Even today, it’s hard to comprehend what happened that day. I was a young reporter working on a West Coast newspaper when the first bulletins started coming in. A man with a gun…a campus in Montreal…there were bodies…. It was December 6, 1989, less than three weeks to Christmas, and one of the defining images the next day, in the stunned aftermath, was of a custodian at École Polytechnique removing decorations as a body lay slumped in a chair.
But, along with the passing of time, there is another way to deal with the massacre that tragically ended 14 promising young lives. And that is to honour the memory of those women by carrying on their journey and their passion for science and learning. As we near the 25th anniversary of remembrance, École Polytechnique is doing just that – by taking another defining image from this tragic event and attaching it to the same hope and promise felt by Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Nathalie Croteau and the 11 other women killed that day.
Polytechnique Montréal is announcing the Order of the White Rose and the Week of the White Rose – taking advantage of a flower that has become a symbol of remembrance. Both initiatives are designed to encourage young women and girls to develop their passion for science.
The Polytechnique Montréal Order of the White Rose is a $30,000 scholarship that will be awarded annually to a Canadian student to support her graduate studies – wherever her studies take her, be it in Canada or anyplace else in a world that will be hard-pressed to contain the aspirant’s ambition.
Polytechnique Montréal will also initiate the Week of the White Rose as part of an ongoing fundraising campaign. Donors will be encouraged to buy “virtual” white roses and bestow them upon any recipient they choose. All proceeds will go to Folie Technique, the university’s science camp, where girls from underprivileged communities can take part in science day camps, clubs and activities. The Week of the White Rose will be held the week prior to December 6 but you can donate any time on the website at whiteroseweek.org
What happened that day was heartbreaking and deeply disturbing, but it was also galvanizing. These initiatives help us deal with that darkness while encouraging the inheritors of the victims’ aspirations. The benefactors of these initiatives likely weren’t yet born when death stalked the corridors of École Polytechnique, but the white rose and what it symbolizes impart hope and healing – 25 years later.
The Fashion Blows exhibit runs until November 1 at The Room at Hudson’s Bay on Queen Street in Toronto. Photo: Courtesy Hudson’s Bay
If you haven’t made it down to the Fashion Blows exhibit at the The Room at Hudson’s Bay on Queen Street in Toronto, you’re missing out on experiencing a slice of fashion history. The free exhibit, which was created by Hudson’s Bay and The Isabella Blow Foundation, showcases 55 pieces from the famed fashion director’s collection. It’s a rare chance to see iconic work from Alexander McQueen, Dior, Galliano and Deborah Milner.
There are also 15 fantastical hats from Blow’s long-time friend Philip Treacy. Last week, Treacy and fellow designer Daphne Guinness attended the gala dinner held at The Room. Funds raised will be used to send a Canadian fashion student to London’s famous Central Saint Martins College as well as support programs at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).
In a touching tribute to his friend and muse, Treacy recalled meeting Blow in the 1980s and being struck immediately by her attire. “Most women who worked at magazine offices wore pearls. Isabella was wearing a transparent cobweb top with a skirt and high-heeled Manolo Blahnik shoes—she looked completely different from everyone else.” The pair were entwined in each other’s lives from the moment Blow asked Treacy to design hats for her wedding. “I was expecting a bride in white, but it soon became very clear that for someone like Isabella, this wouldn’t be a traditional dress,” laughed Treacy.
What did Blow say when someone questioned why she chose a student hat maker for her wedding? Read more…
Canadian women are a little obsessed with their winter jackets because it’s the one piece of clothing that most defines our outdoor style for five to six months of the year. So, it’s not unusual for there to be more than one of them hanging in our closets. If you’re doing an inventory—and want to pare down—here’s a way to do a good deed at the same time.
Consider giving one of your coats a second life by donating it to the annual Lolë Yellow Label campaign. During the drive, which runs from October 1 to December 1, you can drop off jackets that are less than five years old, clean and in good shape at participating stores. (You’ll receive a gift card for $50 off the purchase of any Lolë jacket worth more than $180.) The donated jackets will be sold for between $10 and $50 at “pop-up” sales at the Maisonneuve Market in Montreal on November 21, 22 and 23 and at the Brooklyn Flea Market in New York on November 22 and 23. Proceeds will go to Moisson Montreal, Food Banks Canada and, in the U.S., Ample Harvest. Before you donate your coat, organizers want you to take a photo and share why you loved it using the hashtag #LoleYellowLabel.
I dropped off this jacket at the Lolë store in Yorkville in Toronto. There’s nothing like a cozy puffy jacket to make you feel you can cope with whatever nastiness the polar vortex may throw your way.
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