Four-year anniversary of Dawson College shooting showcases the unity of the school community
By Galit Gilor // September 15, 2010
Michael Lessard, treasurer for the Dawson Student Union, explained today that the Dawson College community feels safe following the four-year anniversary of the shooting that shook the school’s core.
“We do not fear because we are confident in our security services, and in the quick and effective support of the police,” Lessard said. “There isn’t any fear of the Other at Dawson.”
Lessard’s words echo the ones of Don Walker, dean of program services, who, on September 13, explained to the Montreal Gazette that although the tragedy changed the college as a whole, it also helped people unite.
September 13, 2006 marked a sombre day in Dawson College’s 41-year history. It was on that date that Kimveer Gill, 25, entered the school cafeteria during the lunchtime hour with three rifles and began shooting people at random.
Anastasia De Sousa, a business student who was 18 at the time, was killed in a shooting rampage that left 20 people injured, 16 of them suffering from severe gunshot wounds. Gill then took his own life.
Students and faculty members still remember the day vividly. Time might heal wounds, but it does not diminish the magnitude of what happened on that day.
“We remember together what sufferance we went through,” said Lessard.
Although many of the students have since left the school, this grave day brought the college’s large and diverse community together.
A new Dawson student this fall, Lessard believes that the school’s new students share an irreversible bond with the alumni and the faculty who were present at that time.
“I wasn’t there during the shooting, but I think that the Dawson community now has a common memory and history that joins us in our values.”
To keep the victims’ memories alive, Lessard insists that speaking about the shooting is not discouraged on college grounds. Rather, it is encouraged.
“As one of the many students that arrived at Dawson after the shooting, I can testify that the shooting is in no way taboo,” Lessard explained. “Because this is our common memory, it is important for us to talk about it and make sure that people understand what happened and what can be done in order to avoid such a shooting from repeating itself.”
The Dawson Student Union, which represents approximately 10,000 students, is making sure that such a dramatic event will never take place again, not only in Montreal, but in Canada as a whole.
To spread the word, the Dawson Student Union and several other student-run groups are holding a media conference on September 16 to talk about Bill C-391, which seeks to repeal the long-gun registry, an act that Lessard believes will take society a step back in terms of regulating gun violence.
With the 2010-2011 academic year rolling in, Lessard is optimistic and believes that remembrance is key.
“We need to remember how we helped each other and supported ourselves in our grief so that we know that the human’s ability to live in peace and harmony is stronger than any attempt to destroy our world.”