Mr. Chair, the date was December 6, 1989. In a few days the fall university semester would be ending. Christmas music was already playing in the shopping centres. Office parties had begun, and children were counting the days to Christmas. And then everything was turned upside down.
On that December day, 14 women were lined up against a wall and shot point blank in the École Polytechnique at the Université de Montréal for one reason only: they were members of the second sex, they were women.
The date was December 6, 1989.
Everyone who is old enough to remember, remembers where they were, what they were doing, who they were with, on December 6, 1989.
The news that day shocked us. Fascinated by the horror of what had been done, we followed the story on television; we were dumbstruck that such a thing could happen here. “Of course not, that can’t be,” people said. In other places, maybe, but here? Violence, horror, misogyny, in Quebec?
And then the event penetrated our minds. Horror gave way to realization. In Quebec, a profound sadness settled in. And of course, out of that, people came together, and candlelight vigils where held everywhere.
And the women and men of Quebec began to drag a millstone of pain around with them. Pain, yes, and also shame.
December 6, 1989, sullied us all.
December 6, 1989, ripped out a part of our soul, and it is now our duty to restore it.
The duty to remember does not offer absolution.
The duty to remember calls for action. The memory of those young women who were stolen from us calls on us to rise up for them. It calls on us to feel that pain again, to feel the void and the shame; it calls on us to rise in anger and indignation against the continuing violence, against the tragedies that still go on, the blows, the slaps across the face, that thousands of women still endure because they are women. Yes, the duty to remember calls on us to act and take action.
The pain that we still feel, and that we must preserve, is what prompts my outrage at this government, as it lays roses with one hand and supplies guns with the other.
Because we have not forgotten, we will carry on the struggle so that violence against women can be ended once and for all, starting by doing everything in our power to maintain the gun registry.