Janusz Koziński, Dean of Engineering at Lakehead University has issued the following statement:
Today is December 6, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
This is a day that is seared into the memory of all Canadians. 34 years ago, 14 women were murdered at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal. They died because they were women. The lives of 12 engineering students, one nursing student and one university employee were brutally cut short in an attack motivated by misogyny and anti-feminism. Another 10 women and four men were also injured in the tragedy, and still live with the physical and psychological scars to this day.
This is a painful and sorrowful day for all Canadians, and in particular everyone associated with engineering education and the engineering profession. This act of gender-based violence must never be forgotten, and today we remember all those who perished and all those who still suffer.
As the name of today suggests, we must also re-dedicate ourselves to meaningful action on eliminating the sexism, inequity and discrimination that still pervade our society – including our own community. We must not be complacent nor ignorant of the challenges faced by women every day.
We still live in a world where 1 in 3 women will experience physical or sexual violence across their lifetime. Only this year, here in Canada, a gender studies class at the University of Waterloo was the target of an attack that is believed to have been motivated by hate.
We need to address the systemic barriers and inequities that persist in engineering education and the profession. While the solutions won’t happen overnight and are not simple, we cannot use that as an excuse for inaction or to delay tackling the injustices that we know exist.
We need to reaffirm our commitment to making engineering education, including our own Faculty of Engineering, a place where women feel safe, valued, and recognized. That means increasing the representation of women at every level, including our student body and among our faculty members. It means being willing to safely confront sexism wherever we see it, whether that’s an inappropriate comment or where we witness someone belittled, ignored, or disrespected. And it also means men, who still make up the sizeable majority of those in engineering education, being willing to reflect on their own behaviors and biases to ensure they are part of the solution, not the contributing to the problem.
I encourage you to take a look at all the resources available as part of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women and the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence campaign to learn more about the issues and what you can do to make a positive difference.
Finally, let us all remember the names of those we lost 34 years ago that will never be forgotten and in whose memory we seek to prevent more victims of gender-based violence and discrimination:
- Geneviève Bergeron (21 years old) – Mechanical Engineering student
- Hélène Colgan (23 years old) – Mechanical Engineering student
- Nathalie Croteau (23 years old) – Mechanical Engineering student
- Barbara Daigneault (22 years old) – Mechanical Engineering student
- Anne-Marie Edward (21 years old) – Chemical Engineering student
- Maud Haviernick (29 years old) – Metallurgical Engineering student
- Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (31 years old) – Nursing student (Université de Montréal)
- Maryse Laganière (25 years old) – Employee, Finance Department
- Maryse Leclair (23 years old) – Metallurgical Engineering student
- Anne-Marie Lemay (22 years old) – Mechanical Engineering student
- Sonia Pelletier (28 years old) – Mechanical Engineering student
- Michèle Richard (21 years old) – Metallurgical Engineering student
- Annie St-Arneault (23 years old) – Mechanical Engineering student
- Annie Turcotte (20 years old) – Metallurgical Engineering student