On Monday, Dec. 6th, 1999, an evening vigil was held in the Engineering Lecture Theatre of Memorial University to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of 1989 Montreal Massacre and to recognize Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action to End Violence Against Women. About 300 individuals from the community and university attended. The ceremony began with a candlelight procession of men and women students from the Engineering Society B, each of whom placed a rose in a vase at the front and lit a large pillar candle, in memory of the fourteen women killed in Montreal, and a fifteenth candle in recognition of those in our own province who suffer from violence. Beautiful music on the harp accompanied the opening of the evening.
The ceremony continued with Terry Rielly singing an original composition, "Fourteen Women", written on the night of the 1989 tragedy. We then were introduced in a deeply personal way to each of the Montreal women through a video of a 1995 presentation by Mme Suzanne Leplante-Edward, mother of Anne-Marie Edward. A warm and passionate description accompanied the slides of each of these young women, and a minute of silence and reflection followed. Representatives of the Engineering Class of 1996 then unveiled a donation from their colleagues - a memorial plaque in honour of these women, entitled "Our Sisters, Our Daughters, Our Friends".
A significant and very moving part of the vigil underscored the theme, First we remember, then we work for change. After the name of each woman was read, representatives from community groups dedicated a piece of their work for the next year, in honour of that woman. Approximately 35 organizations participated, and conveyed the very powerful message of women and men working together to end violence and make a better community for all.
The Women in Engineering Memorial Scholarship, established in honour of those murdered in Montreal and recognizing women's participation in engineering, was presented by the Dean of Engineering, Dr. R. Seshadri to Sheri-Lynn Butler of Manuels. A new composition,"They Live On", was performed by Terry Rielly and he led the audience in singing the spirited anthem, "Sister, Carry On" to end the evening.
Feedback and publicity from the vigil has been very positive, and emphasizes the importance of our remembering these women and working to effect change in our families, schools, workplaces and communities. The Dec. 6th organizing committee consisted of faculty, staff and students from Memorial University (including the Assistant to, and the NSERC/Petro-Canada Chair) and individuals from community and government agencies.