30 years of polytechnic: light on a heavy feminicide

The Université de Sherbrooke joined Friday evening the 13 other institutions across the country that participated in commemorations in honor of the 14 victims of the feminicide of Polytechnique, which occurred 30 years ago. In Sherbrooke, the evening was not only an opportunity to denounce all forms of violence and discrimination against women, but also to celebrate successful paths in a world traditionally linked to the opposite sex.
More than 100 people gathered in front of the engineering faculty, hot chocolate and a lantern in hand, to attend a live broadcast of the ceremony held simultaneously in Montreal. While 14 light beams were lit one by one on Mount Royal in tribute to each of the victims, each collaborating university illuminated his. That of the UdeS accompanied the name of Anne-Marie Edward, a student in chemical engineering at the time.

“I was a student at the Université de Montréal at the time,” said Rector Pierre Cossette. This is a truly remarkable event. […] When we realized that it was women who had been murdered, it upset me, troubled. How can women be murdered because they are women? ”

Emphasizing the resilience of women and the road ahead, he continued his speech by calling for the prevention of hate actions, which are often initially in the form of words.


Open arms

“Indeed, today, there are still problems, shared Zohra Alaoui, who is a few weeks to receive his diploma. There is still misogyny, but we see a lot less. It is in some places more than others, for example, projects […] Inclusion and diversity are the two key elements of everything that happens today. What is important is that women feel comfortable doing what they want, and that men feel comfortable doing what they want as well. The goal is not really to force things, it is to welcome them with open arms. And if they are interested in engineering, they are welcome. ”

Ms. Alaoui was one of three women in the engineering community invited to share their thoughts on the events. Also speaking were Ève Langelier, professor and holder of the Research Chair for Women in Science and Engineering and the Researcher and Consultant in Adaptation to Climate Change, and Nathalie Beaulieu, a graduate of the UdeS at the Baccalaureate (1987) and Master’s degree (1990) in civil engineering and PhD in remote sensing in 1998.

Ms. Beaulieu was studying at the master’s level and had just given birth to her daughter when the drama occurred on December 6, 1989. “It affected me a lot,” she said. What got through was that we met together at the Faculty of Engineering the next day. We have nevertheless realized that studying in a non-traditional field is intrinsically feminist. ”

Happy engineers

“In 1996, the year we started having gendered data, there were about 20% of girls enrolled in the Bachelor of Engineering degree,” said Professor Langelier. Since then, the figures oscillate between 16 and 20%. On the roll of the order, we went from 4% to 15% today; it is the effect of generations. The number of women studying engineering has remained about the same over the years. But what’s important to know is that the women who have chosen to go into engineering are happy, “said the researcher on stage based on various studies, shortly after enthusiastically highlighting the great number of men in attendance.

Fourteen new balls on the tree

This year, the big tree of the Place des Moulins will also carry the history of the victims of the tragedy of Polytechnic on its branches. During a vigil organized Friday night in downtown Sherbrooke, 14 feminists engaged in the Eastern France emotionally hooked balls bearing the likeness of the 14 women who were killed on December 6, 1989.

The CALACS (Assault and Sexual Assault Center) assault Estrie took advantage of this gathering to nurture the hope of a society where women would not have “to live in fear of aggression sexual abuse “.

“The issue of sexual violence is part of a wider problem of violence against women,” said speaker Laurence Morin. This is a problem that stems directly from unequal gender relations throughout history in Quebec. ”

The more than fifty people present sang the song “A long time ago that we know,” which was specifically written for the occasion and which emphasizes the fate suffered by the women of Polytechnique as motivation to change the status of women.

The town hall had also lowered its flags at half-mast on Friday, in addition to having lit up with mauve.

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