PEI

30th anniversary of Montreal Massacre marked by ceremonies on P.E.I.

Heads were bowed and candles were lit on Friday, as Islanders gathered to remember the victims of the Montreal Massacre. Commemorations of the lives lost were held in both Charlottetown and Summerside.

'It's really important because we're not in the clear, there's a lot of work to do'

A service in remembrance of the victims of the Montreal Massacre was held at the Summerside Presbyterian Church on Friday. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

Heads were bowed and candles were lit on Friday, as Islanders gathered to remember the victims of the Montreal Massacre.

Commemorations of the lives lost were held in both Charlottetown and Summerside.

On Dec. 6, 1989, a gunman walked into École Polytechnique in Montreal and killed 14 women. Most of those women were studying to be engineers. 

During the rampage, the man shouted, "You're all a bunch of feminists and I hate feminists!"

Friday marked the 30th anniversary of the attack, which has now been identified as an "anti-feminist attack." The attack remains the worst mass shooting in Canadian history.

While three decades have come and gone since the attack, not much seems to have changed as rates of domestic violence have remained consistent, said Danya O'Malley, executive director of P.E.I. Family Violence Prevention Services. 

While three decades have come and gone since the attack, not much seems to have changed as rates of domestic violence have remained consistent, says Danya O'Malley, executive director of P.E.I. Family Violence Prevention Services.  (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

But O'Malley said she's hopeful.

With an increased investment in the rehabilitation of perpetrators, she said, she's optimistic that change is ahead.

"I think absolutely there is a lot of potential with the point in time that we're at now, you know, where we're willing to invest in people and try to get people to to change their behaviours," she said. 

"You can walk beside, you know, 100 victims but if you never go to the source of the violence — you're not really going to change anything."

'It's really important because we're not in the clear, there's a lot of work to do,' says Nikkie Gallant, an Island singer-songwriter. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

'A lot of work to do'

Local singer-songwriter Nikkie Gallant performed at the service held at the Summerside Presbyterian Church. She said her own experience with domestic violence has informed a lot of her work. 

Gallant said it's as important as ever to set aside time to remember the victims of the massacre. 

"It's really important because we're not in the clear, there's a lot of work to do," she said. 

"There's still people living in these circumstances, there's still people who are going to live in these circumstances."

Amy Hsiao, an associate professor in the faculty of sustainable design engineering at UPEI, says the university's event on Friday aimed to highlight the importance of making space for everyone.  (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

Since 2014, each year on Dec. 6, 14 beams of light are projected into the Montreal sky in honour of the victims.

This year, UPEI's faculty of sustainable design engineering also took part as one of 14 partner engineering schools across the country to shine their own light beams in remembrance of the victims of gendered violence.

For Amy Hsiao, an associate professor in the faculty of sustainable design engineering at UPEI, the event's aim is to highlight the importance of making space for everyone. 

"Regardless of gender, of race, inclusion and diversity is really the message," Hsiao said. 

"And the real point now is everyone has a place in engineering, in underrepresented fields that doesn't have a lot of that."

More P.E.I. news

With files from Jessica Doria-Brown

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