The morning after

Thanks for your comments on the previous post; so far I have heard from two of my Dawson friends, and both are fine. They both thought to send group e-mail messages – the Internet is a wonderful thing.
JB mentioned being a Cegep student in December, 1989, when Marc Lepine gunned down 14 women at the Ecole Polytecnique. I was a student here at Vanier in ’89, and I remember only too well. Right now, we have extra security on campus, and there are meetings in progress to discuss whether or not we should have more security on a permanent basis.
Colin had nightmares last night about the incident.
When things like this happen, we often hear people describing their reaction as feeling “helpless” – I think we mean helpless in a psychological, emotional sense. We can ‘help’ – many already have, such as the Concordia people, who sheltered Dawson students, gave them Metro tickets and used their shuttle bus to get students to the nearest open Metro station. Hema-Quebec is organizing blood drives to buffer the supply, especially of type O-.
But when I stood in front of my two classes this morning, or when I looked into my son’s eyes last night, I felt helpless.
I tried to express to my students that as teachers and staff here at Vanier, most of us also have friends at Dawson. We are asking the same questions; we are feeling the same emotions; we are thinking the same thoughts. All we can do is… be “we.”
What do I say to my children? My students, it’s sad to say, are worldly enough now to know that sometimes, life gets ugly. How do I talk about this with my boys, who still see the world in terms of good guys and bad guys, a place where the people who get shot have done something wrong?
UPDATES TO YESTERDAY’S POST: For the fact-checkers, the news reports today state that the shooter was killed by the police and did not kill himself, although one report claimed that he turned his gun on himself after being wounded by police. The young woman who was killed was an 18-year-old student. The 20 other wounded are being treated at area hospitals; six of the victims are still listed as “critical,” two of them extremely so.

6 Replies to “The morning after”

  1. Yeah. You do not want to look at the pictures the guy posted on his blog. Though, CNN is showing them extensively every hour on the hour (they’re actually giving the story more coverage since the photos emerged).

  2. Hi Maggie,
    I just want to add that the girl in question is Anastasia De Sousa and she is portuguese. This morning, portuguese speaking people who are, as I am , subscribed to the newspaper website got confirmation of this piece of information. By the way, A vox de Portugal means the voice from Portugal.

  3. Paula: one report I heard claimed that at least one of the guns was legally registered to him.
    TB: yick.
    Flora: Yes, I did hear her name earlier. I imagine your community is shocked by the news – as are we all. Thanks for the translation! Maybe by the end of the semester, you’ll have me speaking Portugese 😉

  4. I have never had to try to explain evil to my children, simply because I never had any children. I experienced evil firsthand, however, as a child, in part because I had been given only limited warnings: Don’t accept money, candy or rides from strangers. I didn’t know I might encounter people in supposedly safe places who who would be nice to children for the wrong reasons. I didn’t know that I had boundaries, let alone how to enforce them. I didn’t know about the “uh-oh” feeling.” And I didn’t know that some people let loose with violence against innocent people–or that not everyone defines “innocent people” in the same way.
    Maggie, if you and your “village” can manage the tightrope between preparing your children and making them downright paranoid; or the tightrope between reassuring them that they don’t need to be afraid and giving them a dangerous sense of false security, my hat is definitely off to you.
    Personally, I wish I had had the opportunity to learn some form of self-defense as a child, as that would have given me more self-confidence and made me less the quiet, compliant child that I was (which few people who know me now would believe I ever was!). That would not have protected me against bullets or bombs, but it would have raised my odds of survival in a number of scenarios.

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