Kimberley Young-Milani of the Circle Women’s Collective lights a candle in remembrance during a ceremony at My Sisters' Place that honours the victims of the Montreal Massacre. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

Londoners Honour Montreal Massacre Victims

There were tears, songs, and words of remembrance as Londoners gathered to honour the victims of the Montreal Massacre.

Nearly 100 people crowded into a third floor room at My Sisters’ Place on Wednesday, the 28th anniversary of the day 14 women were gunned down by a man at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique. A candle was lit for each of the 14 victims as their names were read aloud. At the request of the victims’ families, this will be the final year the names will be read at the London ritual led by the Circle Women’s Collective for Spirituality, Activism & the Earth.

Those in attendance were invited to light a candle for a woman they know who is or has been the victim of gender-based violence.

Circle Council Member Kimberley Young-Milani was among three women who read a passage during the memorial.

“This event is named a ritual and a ritual by its very design honours grief, sadness, and anger and then moves through that to transform it into hope for action,” said Young-Milani. “It is really critical for us in our perspective that the energy of anger be harnessed but in a way that creates positive change. That’s why it is important to have public rituals like this that doesn’t just allow you to sit in grief but allows you to move out into your community and create positive change.”

She said the 1989 massacre pulled back the curtain on violence against women.

“It brought a very acute spotlight onto violence against women that it just doesn’t happen in our homes or in far away places. It happened at a place of privilege, at a university. So I think it is important to remember that violence can cross all cultural barriers and it happens in all walks of life,” said Young-Milani.

The crowd sang all four verses of the solidarity song “This Tough Spun Web” before the ritual came to an end.

This was the third year Taniya Nagpal, a representative of the Society of Graduate Students at Western University attended the ritual. She said it serves as a reminder that every Canadian has a duty to stop others from spreading hatred and misogyny.

“We as individuals have a responsibility to respect everyone regardless of their gender,” said Nagpal. “We need events like this to remind us and allow us to learn from our history to make sure we only improve and live in a better world.”