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Remembering the Dawson tragedy 4 years later

October, 2010

September 13 marked the fourth anniversary of the Dawson shooting, the day Kimveer Gill took the life of Anastasia De Sousa and wounded 19 students and staff. Though spirits were high at an annual corn-roast September 15, students and staff had their own laments of the tragic event.

For Susie Wileman, a counsellor at the Accessibility Centre, it was a shock that weighs heavy on her heart.

“It should never have happened,” she says. “I find it particularly disturbing that the Conservative government is trying to get rid of the long-gun registry.”

First year students Celina Jones and Sharmi Mark remember the day vividly. “I was in Secondary III when it happened,” Jones says. “I was really shocked, but I came to Dawson anyway.”

For Mark, who went to school with De Sousa’s sister, there was always a sad reminder of the tragic day.

“I saw Anastasia’s sister everywhere after the shooting,” Mark says. “It was very scary. It was a tragic event, but it did not affect my decision to come to Dawson.”

Neither of the young women knew about the peace garden, which was established on the first anniversary to commemorate De Sousa’s life.

Richard Filion, director-general of Dawson College, is involved in the aftermath of the shooting.

“This was a terrible incident. It made me think of ways we can prevent these events from happening again,” he says. “My first and most constant thought is how education is the key to being sure these behaviours can be eradicated from our environment.” Filion is already planning for the five-year anniversary. “We’re aware that it will be a symbolic milestone,” Filion says. “We take our responsibilities seriously.”

The college will host an international conference next year on the role of education in preventing violence.

“We asked ourselves how we could include in the curriculum notions that will foster and are consistent with non-violence,” Filion says.

As for Dawson’s reputation four years later, Filion remains grounded: “If Dawson’s reputation is affected, it will be on the positive side,” he says. “We have been active in maintaining a high profile. The research that was done recently has received national coverage. It brings a positive note to Dawson; we are seen as being socially responsive.”

As for security of Dawson students and staff, Filion remains optimistic. “I said four years ago that this college would not be turned into a fortress. I still agree with what I said,” says Filion. “We prevented the worst from happening. The chief of security was very instrumental in preventing what could have been a massacre.

“You never know when lightning will strike. All we can do is be ready to respond rapidly.”

Janie De Jeu is a Dawson student studying Creative Arts.



At October 19, 2010 at 2:43 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go Janie!


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