The Montreal Massacre at Thirty One

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Today, December 6th, this year the Second Sunday of Advent, other years the feast of Saint Nicholas, marks also this year the thirty-first anniversary of what is known as the ‘Montreal Massacre’. When I began writing this, I thought in some vague vagarie it was the fortieth, having a vague thought that it was 1980 when Marc Lepine, whose original name was Gamil Gharbi, killed fourteen people, before killing himself, in what he claimed was a ‘anti-feminist’ rampage through École Polytechnique school of engineering. But the piece was already half-written when I realized it was rather the fateful year of 1989.

Gamil Gharbi was the son of a Quebecoise mother and a Muslim Algerian father, who was physically and verbally abusive to his wife and boy, who, in the tradition of his religion, considered women inferior, and who left a mark of rage and resentment in young Gamil. Upon his parents’ inevitable separation, with dear Dad ceasing any contact, Gamil adopted a more conventional first name, and his mother’s last name. This tragedy has as much to do with Islam and its doleful influence, as it does with anti-feminism.

Of course, people can and should overcome childhood difficulties, as this reflection from the inimitable Theodore Dalrymple points out, using his own example, as well as those of Dickens, Chekov and countless others. Life depends on what we do with the cards we are dealt. And Gamil/Marc did what he did – giving in to hate.

After a vain attempt to join the military and study engineering, Gamil/Marc decided it was all women’s fault, or something, and walked into an engineering classroom on the evening of Wednesday, December 6th at about 5:10 p.m. He demanded ‘Separaz vous!’, asking the men, about fifty of them, to leave, and the women, nine in all, to stay. They thought it was a joke, until he left off a deafening round from his assault rifle. Every man walked past him to the hallway outside, leaving the women to their fate.

I’m not sure what I would have done in that situation, but I hope, perhaps against hope, that I would have done more that saunter past, head down, avoiding eye contact. Especially when the gunshots began, after which Marc/Gamil walked out the door past all the men, and went to shoot another seven people, and stabbing another. This does not reflect well upon Canadian manhood, in more ways than one. But I may well have been one of those hunkered down; I only hope I would, and know I should, not have been.

As is oft the case in these mass killings, about twenty minutes later, the devil apparently having had enough for one day, Gamil/Marc put a bullet through his own brain, to face what judgement was his, leaving fourteen people dead, ten women, and four men.

Sad, tragic, with many questions left unanswered.

In our broad and broadening culture of death, with the daily death count from abortion and euthanasia counting far beyond this number – we should put all this in perspective. When we the wind, we reap the whirlwind, and when we sow death, we will reap death.

I suppose one message is that we should not to let this tragedy to lead to further hate and division, but rather to make good use of what days we are given, to rejoice in life, in all the good that it holds, treasure our loved ones, work for the cause of life, and even, should the moment arrive, lay down our lives for another.

And for the dead – may God have mercy on the souls of those who availed themselves of His mercy, and grant them Life.