Memorial services took place Tuesday to honour the 14 women killed at Ecole Polytechnique 27 years ago.

In the morning, 14 white roses were placed in front of a commemorative plaque, and flags at the university will fly at half-mast from dawn to dusk.

Chistophe Guy, the school's CEO, placed the flowers and spoke to reporters.

"We'll never forget, and today we wanted to say again that violence against women is not admissible," said Guy.

On this day in 1989, a gunman walked into the engineering school and killed 13 students and one staff member, all women.

Marc Lepine injured another 14 women before killing himself.

He said he was "fighting feminism."

Guy said the incident forever marked the school, and convinced students and staff that they have to uphold values of equality and education.

"We want to make sure that our girls, that our women, will want to do whatever they want in life, like studying engineering, and we wanted to preserve that opportunity for all of them," said Guy.

He said the tragedy has not stopped women from studying engineering, and said enrolment among women has increased in the years since.

Michele Thibodeau-Deguire, chair of the board of directors of Ecole Polytechnique, said she has mixed feelings about the massacre.

"I remember what happened then but I also see what can come out of it.. Yesterday we saw part of that with the Order of the White Rose when we have this young woman that just stands out from the rest and received this very special scholarship," said Thibodeau-Deguire.

"The way people rally around and say we can build something on this horror."

Most students at the school were not born when the massacre took place.

"They understand the solemnity of the day," said Guy.

"We still have some employees who were there that day. I was there that day. It's important to have this activity to remember."

"I was in the building, but discovered what happened after the evacuation and I went home and turned on the TV," said Guy.

Thibodeau-Deguire said the massacre was a reminder that schools do not exist in a cocoon.

"That it would happen here, in a place where you would never expect that, has had an effect on everyone. We're not as free as we thought we were," said Thibodeau-Deguire.

She added, though, that the shock and horror does not last forever.

"Life has come back and luckily time does change things and we're free to walk and we're not afraid," she said.

A vigil was also held at the Mount Royal lookout at 5 p.m. where 14 beams of light illuminated the sky, one at a time, in memory of the victims.

Services also took place across the country. In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau laid flowers on Parliament Hill with female members of his cabinet.