Title: BECAUSE THEY WERE WOMEN
Subtitle: THE MONTREAL MASSACRE
Author: JOSÉE BOILEAU
Genre: NON-FICTION, HISTORY, TRUE CRIME, CANADIAN NON-FICTION, FEMINIST NON-FICTION, WOMEN’S ISSUES
Length: 308 PAGES
Publisher: SECOND STORY PRESS
Received From: NETGALLEY
Release Date: NOVEMBER 10, 2020
Price: $24.95 USD
Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Fourteen young university students, murdered because they were women, are memorialized in this definitive account of a tragic day that forced a reckoning with violence against women in our culture.
Each of the victims of what became known as the “Montreal Massacre” are remembered, their lives cut short on December 6, 1989 when a man entered their school and systematically shot every young woman he encountered, motivated by a misogyny who’s roots go far beyond one man and one day.
Canada’s first mass femicide took place on December 6th, 1989 when an Anti-Feminist gunman named Marc Lépine rampaged through the halls and classrooms of École Polytechnique de Montréal.
This cowardly “man” separated the men from the women and opened fire, killing fourteen and wounding several others. He was not “man enough” nor “woman enough” to face up to the consequences of his actions and took his own life.
Journalist and author, JOSÉE BOILEAU has written the only book to ever examine this crime and it’s aftermath.
Not only does this book discuss the day of the Massacre, it also details the political and societal norms of the times and the specific challenges facing women in 1989.
By outlining the massacre and the changes that came about as a result, the author gives this important event the respect it is due.
The murdered women, many of whom did not specifically self-identify as “feminists,” have been honored with a Day of Remembrance that is still celebrated today – over three decades later.
In my opinion, it is about time that an accurate historical accounting of this hate crime has been written. This book needs to be incorporated into every high-school History and Civics curriculum Canada-wide. This MUST be required reading.
It is fitting that BECAUSE THEY WERE WOMEN is being released the day before November 11th, which is Remembrance Day here in Canada. Even though Remembrance Day is a day to honor the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice during their military service, the fourteen mass murder victims were unwitting pawns in a war they were unaware they were involved in. WE MUST REMEMBER THESE WOMEN.
In 1905, George Santayana, a philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
We CANNOT allow these women to be forgotten. With the writing of this book, Josée Boileau has ensured that their memories will live on.
I rate BECAUSE THEY WERE WOMEN as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I highly recommend this book to every single Canadian, male and female. I will be recommending this book to everyone I know.
With the 31st Anniversary of the shooting rapidly approaching, I will definitely be giving copies of this book to all of my local women’s shelters for their libraries.
*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***
Lépine killed fourteen women (twelve engineering students, one nursing student, and one employee of the university) and injured fourteen others, ten women and four men.
Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student
Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student
Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student
Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique’s finance department
Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student
Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student
Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student
Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student
The Quebec and Montreal governments declared three days of mourning. A joint funeral for nine of the women was held at Notre-Dame Basilica on December 11, 1989, and was attended by Governor General Jeanne Sauvé, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Quebec premier Robert Bourassa, and Montreal mayor Jean Doré, along with thousands of other mourners.
Who was that gutsy young woman who stood up to a cold-eyed killer?
Twenty-five years after surviving the Polytechnique massacre, Nathalie Provost mused about her younger self.
On Dec. 6, 1989, moments before Marc Lépine began a shooting rampage that killed 14 women at Quebec’s largest engineering school, Provost, then a 23-year-old mechanical engineering student, tried to reason with the gunman.
Lépine’s response was a hail of bullets that killed six of her classmates and wounded Provost in the head and leg.
“There’s a lot of tenderness for the young woman I was then, for her naïveté,” said Provost, now a 48-year-old mother of four who works as a senior manager for the provincial government.
“The wounds to your body, you see right away. For the wounds to your soul, it takes longer. You don’t understand them right away. It took me years to grasp what I had lived through.” — Nathalie Provost
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Josée Boileau has been a journalist for more than thirty years, many of those for Quebec’s Le Devoir newspaper, where she became Editor in Chief.
Today, she is a current affairs commentator for CBC/Radio Canada and Chatelaine, and a book columnist for Journal de Montréal.
She has received a number of honors, including the Hélène-Pednault prize in recognition of her feminist activism.
She lives in Montreal.
To learn more about this author, visit the following links:
CBC Archives of the Massacre
A play about the shootings by Adam Kelly called “The Anorak” was named as one of the best plays of 2004 by the Montreal Gazette.
Colleen Murphy’s play “December Man” was first staged in Calgary in 2007.
The movie Polytechnique, directed by Denis Villeneuve was released in 2009, and sparked controversy over the desirability of reliving the tragedy in a commercial film.
Several songs have been written about the events, including “This Memory” by the folk duo the Wyrd Sisters, and “6 December 1989” by the Australian singer Judy Small.
VIDEOS ABOUT THE MONTREAL MASSACRE: