"You're all a bunch of feminists, and I hate feminists!"

These were some of the last words spoken by college dropout Marc Lepine before he launched a bloody killing spree at École Polytechnique in Montreal in Canada on a chilly December day in 1989.

His hate-filled rampage left 14 women dead, and to this day it is still the worst mass shooting in Canada's history.

But despite the gunman's obvious motive – a loathing of women so intense he was compelled to butcher 14 of them before turning the gun on himself – it has never been officially acknowledged as a specific attack against females. Until now.

Advertisement

And while the shooting is still one of the most chilling and bloody the world has ever seen, it has all but been forgotten by most people outside of Canada.

MONTREAL MASSACRE

The 25-year-old carried out his attack in the afternoon of December 6, exactly 30 years ago this month, by storming a mechanical engineering classroom, gun and knife in hand, and declaring he was "fighting feminism".

He ordered the men and women of the group of 60-odd students into opposite sides of the room before telling the male students to leave.

One student, Nathalie Provost, tried to reason with him, famously arguing: "Listen, we are only women who are studying engineering … We were only women in engineering who wanted to live a normal life".

But Lepine opened fire anyway, killing six young women instantly and wounding three others including Provost who "played dead" to survive.

But the bloodshed wasn't over.

The gunman then moved through the campus's corridors, a cafeteria and another classroom, killing another eight women along the way and injuring others in a 20-minute reign of terror before shooting himself.

In the end, 12 female engineering students were killed, including 20-year-old Annie Turcotte, 21-year-olds Anne-Marie Edward, Michèle Richard and Geneviève Bergeron, 22-year-olds Barbara Daigneault and Anne-Marie Lemay, 23-year-olds Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Maryse Leclair and Annie St-Arneault, 28-year-old Sonia Pelletier and 29-year-old Maud Haviernick.

Advertisement
The Montreal Massacre victims. Photo / Supplied
The Montreal Massacre victims. Photo / Supplied

Staff member Maryse Laganière, 25, was also killed along with 31-year-old nursing student Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz.

Another 10 women were injured in the attack, along with four men.

Authorities and reporters descended on the scene, and in a tragic twist, Montreal Police director of public relations Pierre Leclair conducted a media briefing outside the school before entering the building, and finding the body of his daughter Maryse – who had been shot and stabbed – inside.

AFTERMATH

Attention soon turned to the male survivors of the attack, with members of the public and even some reporters questioning why the male students obeyed Lepine's request to leave the women alone instead of intervening.

It has been widely reported that survivors suffered a rage of physical, mental and emotional problems in the aftermath, with feelings of guilt a common theme.

In fact, according to the Montreal Gazette, a number of students took their own lives following the tragedy, with "at least two left notes naming the massacre as the reason".

SUICIDE LETTER

The shooter had a suicide note in his pocket that day, but while police publicly revealed some details it contained, the full version was not released.

But a year later, a copy of his manifesto was leaked to prominent journalist Francine Pelletier, who worked at the newspaper La Presse.

It included a list of 19 women Lepine also planned to kill as he considered them to be feminists – including Pelletier herself.

La Presse ended up publishing the letter in its original French, and it revealed Lepine blamed women for his own dissatisfaction.

" … I have decided to send the feminists, who have always ruined my life, to their Maker," he wrote.

" … the feminists have always enraged me. They want to keep the advantages of women (eg cheaper insurance, extended maternity leave …) while seizing for themselves those of men.

"They are so opportunistic the (do not) neglect to profit from the knowledge accumulated by men through the ages."

It later emerged Lepine was particularly enraged by women working in traditionally male careers – like engineering – as he feared they were taking jobs from men.

But despite the shooter's obvious motive, it was downplayed by the authorities and most of the Canadian media for decades due to fears it could spark further hate crimes and attacks against women.

30 YEARS ON

Three decades on, the City of Montreal has only just recognised the massacre as an "anti-feminist act", updating a plaque in a memorial park that until recently described the massacre as a "tragic event" and failed the mention the gender of all victims, according to the Globe and Mail.

This month, it was finally changed to refer to an "anti-feminist attack" that killed 14 women.

Canadian people put papers that bear the names of the victims' names as people take part in a ceremony at the memorial park to mark the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. Photo / Getty Images
Canadian people put papers that bear the names of the victims' names as people take part in a ceremony at the memorial park to mark the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. Photo / Getty Images

It was a move welcomed by victims' families and survivors alike, although many wondered why it took 30 long years for the brutal truth to be officially acknowledged.