The Montreal Massacre at École Polytechnique

Plaque commemorating the victims. Requiscant in pace. (

Today, December 6th, the memorial of jolly Saint Nicholas, marks also the sombre anniversary of what is known as the ‘Montreal Massacre’ in 1989, 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.

Gamil Gharbi was the son of a Quebecoise mother and a Muslim Algerian father, who was physically and verbally abusive to his wife and their son, 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 his father ceasing any contact, Gamil adopted a Quebecois first name, and his mother’s last name.

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 along those lines, in the rambling letter he left. On December 6th at about 5:10 p.m. – it was a Wednesday that year – he entered an engineering classroom, and 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 let off a deafening round from his assault rifle, when they realized he meant business. Every man then 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 on to shoot another seven people, and stabbing another.

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.

This incident does not reflect well upon Canadian manhood, in more ways than one, As Mark Steyn vividly recounts in his own take on the debacle.  But we may learn, not perhaps what we might have done, but what we should have, by the grace of God.

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 sow 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, nor any of the sufferings and privations that are our lot, 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 life 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.