Thursday, December 3, 2020
PolySeSouvient and the Ongoing Efforts to Protect and Prevent followed by a Commemoration honouring the lives lost on December 6th 1989
Time: 12-1pm (please arrive a few minutes early)
The MCW is pleased to welcome Heidi Rathjen of PolySeSouvient who will present an update on the work of the group she formed in the wake of the Polytechnique de Montréal now 31 years ago. She will also provide us with insights into the current efforts of the Coalition for Gun Control. Following her presentation and a Q & A she will be joined by fellow survivor Dr Marie-Josée Potvin. Together we will honour the fourteen women killed 31 years ago.
About Our Speakers
Heidi Rathjen obtained a bachelor's degree in civil engineering in 1990 from the École Polytechnique in Montréal. But instead of pursuing her career in engineering, she embarked on a fight for stronger gun control — easy access to firearms being a contributing factor in the December 6th 1989 massacre at her university. She co-founded (with Wendy Cukier) the Coalition for Gun Control and acted as its Executive director until 1996, that is, after having obtained a comprehensive set of federal gun control measures.
She maintains her commitment to stricter gun control by volunteering as a spokesperson and principal organizer of PolySeSouvient, a group of Polytechnique graduates and students that work with families of victims to protect our gun control laws from the unrelenting pressures of the gun lobby. PolySeSouvient lead the campaign to secure the registration of all firearms in Quebec after having lost the measure at the federal level under the Harper government, as well as the recent ban on assault weapons.
In 1996, Heidi co-founded the Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control (with Louis Gauvin) and has been its co-director ever since. The Quebec Coalition has successfully advocated for a range of tobacco control measures, including bans on advertising, smoking in public places and tobacco products displays, as well as other measures such as tax increases and health warnings. It has led numerous mobilization campaigns, included those leading to the adoption of the Quebec Tobacco Act in 1998 and its reinforcement in 2005 and in 2015.
Heidi has received numerous awards for her advocacy work, including an honorary doctorate in law (Concordia University), an honorary doctorate in medicine (University of Laval), the Prix de la Justice du Québec, the World Health Organization’s 1999 Tobacco Free World Award and a medal from both the Quebec National Assembly and the Senate of Canada.
Dr. Marie-Josée Potvin
Dr. Marie-Josée Potvin works as senior system engineer and the manager of the Engineer Development Program at the Canadian Space Agency. She was at Polytechnique on December 6th, 1989. She went through 15 years of recurring nightmares, before she finally decided to seek help and put an end to them. Nowadays, apart from her work and caring for her youngest son who has a neurodegenerative disease, Dr. Potvin finds joy in trying to improve her community. She is a scout leader, welcoming children with special needs within her group, and using that position to teach leadership to a few young adults with mild intellectual deficiencies. She is the coordinator of the Support Group for Parents of Children with Special Needs of the Canadian Space Agency, and she is currently setting up an activity group for young adults with debilitating epilepsy to break their isolation.