On Friday December 4, 2009, U of T will be holding ceremonies across all three campuses to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women was established to mark the tragedy, when Marc Lépine slaughtered 14 women at the École Polytechnique in Montreal on December 6, 1989.

While U of T holds ceremonies every year to mark the incident, this year the university will dedicate two benches adorned with commemorative plaques at Hart House. One bench will display a plaque about remembrance, while the other will feature a plaque about the importance of action in making change.

“Hart House is proud to support the U of T Status of Women Office in leading the December 6th memorial and bench dedication ceremony in the Great Hall,” says Tara Bassett, Senior Communications Officer at Hart House. “This commemorative service is in line with Hart House’s dedication to educating and empowering the community to overcome issues related to diversity and social justice.”

The significance of the plaques lies in the importance of establishing a continuing context and dialogue about what can be done to make a difference.

“In the coming years, the Ecole Polytechnique Massacre in Montreal will be older than many undergraduate students at U of T,” says Connie Guberman, Officer at the Status of Women Office. “For this reason, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women is becoming less about merely remembering the incident and more about illustrating how issues of violence against women are still relevant, both locally and internationally. It’s about how each and every one of us, both individually and collectively, can work towards change.”

Unfortunately, this year’s events fall on a difficult day. Academic pressure due to the exams and final classes of the semester may lead many people who are passionate about the cause to overlook the ceremony. Being aware of this, the Status of Women Office has placed brief tips and suggestions for those interested in the events and raising awareness about violence against women on their website at www.status-women.utoronto.ca.

The ceremonies commence on Friday, December 4 at 12:15 p.m. in the Great Hall at Hart House, and at 12:00 p.m. in AA303 at UTSC and the Student Centre Presentation Room at UTM.

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