Hundreds of people flocked to the top of Mount Royal Wednesday after dark to attend the annual memorial ceremony for the 14 women killed at École Polytechnique on Dec. 6, 1989, the worst mass shooting in Canadian history.

Mayor Valérie Plante, Dominique Anglade, Quebec's deputy premier, and the wife of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, helped mark the 28th anniversary of the women's deaths, as did survivors of the shooting and friends and family of the victims.

Plante said it's important to remember the women who died "because they were women."

École Polytechnique memorial at Mount Royal1:00

She said that work still needs to be done to ensure the city is safe for everyone, including women, children and people with disabilities.

"Though Montreal is a good place to live, as women, we always have this little voice wondering, 'Hmm, is it safe for me to walk in this area or to use public transport at this time?' These are issues that need to be addressed," Plante said.

Many at the memorial event, which took place in front of the chalet on Mount Royal, wore a white ribbon on their lapel, a global symbol of the campaign to end violence against women.

For the fourth year, 14 beams of light illuminated the Montreal skyline at 5 p.m., and remained on until 10 p.m. in honour of each of the victims:

  • Geneviève Bergeron, civil engineering student.
  • Hélène Colgan, mechanical engineering student.
  • Nathalie Croteau, mechanical engineering student.
  • Barbara Daigneault, mechanical engineering student.
  • Anne-Marie Edward, chemical engineering student.
  • Maud Haviernick, materials engineering student.
  • Maryse Laganière, budget clerk.
  • Maryse Leclair, materials engineering student.
  • Anne-Marie Lemay, mechanical engineering student.
  • Sonia Pelletier, mechanical engineering student.
  • Michèle Richard, materials engineering student.
  • Annie St-Arneault, mechanical engineering student.
  • Annie Turcotte, materials engineering student.
  • Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, nursing student.

National Day of Remembrance

The anniversary coincides with the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

In other cities in Canada, flags flew at half-mast in remembrance of the 14.

Overseas, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lit candles for the victims during his visit to China. 

polytechnique 2017

Fourteen lights shine toward the sky and people gathered during a ceremony on Mount Royal to mark the 25th anniversary of the Polytechnique massacre. (Radio-Canada)

Earlier in the day, members of the student community at École Polytechnique gathered around the plaque which commemorates the women outside the complex where the shooting happened.

Que Polytechnique Anniversary 20171206

Yann Blanchard, president of the student association, places a bouquet of white roses during a ceremony commemorating the 28th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

The 1989 massacre was a turning point in the history of gun control in Canada and the event that solidified Quebec's more restrictive attitude toward guns. 

Last week, a pro-gun lobby group in Quebec backed down from a plan to hold a rally at Place du 6-décembre-1989, a park near the entrance to Université de Montréal on Queen Mary Road at Decelles Avenue where the 14 women are commemorated.

The event organizer chose the location in order to spark controversy, saying that the killings at École Polytechnique, Canada's worst mass shooting, are unfairly used by gun control advocates.

The rally organizers moved their event to another location after being roundly condemned.