It was almost December 6th last month when I took out my cell phone and checked the time. I was too late. I had missed the on-campus vigil for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. I didn't put the almost-reliable alarm on my cellphone (on vibrate, of course) nor had I remembered to write in a day's schedule to attend it. After thinking "I'm going to attend it" since posters had been tacked to campus noticeboards in November, I had missed it. As I retreated to the recesses of my Calculus textbook that afternoon I remembered the vigil my high school Equity Club put on in the eleventh grade. Sixteen students portrayed one of the fourteen murdered women at L'Ecole Polytechnique in 1989, the male bystander Eric Chavarie or Helen Betty Osborne. They stood beyond a thousand-seat auditorium and proclaimed a monologue each about lost ambitions and prolonged investigations to almost eight hundred. I remembered the artwork we crafted in my school's foyer the year after with over six hundred papers dangling from the ceiling, each stamped with red or black feathers on one side, the other sides embossed with Daughter, Auntie, Mother, Friend or Dreamer . . .
For all that our neurons (nerve cells) piece together at 3:01 AM in the morning, I'm quite glad that most dreams don't come true. If they did and I could control my dreams, though, here is what I would dream. I would dream of a society where you are valued for what makes you the person you are, whether it be your gender, your culture or your span of abilities and weaknesses.
I scan my twitter feed and pictures of smiling women flash against my screen. Angel Carlick,19, disappeared from Whitehorse in May 2007. She was found dead in November 2007.
Nineteen years of age when the heart pumped its last beat, when the lungs inhaled the last breath. A month ago I turned eighteen. My age lives a paradox of fear and ambition. What ambitions vaporized after the last heartbeat in Angel Carlick? What hopes were exhaled in the last breath in one-thousand-one-hundred-and-eighty-one women, added to the fourteen women killed in the Montreal Massacre, added to the many more women and non-women being killed daily for their qualities?
I scroll down my twitter feed to almost three weeks before I started Arriving at. Awetsome. The faces of fourteen women frozen in picture flash across the screen. Smiles on their faces stretch from beyond the zenith of the atmosphere. Different programs of study follow their pictures. Nursing. Mechanical Engineering. Metallurgic Engineering. Chemical Engineering. Materials Engineering. Civil Engineering. They're the same programs my friends and I are doing. Once in a while I will ask a friend why she or he chose engineering. Amongst ideas of job security and high marks are passions for and to manipulate the Sciences. I noticed that one of the fourteen women wanted to use her degree to help the environment. That's my same ambition. How many complex minds have we lost from the surface of the earth at the edge of violence?
Yet because I have the mind to aspire, here is what I strive for. I strive to build a society crafted by compassion, grown in respect for gender, cultivated by culture and strengthened in the span of human abilities and weaknesses.
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