Saturday, December 6, 2014

It Might Have Been Me

Twenty-five years ago today, 14 young women engineers were killed at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal. At the time, I was the mother of 2 small boys, the younger just about to turn 2. I am also a Professional Engineer, and the previous summer, I had celebrated the 10th anniversary of my graduation with my classmates.

This event affected me deeply. Much like these young women, I could never see any reason why I should not be an engineer. I didn't even realize that this was an unconventional career for a women, until I arrived at school, and discovered that in my class of 120, there was only one other woman. I didn't think I was any different from peers. I knew if I worked hard, I was entitled to my degree. It was not any easier to get into the program as a woman. There were no quotas. I knew that there were people who were not accepted into the program, but it was not because of their gender. It was because they didn't meet the standard.  As a matter of fact, one of my acceptance letters started Dear Mr....

I was lucky. Although I was told, more than once, that I couldn't be an engineer, because I was a woman, no one ever tried to use violence to stop me. 

Every year as this anniversary rolls around, I get angry at the slant that the press puts on this event. It is lumped together with domestic violence, as a symbol of men committing violence against women.

Twenty-five years ago, I saw this as an act of person committing violence against 14 other people because they had worked hard and become engineers, when he could not. They were engineers, and I am sure they were proud to be members of this profession. They believed that all people should be treated equally in schools and workplaces, and they died for those beliefs.

I can only hope that future history will remember them not just as women, but as engineers.

In Memory of:

Michele Richard
Helene Colgan
Maud Haviernick
Nathalie Croteau
Barbara Daigneault
Genevieve Bergeron
Sonia Pelletier
Annie St. Arneault
Maryse Leclair
Maryse Laganiere
Anne-Marie Lemay
Anne-Marie Edward
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz
Annie Turcotte

The Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation  has been created in their honour.


  1. My heart goes out the families of those young, so much promise never to be fulfilled.

  2. Oh Kate, I read the article on Google, and had tears, For the women engineers , their families, those who survived. The gunman, what hatred was in his heart that day. Stay strong, remember them and those who graduated with you, and be so proud of your degree. Hugs, Jean.