Montreal

Dawson College celebrates resilience on 10th anniversary of shooting

Ten years after a shooting at Montreal's Dawson College that claimed the life of one student, Anastasia De Sousa, and wounded 16 others, the school focused on the positive: the compassion and strength of its faculty and staff.

Mother calls for stronger gun control laws on anniversary of Anastasia De Sousa's death

The parents of Dawson College shooting victim Anastasia De Sousa, Louise and Nelson De Sousa look at her memorial tree after a ceremony on Tuesday. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Ten years after a shooting at Montreal's Dawson College that claimed the life of one student, Anastasia De Sousa, and wounded 16 others, the school focused on the positive: the compassion and strength of its faculty and staff.

The college marked the anniversary at its memorial Peace Garden, a space inaugurated on the fifth anniversary of the shooting.

This ability to recover and even draw strength from a sudden shock has driven this community.- Richard  Filion , Dawson director general

"We want to celebrate the resilience of our community," Richard Filion, the school's director general, said at Tuesday's ceremony.

"This ability to recover and even draw strength from a sudden shock has driven this community."

Calls for tighter gun restrictions

Charlie Brenchley was a student at Dawson in 2006. (CBC)

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre received cheers and strong applause from many in attendance when he called for tighter gun restrictions in the country.

Kimveer Gill, 25, used a semi-automatic rifle to shoot 72 rounds in and near Dawson on Sept. 13, 2006. 

Gill was eventually hit by a police bullet before killing himself with one of his own weapons.

Anastasia's mother, Louise Hevey De Sousa, said she was very happy Coderre talked about guns.

"This is something I'll ask all of you,'' she told reporters following the ceremony, minutes after she and other family members had released monarch butterflies into the air in her daughter's memory.

"Push our federal government,'' she said. "The media, you speak for us a lot. So you push the federal government to meet us, and let's have stronger gun control laws. Stronger for all Canadians. We just want security for Canadians. That's what I want."

Coming together

Jennifer De Vera attaches a ribbon to the memorial tree dedicated to Dawson College shooting victim Anastasia De Sousa. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Charlie Brenchley, a student at the time of the shooting who went on to become to president of Dawson's student union, also remembered "students coming together in the face of extreme adversity."

He recalled students, faculty and staff lining the street, waiting for the college's doors to reopen in the week after the shooting, to "reclaim what was ours and to take a united stance against the violence that had struck so close to home."

The event, which was open to the public, featured testimonies from former and current students, a musical number by a graduate, a special guest performance and throat singers.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement to commemorate the anniversary.

"Ten years ago, senseless acts of violence were committed at Dawson College in Montreal, when a shooter opened fire on innocent students, killing one young woman and injuring 16 other people,'' Trudeau said.

"Our thoughts are with the victims, their loved ones, and all those whose lives were forever changed that day."

More coverage:

Throat singers performed as part of the 10-year anniversary of the Dawson College shooting. (CBC)

With files from The Canadian Press