who entered the school and targeted female students taking engineering classes.
“As we reflect on the horrific events at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal, and remember the 14 women who lost their lives on this day, it saddens me that violence is still a daily reality for women and girls around the world,” said Ann English, P.Eng., FEC, FCSSE, CEO and Registrar of Engineers and Geoscientists BC.
“On the 30th anniversary, we take time to remember these women and reflect on our commitment to fostering a culture of respect and inclusion in our communities, workplaces, classrooms, and the wider engineering profession,” she said.
L’Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal awards the Order of the White Rose Scholarship, which was created as a tribute to the victims. It is awarded annually to a Canadian woman engineering student continuing her engineering studies at the graduate level in Canada or elsewhere. To honour the victims, Engineers and Geoscientists BC has made a donation to the Fondation et Alumni de Polytechnique Montréal.
In Canada, December 6 now marks the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. As the regulatory body for engineering and geoscience in BC, we encourage members and licensees to honour the memory of the victims, and to recognize the value that diversity brings to work environments, the professions, and our society.
“We need to continue the conversation about the importance of diversity and inclusion,” said Lianna Mah, P.Eng., FEC, president of Engineers and Geoscientists BC. “A diverse and inclusive workplace, team, or corporate board that includes people from a wide range of backgrounds and with a variety of skills and experience spawns creativity and out-of-the-box thinking that results in better outcomes and stronger organizations,” she said.
Ways to Get Involved
Engineers and Geoscientists BC’s Women in Engineering and Geoscience Division is initiating a moment of silence on December 6 to acknowledge this incident. Members are encouraged to participate in this minute of reflection, to show respect to the young women who were killed, and all those who have worked hard to stand for equality and equity in engineering and geoscience.
The Government of Canada is encouraging everyone to take action and commit to end gender-based violence, now and throughout the year. To learn more, visit cfc-swc.gc.ca/commemoration/vaw-vff/remembrance-commemoration-en.html.
The University of British Columbia is holding a Beam of Light Ceremony at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts on Friday, December 6, 1:30 PM–3:00 PM. UBC is one of 14 universities participating in a 30th anniversary memorial event together with the École Polytechnique.
To mark the 30th anniversary, and at the same time, recognize Engineers Canada's 30 by 30 initiative, Michelle Mahovlich, Director of Engineering at the City of Langford, has established an endowment that provides an award for a young woman entering UVic Engineering every year in perpetuity.
Support the Week of the White Rose initiative by purchasing virtual white roses for colleagues and friends. The white rose has become a symbol of remembrance of the tragic events at l'École Polytechnique. All proceeds go to Folie Technique, Polytechnique’s science camp, whose aim is to give disadvantaged communities an opportunity to take part in science awareness activities. To learn more or to donate, visit roseblanche.org/en.
For more information on The Order of the White Rose Scholarship, visit www.polymtl.ca/ordreroseblanche/en.
Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash