Ceremonies across Canada mark 26th anniversary of Montreal Massacre
Michael Shulman, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, December 6, 2015 2:48PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, December 6, 2015 9:10PM EST
Dec. 6, 1989 is a day that Chantal Thibeault will never forget.
On that day, Thibeault was a student at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal when 14 women were shot to death by a gunman who blamed “feminists” for ruining his life.
During the 20 minutes of carnage at the engineering school, gunman Marc Lepine, 25, said that he was "fighting feminism.” After shooting a total of 28 people, Lepine killed himself.
On Sunday, Thibeault brought her young daughter to a ceremony in a park to remember her classmates.
"She's become aware that violence against women is completely unacceptable but that it's still going on," Thibeault said about her daughter.
They joined other attendees in laying white roses on pillars in honour of the victims.
On Sunday evening, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in attendance at another vigil held in Montreal.
From Mount Royal, 14 beams of light were projected into the night's sky in remembrance of the women killed in the massacre.
After the ceremony, Trudeau pledged to "never forget," and to do everything he can to "ensure” it never happens again.
In an earlier statement, Trudeau said that he joined the families and friends of the victims with a "heavy heart."
Trudeau said that the vigil provides an opportunity for Canadians to "reflect on all of the women and girls, both here in Canada and abroad, for whom violence is a daily reality."
While the massacre remains a dark chapter in Canada’s history, it spawned the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
Ceremonies were also held in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Saskatoon, where landmarks were lit up in red to honour the victims of violence.
In Saskatoon, flags flew at half-mast across the city. And in Vancouver, people laid flowers at a vigil in Thornton Park.
Aboriginal women inquiry
At many of this year's events, much of the discussion has been centred around violence in Canada's indigenous communities.
Sunday's events put the spotlight on the thousands of indigenous women who have gone missing or been murdered across the country over the last 30 years.
In his statement marking the anniversary, Trudeau emphasized that the government is moving forward with plans for a federal inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women, and reiterated his promise to introduce legislation that will provide greater support for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
"We all have an important role to play in stopping violence against women and girls, and in denouncing misogyny in all its forms," he said.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett said earlier this week that pre-inquiry consultations will be announced in the near future.
A full inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women is expected to be launched in the spring of 2016.
In an appearance on CTV's Question Period, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde said that in addition to an inquiry, there has to be an "action plan" for addressing the root causes of violence.
"The action plan -- where there are investments to deal with housing, education, training, daycare, wellness centres and detox centres -- that has to be coupled with it,” Bellegarde said.
Bellegarde added that the government should aim to "get it done as soon possible," while also ensuring that the families and other stakeholders get to take the time to "properly" lay out the terms of reference.
With a report from CTV Montreal's Kevin Gallagher