The House

Personal reflections on the Polytechnique massacre, 30 years on

In the 30 years since a gunman killed 14 women in an act of violent misogyny at Montreal’s École Polytechnique, activists are still calling for stronger and swifter action on gun control.

Two women reflect on what has — and hasn't — changed in the wake of the tragedy

Beams of light reach skyward from a memorial installation on Mount Royal in Montreal Friday - one beam for each of the 14 women killed at École Polytechnique 30 years ago. (CBC News)

In the 30 years since a gunman killed 14 women in an act of violent misogyny at Montreal's École Polytechnique, activists are still calling for stronger and swifter action when it comes to gun control.

But a ban on military-style assault weapons — a key part of the Liberal government's plan for its second mandate —  is something that could soon be realized, said Heidi Rathjen, a survivor of the massacre and a champion for tougher gun control measures.

"It feels like we've evolved as much in five years since the 25th anniversary than we had over [the past] 25 years," Rathjen told CBC Radio's The House.

There's no clear timetable to ban the weapons, but the Liberals have been firm on fulfilling their commitment to do so, and to develop a plan to confront gender-based violence.

Loreen Pindera, a CBC journalist who covered the massacre as a rookie reporter in 1989, said she also feels optimistic.

"Quebec is pretty much on board on the gun control issue. And that's a society I've been living in for 30 years now," Pindera said. "I can't help but think that if this event could radically change people's thinking around gun control, that it's going to spread."


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