The Montreal Massacre

Photo credit: Moment Factory

Remember, remember the 6th of December: Remembering the Montreal Massacre

Thirty years ago, as a little girl growing up in Montreal, I lost my innocence.

I will never forget that day.   Not December 6th, 1989, but the next day, December 7th.  The detail that stands out the most is the memory of the front-page of the Montreal Gazette.  The photograph that accompanied the headline would be hard-pressed to make the pages of a newspaper today, let alone the front page.  It shows a man taking down a holiday decoration that reads, ‘Bonne Année’.  Happy New Year.  In the foreground is a lifeless body, slumped back in a cafeteria chair.

Happy New Year.  Your life is over, and so are the lives of those who loved you.

My twelve-year-old self will never forget that photograph.  I imagine the man was doing the only thing he could at that moment.  It seemed as though he was trying to keep some semblance of control.   Shock makes us work in strange ways.  Through his, the gentleman acted in a way that showed respect for the victims whether he realized it or not.

You can find the photo online, but often with the lower half cropped out.  We often crop out the gruesome parts to save us from reality.  I’ll let you search for the iconic Allen McKinnis photograph yourself.  Mr. McKinnis managed to capture the horror of the Montreal Massacre so well, you’d have thought he had been there the entire time.  Please be warned, the photo is very graphic in nature.

The memory of December 6th, 1989, is one that should be burned into our collective unconscious.  No one should be endangered when they go to school to learn, to work, or otherwise.  No one should be killed because they belong to the wrong gender.

My hope for the next thirty years

It dawned on me this morning as I read articles about the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre that the very least we can do for one another is to be kind.  For the 14 women who looked hatred square in the face on December 6th, 1989, and didn’t make it home, let’s endeavour to be kind to one another, today and every day.

In honour of the victims, I vow to continue to strive, to do better, to break down barriers, and to live my best life.  And I will do it with kindness.

– KM

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