Roses for each of the 14 women killed at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989 are laid in the snow outside the Salmon Arm campus of Okanagan College near red dresses signifying Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, part of the annual vigil held Dec. 6. (Photo contributed)

Roses for each of the 14 women killed at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989 are laid in the snow outside the Salmon Arm campus of Okanagan College near red dresses signifying Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, part of the annual vigil held Dec. 6. (Photo contributed)

Need for vigil in Salmon Arm to mark Montreal massacre doesn’t lessen after 33 years

Murder charges laid regarding missing women in Manitoba days before United Against Violence vigil

In 2021, the United Against Violence against Women Candlelight Vigil took place on the same day the RCMP revealed the remains of Shuswap missing woman Ashley Simpson had been found near Salmon Arm.

This year, 2022, the Dec. 6 candlelight vigil at the Salmon Arm campus of Okanagan College was held just days after murder charges were laid in the deaths of three missing Indigenous women in Manitoba: Morgan Harrris, Marcedes Myran and a woman identified only as Buffalo Woman. The accused had already been charged with the murder of Rebbeca Contois.

The vigil marks the 33rd anniversary of the École Polytechnique Massacre, in which 14 young women, engineering students, were shot to death in 1989 by a man who entered the Montreal school with the intent to kill “feminists.”

The Salmon Arm vigil also honours and remembers the women still missing from the Shuswap and North Okanagan. This year brings the sixth anniversary of the disappearance of Caitlin Potts and Deanna Wertz, and five years since Nicole Bell went missing. The remains of Tracy Genereaux were found in 2017 on a farm near Silver Creek, but no charges have been laid.

Read more: Five years pass with no peace for families of North Okanagan-Shuswap missing women

Once again it was a powerful ceremony, with a candle and a single red rose placed next to the names of each of the women murdered in Montreal: Geneviève Bergeron; Hélène Colgan; Nathalie Croteau; Barbara Daigneault; Anne-Marie Edward; Maud Haviernick; Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz; Maryse Laganière; Maryse Leclair; Anne-Marie Lemay; Sonia Pelletier; Michèle Richard; Annie St-Arneault and Annie Turcotte.

During a candlelit ceremony the roses were carried outside and placed on the ground near the college pond.

The vigil was shorter than usual due to illness. The college noted that Edna and Laureen Felix, who have been dedicated attendees and facilitators, were missed as was their powerful drumming.

Longtime organizer Kathy McIntyre-Paul said she is really grateful for those who come out and remember, and for those young people who may have no knowledge of the Montreal massacre but come out to learn.

She also expressed her appreciation for Victory Peck, a local singer and survivor, who came out and sang Blackbird for the vigil, accompanied by Jake McIntyre-Paul.

The vigil is a collaboration between the SAFE Society, the Okanagan College Students Union and Okanagan College Indigenous Services. McIntyre Paul expressed her appreciation for Diyame Derrick Caterer, Lindsay Loftus, Jenny Carter and Monica Kriese who were part of the team putting on the event.

Read more: Emotional vigil in Salmon Arm held on day police reveal remains of Shuswap woman found

Read more: VIDEO: Salmon Arm vigil for murdered women includes a call for action



martha.wickett@saobserver.net
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People carry a single red rose and a candle for each of the 14 women killed at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989 as they walk around the pond at the Salmon Arm campus of Okanagan College, part of the annual vigil held Dec. 6. (Photo contributed)

People carry a single red rose and a candle for each of the 14 women killed at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989 as they walk around the pond at the Salmon Arm campus of Okanagan College, part of the annual vigil held Dec. 6. (Photo contributed)