Robbins encourages people to take action during Montreal Massacre vigil

Diane Crocker
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Sonya Corbin Dwyer bends in to blow out the candle representing the life of one of the 14 women killed in the Montreal Massacre during a ceremony at the College of the North Atlantic Friday.

CORNER BROOK  As Wendy Robbins read a poem written about the Montreal Massacre, she couldn’t contain her emotion.

“It’s hard not to cry,” she said as she read “For the Montreal Fourteen Who Lived and Died in the Heartbeat of Woman,” by Maxine Tynes at a memorial vigil for the 14 women killed at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal on Dec. 6, 1989.

Robbins, a professor with the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, was the guest speaker for the vigil hosted by the Corner Brook Status of Women Council, the Committee on Family Violence and the Western Regional Coalition to End Violence at the College of the North Atlantic on Friday.

Robbins spoke after roses were placed and lighted candles extinguished for each of the 14 women killed.

She told those gathered of meeting the mother of one of those women.

Robbins said Suzanne Laplante Edouard travelled the country for a decade after the massacre that took the life of her daughter, Ann Marie Edouard. She spoke on university campuses and lobbied hard for stricter gun laws and for a gun registry.

“Canada gained both, and she thought that was the good to come of the Montreal Massacre, and then, of course, we lost one, the gun registry,” said Robbins.

Robbins encouraged those present to take action like Edouard did.

“When anyone witnesses sexist, racist, ableist, homophobic, or child or elder abuse, don’t look away, don’t think it is ‘just a joke,’ and don’t remain silent,” she said.

“Don’t go along with the crowd mindlessly parroting a pro-rape chant during frosh week. Which, as we know, happened on more than one campus this very year.”

Instead, she said to seek help for yourself or those you care about when it is needed.

“If we each raise heart and hands, another world indeed is possible.”

Following the vigil Robbins described Edouard as heroic.

“A mother does get protective and tries to fix things for the next generation. And she absolutely worked heroicly to do that and it must be just heartbreaking to see things roll back,” she said.

“Yes Canada has made some significant progress. It is enough? Not nearly.”

Robbins said reports on whether or not the gender gap in Canada is narrowing are mixed, but typically show the country is slideing in that area.

And Robbins said it would take very simple measures to reverse that.

One being the implementation of a national child care program.

The other is to bring back the long gun registry.

“By a large it was saving lives and police forces across the country have said that. And the rate at which women were being killed by firearms went down.”

Later Friday evening Robbins spoke more on the challenges women continue to face at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland in a talk titled “Our Slip is Showing.”

Organizations: College of the North Atlantic on Friday.Robbins, Montreal Massacre, Ecole Polytechnique University of New Brunswick Women Council Committee on Family Violence Western Regional Coalition Memorial University of Newfoundland

Geographic location: Montreal, Canada, Fredericton

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