Polytechnique: New book tells stories of 14 victims, history of Quebec women's movement
MONTREAL -- On the 30th anniversary of the Ecole Polytechnique massacre, a new book is sharing stories of the victims and looking back at the women's movement in Quebec.
Entitled "Ce jour-là – Parce qu’elles étaient des femmes," the book by Josée Boileau pays tribute to the 14 slain women by bringing them to life.
Catherine Bergeron was 18 on that terrible day. Her sister Genevieve, 21, was one of the victims.
"With that book, we wanted to pay homage to the 14 women because you know, we heard their names a lot for the last 30 years, but who were they? Who would they be if they were still here today, you know?" said Bergeron.
She and other families were happy to share stories and photographs of their loved ones.
"I felt that the book was finally an outlet to the family to talk about their daughter, sister, lovers. That's what I felt, really.
"It was very touching," said Bergeron.
"Ce jour-là – Parce qu’elles étaient des femmes" has another objective, too.
The book not only looks at what happened inside the Polytechnique 30 years ago and the discussions that followed, but it also takes a look at the women's movement in Quebec and the 30 years prior to the massacre.
"Not just the day of, but what was the Quebec 30 years before and what became of Quebec 30 years after the feminist movement," said Bergeron.
The goal: to try to understand how the extreme act of violence against women happened in a province that thought it had accepted feminism and gender equality.
"Everybody was hurt in that: feminists, but the whole community was hurt in what happened," she said.
The book and City of Montreal have now called the massacre what it was: an act of violence against women. That label was long denied, because it was too painful.
"So it was like a wake-up call but a hard one. So that might be explaining why it took so much time for us," she said.
Three decades later, Bergeron hopes the book, along with continuing ceremonies marking Dec. 6, will help both those who are old enough to remember to heal – and, for younger generations who were not, to understand and learn.
"I think it's a work in progress but we're in a place where we can start dialoging and do things more than ever, I think," said Bergeron.