Richard Khoury was 10 years old and living in Quebec City on the day of the Montreal Massacre.
On Dec. 6, 1989, Marc Lepine entered the École Polytechnique in Montreal and killed 14 women before killing himself.
Lakehead University honoured the women who lost their lives that day with a ceremony to recognize the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
Khoury, now an associate professor of software engineering at Lakehead, spoke at the ceremony of his memories of that day and what it means for his home province.
He recalled arriving at school the day after the massacre not knowing what had happened.
"I got there expecting a regular school day and all the teachers were very clearly disturbed by something," he said.
"I couldn't understand or make sense of it back then; I was just too young."
Over time, Khoury came to realize what had happened that day. It was an event that cast a shadow over all of Quebec, something they could never shake off.
"It's something we keep thinking about, that forces us really to move forward," he said.
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Since then, there have been new gun control laws and better police prevention strategies, but Khoury said women's rights always has an echo of what happened in 1989.
When he was studying engineering at Laval University, he passed a memorial to the Polytechnique victims every day on his way to class.
"In class, there were women but they weren't victims. They weren't set apart or stigmatized. They were regular students. They were our friends. We studied together. We partied together. We did student union activities together," said Khoury.
"It's something we won't forget but also not something that has defined us or held us back."
Friday's ceremony included a candlelight vigil and moment of silence. Brief biographies of each of the 14 victims were read as a candle was lit in their honour.
Gender Issues Centre coordinator Jayal Chung said she felt it was important people remember who those women were and the potential they held.
There were also 14 empty chairs representing the victims.
Chung said they were there as a reminder that those women had lives.
"They had dreams they wanted to pursue and it was stopped because of this man," she said.
Chung also spoke about the actions people can take everyday to make the community a safer place on and off campus.
"It's important to remember the changes that have happened since this tragedy to remember violence against women is still happening," she said.
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