We were sitting at a large drafting table in the naval architecture lab in the Civil Engineering and Mechanical Engineering building at UBC when someone came in and said it had happened. My own initial emotion was of incredulous shock.
It took some time for the horrible reality of what had happened to trickle in: A heavily-armed young man had separated out women and then massacred them in the engineering school in Montreal. Because they were women and he was murderously
angry at women.
On December 6, 1989, when we first heard reports that a terrorist had attacked Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal, I was a 2nd-year mechanical engineering student at UBC.
I will never forget where I was when I learned about it, because it is permanently seared into the memory of all Canadian women I know who were adults at the time.
Many of the victims were our age that day. We were enrolled in the same program as them: mechanical engineering. These women, whose lives were savagely snuffed out by that angry man’s rage, had beaten incredible odds just to be enrolled in mechanical engineering. They were students in a space that was already struggling with its toxicity to women.