Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Marc Lépine's Gendercide: The Montreal Massacre

The Meaning of Tragedy

Ann-Marie Edward
Ann-Marie Edward

While people struggled to make sense of Lépine's rage and his delusion that women might actually respond as he desired, there was plenty of anger. Domestic abuse centers offered statements to the effect that such violence represented the controlling attitudes of many men who were threatened by the accomplishments of women. Even when they did not kill as Lépine had done, they abused them to try to retain control. Many people blamed society's collusion with and support of those attitudes.

According to Mass Murderers, those who survived the massacre, wounded or not, were plagued by nightmares and post traumatic stress disorders. Some could not go on with their education, and many went into therapy. Sarto Blais, who had been there that day, attempted to deal with it but finally succumbed to depression and hanged himself. In despair, his parents also committed suicide.

Sonia Pelletier
Sonia Pelletier

Even now, years later, people use the tragedy to raise awareness about violence aimed at women who wish to better themselves. The Coalition for Gun Control grew out of the massacre, which has been influential in pressuring for laws that require registration of firearms in Canada, with stricter controls. For the families of some of the victims, that has been a small consolation. Perhaps others have been saved as a result.

Yet there is also an interesting irony associated with the École Polytechnique massacre. Lynda Hurst pointed out in the Toronto Star that Lépine's outburst has had the opposite of its intended effect: "Between 1989 and 1999, the proportion of women enrolled in Canadian engineering faculties rose from 13 to 19 percent. And in absolute numbers, it more than doubled to nearly 9,000."

In short, violence is a poor way to exert control.

 

 

* Thanks to Trista Dashner for research assistance.

 

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