June 17th, 2024

Engineering students mark Day of Remembrance

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on December 7, 2022.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Civil Engineering Technology student Zane Hilland reads one of the posters designed to bring awareness about gender-based violence while remembering the victims of the Ecole Politechnique tragedy Tuesday at Lethbridge College.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Lethbridge College Engineering Technologies students brought awareness to fellow college students about gender-based violence Tuesday on National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

Second year student in the Civil Engineering Technology program, Zane Hilland, said they are trying to bring enhanced awareness to the tragedy that happened Dec. 6, 1989.

“On Dec. 6, 1989, an armed man entered Montreal’s École Polytechnique and killed 14 women where 12 of them were engineering students and excluded the men that were in the program,” said Hilland.

He said this armed man, Marc Lepine, would walk into a classroom, kick the men out, line up the women and shoot them.

“It was a horrible tragedy and I think we’ve forgotten about it because it happened so long ago and so far away. I thought it was really important to bring enhanced information to our college,” said Hilland.

He said the awareness about the massacre was originally going to be in the engineering department area of the college but it grew exponentially from there once their department chair Edith Olson and their dean Terry Kowalchuk got on board.

The awareness was being brought forward through posters that were designed by Engineering instructor Tobi Baugh, who is very passionate about the subject, being a women in engineering herself.

“We’ve got four of them in the engineering classrooms on permanent display with the approval of the upper executive in the college and then we’re going to display others in different areas of the college every year on this date moving forward,” said Hilland.

He said it is important to showcase them across campus as women are part of multiple programs, as well as staff members and in general as members of society.

“There’s women everywhere, women are a very important part of our society and as men we need to step up and take a role in fostering care and community, and we have to look at everybody that’s around us,” said Hilland.

He said that was the reason why he thought it was important to share the message with the whole campus community.

“It doesn’t matter if women are in STEM fields, or if they’re in nursing, or if they are homemakers, they all need protection and this awareness hopefully will bring that to the forefront,” said Hilland.

He said within the engineering technologies there is a handful of women within the three programs.

“But just because there’s only a handful, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t still bring this forward. Men can learn from this as much as women can be remembered for this,” said Hilland.

He said the awareness brought forward had no intention of turning the conversation toward anti-feminism or gun control.

“Those conversations are all over the place, it’s more about bringing awareness to the victims and remembering that this tragedy happened. This was the largest tragedy, the worst tragedy that happened in Canada up until what happened in Nova Scotia,” said Hilland.

He said for decades this was a massive event and it needs to be in our memories more so than just having flags at half-mast.

Chair of the school of engineering technologies Edith Olson said Hilland was very passionate about the initiative.

“He was quite passionate about doing something because it was violence against women, which of course is wrong. He’s a man and it was important because we are a school of engineering technologies and because engineering has typically been dominated by men,” said Olson.

She said that after being approached by Hilland, she approached her superiors, and they supported the initiative almost immediately.

“Let’s just put it this way, there are no obstacles for women to become engineers, it’s not a man’s world, it’s a discipline that is mathematical, detail oriented and collaborative, and there are many options for people of all genders to be able to be part of this exciting industry,” said Olson.

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