Dawson College marked the eighth anniversary of the deadly 2006 shooting rampage on its downtown Montreal campus with the official launch of a new centre dedicated to peace and nonviolence education.

The Dawson Centre for Peace Education’s core offering is a Peace Studies Certificate that will be available to all students at the Montreal institution.

The centre’s coordinator, Julie Mooney, said the certificate will provide students with an applied education in violence prevention and conflict resolution.

“This really is a historic moment for Dawson College,” she said. “The certificate will allow students the opportunity to look at their [diploma studies] through the lense of peace and nonviolence.”

Mooney said 90 students are now enrolled for the program’s inaugural semester.

The program’s literature says it “aims to prepare students to work for justice and to prepare for peace in any context, whether in their personal or professional lives, their communities, in society, or on a global scale.”

Courses offered through the program focus on topics including women and war, ethics of food, the power of nonviolent communication, wilderness camping, and the role of alcohol in society.

Centre continues healing process

The centre is the latest Dawson initiative to respond to the Sept. 13, 2006, shootings on its campus by gunman Kimveer Gill.

Gill shot 20 people, killing 18-year-old student Anastasia De Sousa before he was wounded by police and committed suicide.

De Sousa’s mother, Louise De Sousa, said the centre will help tie her family even closer to the school.

“Dawson College and the De Souza family are united as one family. We help each other out. To promote peace over violence is something that’s very close to our hearts,” she told CBC News.