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Tuesday, December 07, 1999Ten years later, Montreal vigil turns into political event
Ecole Polytechnique: Relatives of victims join forces with gun-control activists
MONTREAL - Montrealers marked yesterday's 10th anniversary of the killing of 14 young women at the Ecole Polytechnique with a sombre vigil.
For the families, it was a day of both sad remembrance and political activism as relatives of the victims also joined gun-control activists to express outrage at challenges to federal gun-control legislation.
On the campus of the Ecole Polytechnique, students, professors and relatives of the victims met in the cold rain in front of the plaque that marks the tragic event and placed bouquets of flowers at the memorial while a choir of students sang.
The vigil took place steps away from where Marc Lepine, carrying a semi-automatic rifle, sought out women as he walked through the halls of the engineering school on a killing spree 10 years ago.
The 250 people at the vigil then formed a procession, walking behind a piper down the side of Mount Royal to a public memorial to the victims that was dedicated on Sunday.
Earlier, about 7,000 teachers and support staff from Montreal's largest school board, the Commission Scolaire de Montreal, held a rally against violence at the Molson Centre, the downtown hockey arena.
The event, organized in part because a school board employee, Pierre Lemay, lost his daughter, Anne-Marie Lemay, in the massacre, included appeals from school board officials to regulate violence on television. A series of workshops on violence were held at schools across the city later in the day.
"Let's know how to cultivate in ourselves -- day after day, minute after minute -- tolerance, patience and respect for others," Mr. Lemay told the crowd. "Because it is only in pacifying ourselves, individual by individual, that peace becomes possible in our society."
Yesterday's memorial events also included a renewed appeal for gun control from several relatives of the victims, many of whom have been active in campaigning for gun legislation.
"Ten years ago today, our daughters were denied life in their prime," said Suzanne Laplante-Edward, whose daughter, Anne-Marie Edward, was killed in the massacre. "They will have achieved something very, very important in their deaths."
Ms. Laplante-Edward said the new federal gun-control law, Bill C-68, is being put into effect "in dribbles," over a period of years. She also expressed anger that several provinces, and gun lobby groups, continue to attack the law.
The legislation, which includes mandatory registration of all firearms, is facing a challenge in the Supreme Court of Canada that was launched by the government of Alberta. Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick will argue against the law.
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