September 13th, 2006: A day that changed Dawson and Montreal forever. Tomorrow marks the 10 year anniversary of the Dawson shooting. This tragic event has not been forgotten by those who lived through the horrors nor has it been forgotten by the rest of Montreal. I'm sure that over the past few weeks you have been seeing old newspaper stories and posts commemorating this unforgettable day. However, many of us were very young, I was only eight when the tragedy took place. This may not seem like such a large deal to all or maybe some are too afraid to ask, but this is why it is such a big deal in Montreal's history.
So, before you jump to any judgments, and think that what occurred at Dawson was unlucky chance and that it won't happen to you, please read below and become informed. This is the third mass shooting that Montreal schools have seen to date and we need to prevent further tragedies.
The Basic Breakdown
Ten years ago from tomorrow on September 13th, 2006, just 3 weeks into the new semester, a 25-year-old Laval male named Kimveer Gill killed one woman and wounded 19 others inside of Dawson College, eight of whom were in critical condition. This random shooting is very pertinent in today's society because it shows just how much everyone is subjected to a random act of violence at any time. He fired a total of 72 times with a semi-automatic rifle and six times with a handgun.
Photo cred - News GD
What Happened Exactly?
The events of September 13th, 2006 played out like this:
- 12:30: Shooter exits his car and makes his was towards Dawson College.
- 12:41: First shots fired outside of the main entrance of Dawson on De Maisonneuve.
- 12:44: Nearby officers rush to the scene.
- 12:42–12:48: Gunman opens fire on students in the cafeteria and kills Anastasia De Sousa with several shots. Police who were on an undercover unrelated mission in the school shoot him in the arm, the gunman kills himself with one shot to the head, a suicide note was later found in his pocket.
- 1:30: Killer's body is dragged outside and covered, the police and S.W.A.T continued the evacuation of teachers, students, and workers in Dawson and in Alexis Nihon. They also searched for any possible accomplices.
The Victim, Anastasia De Sousa
Anastasia De Sousa was a first-year business student attending Dawson College who was shot several times by the gunman. Anastasia had no connection with the gunman who put a bullseye on her, she was simply going to school. Anastasia passed away on the scene 10 years ago, but she will never be forgotten. Her mother and close family members come to Dawson every year to commemorate this beautiful young woman's life. Her mother planted a tree in Dawson's peace garden in memory of her daughter and tomorrow at 11am there will be a remembrance ceremony at that same location to mark the ten year anniversary of the tragedy.
The Initial Impact & Reactions
An event of such great magnitude such as the Dawson shooting was shocking to many. The initial reactions for many was to attempt and call their family to make sure that they were safe. However, a majority of people within the Dawson area could not make any calls due to the large amount of incoming and outgoing calls which caused the servers to be blocked.
The shooting impacted Dawson greatly and the school was closed for several days. The main priority was to help those victims who were in need of psychological care. Once Dawson finally re-opened, students returned and were greeted by social workers who were there to help in any way that they could.
The shock and horrors of September 13th, 2006 are still felt by its victims, especially of the De Sousa family. The initial impact of the Dawson shooting brought the community together and their first reaction was to commemorate Anastasia De Sousa. Security increased and locks were placed on doors but the horrors still live in the halls of Dawson and will never be forgotten.
Flowers placed at the Dawson entrance for the death of Anastasia days after the tragedy.
Photo cred - CTV News
Why It's Still Relevant And Why You Should Still Care
The Dawson shooting was Montreal's third mass shooting. The first being the Polytechnique massacre in 1989 and the deadly rampage by professor Valery Fabrikant that left four dead at Concordia in 1992. Montreal is no stranger to horrible events and each of these events are still relevant today in society.
The Dawson shooting is so relevant because it shows just how fast a life can be taken away for no purpose and at any moment in time. The Dawson shooting was random and has affected the lives of all the 10,000 students, teachers, and workers who were there for the tragedy, and still affects the 10,000 students, teachers, and workers attending Dawson today.
We should still care because the life of one Dawson students represents the life of all Dawson students. The Dawson community will never forget what happened and neither should all of Montreal and the world because this tragic event could have happened to anyone and anywhere.
Anastasia De Sousa's peace tree planted in her honor (covered in pink ribbon because pink was her favorite color)
Photo cred - Vancouver Sun
We should also continue to care in order to keep schools as a place of learning. Schools should be safe environments and in order for us to continue to increase our security measures, we must go back to these tragic events and try to prevent them from happening again.
In fact, right now the guns that gunman Kimveer Gill used to purposely harm and kill the people of Dawson, are more accessible than ever! The semi-automatic rifle is now legal to buy and own in Canada. Anastasia's mother continues to try and restrict the usage of such guns with gun control advocates but the accessibility of guns in Canada continues to grow despite their efforts. We should continue to care for the future safety as students attending Dawson today, and for future students, teachers, and workers.
Louise De Sousa, mother of Anastasia De Sousa, Suzanne Laplante-Edward and Jim Edward, parents of Polytechnique victim Anne-Marie Edward, advocated for stricter gun controls in Ottawa. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)
Photo cred - CBC News
In loving memory of Anastasia De Sousa, you will never be forgotten.
Nelson and Louise De Sousa, parents of Anastasia De Sousa, attend memorial ceremony at Dawson College
Photo cred- CTV News