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U of T engineering students construct monument to mark National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

Engineering undergraduate students built a monument to mark the Dec. 6 National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women (photo courtesy of the Engineering Society)

Tribute remembers the victims of the killings at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal on Dec. 6, 1989, in which 14 female engineering students were killed

Engineering undergraduate students marked the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women by designing and constructing an original monument on King's College Road, next to the Sandford Fleming Building.

The monument is a tribute to the victims of the killings at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal on Dec. 6, 1989, in which 14 female engineering students studying at the university were shot and killed because they were female. Thirteen others were wounded.

The U of T Engineering students' monument features 14 silhouettes arranged in a semi-circle – each bears white lights in the shape of a memorial ribbon that observers can light by pressing a button on one of three informational plaques.

Students read and interact with the installation on Tuesday (photo by Kevin Soobrian)

“I made a very conscious decision when choosing to pursue a career in engineering. I didn't only take my own interests and passions of math and science into consideration, but also what it would mean for other young women to see someone like myself in an engineering program,” said Danja Papajani, a second-year electrical engineering student. “I'm not afraid to stand up for myself or to call myself a feminist, and I will try, as much as I can, to uplift the voices who are still uncomfortable doing so themselves. I recognize that I've been privileged with a fantastic education, a loving and supporting family and a very accepting school community.

“This day reminds me that it is no longer just about myself.”

Joshua Calafato is a third-year engineering science student. He said the day holds many important reminders. 

“First, it is an awful reminder of how deep prejudice can run, and second, it is a hopeful contrast to our present day progress,” said Calafato, who is also a co-chair of the Engineering Society's Blue & Gold Committee. “Though we still have much distance to cover, it seems that the stigmas against women in science and engineering are being lifted: the percentage of female engineering students entering our community is growing every year, and it seems that society is finally accepting that the fallacy of mathematical fields being ‘for men’ is just that – a fallacy.”

Read more about U of T commemorating National Day of Remembrance & Action

The installation reminded students about the tragedy and the broader issue of violence against women (photo by Kevin Soobrian)