Mother speaks out 20 years after Montreal massacre
By Marg Buchanan | Tuesday, November 24, 2009
At age 71 Monique Lepine says God has helped her find purpose and contentment.
MONTREAL, ONOn December 6, 1989, Marc LÚpine entered a classroom at the Polytechnique in Montreal, separated the men from the women and opened fire. Before he turned his weapon on himself, he had killed 14 young women.
On the 20th anniversary of the Montreal massacre, Monique LÚpine speaks the names of those women out loud in their memory. The name of their killer is engraved in her heart. Marc LÚpine was her son.
Monique LÚpine was on her way out the door to prayer meeting when she heard the shocking news on the television: mass murder at the Polytechnique. She felt herself deeply moved for the families of the victims and, more particularly, for the mother of the perpetrator. She asked her group to pray for that woman, whoever and wherever she might be.
It would be another 24 hours before the police arrived at her office at the end of an off-site training day to tell her she was that woman.
"I did not believe it," she says. "I went into shock. I couldn't feel anything. They took me away to interrogate me like a criminal."
Gradually, her emotions came back and overwhelmed her: shame, guilt, fear and anger. "Especially shame," says LÚpine.
Her small church family stood by her as she buried her son in secret and began the long journey through the valley of her suffering, quietly sobbing through every service.
When her daughter committed suicide by a drug overdose seven years later, she felt herself break "into a thousand pieces."
It was during a church service that she says she felt her body give out under the weight of her grief. "I told the woman beside me not to pick me up if I fell. I was dying," she says. "Then I heard the voice of God ask me, 'Who makes your heart beat?' He gave me the choiceto die or to live. I chose life."
LÚpine continued to work and live anonymously. She began attending a different church where she could find counselling for the emotional healing she needed and opportunities to give back by serving in the food bank.
In December 2002, her pastor asked her to give her testimony to the congregation of 2,000. "We were sitting on the platform while he interviewed me," she says. "Then I stood up. It was unexpected. And I said my name: 'I am Monique LÚpine.' At that moment I claimed a new identity. The shame and guilt were gone. I have my own life to live."
A period of reconstruction began, as LÚpine developed significant friendships and allowed herself to rediscover some of the little pleasures of life.
But when a gunman entered Dawson College in Montreal in September 2006 and killed a female student, her private, protected bubble burst wide open. "I was devastated. I cried out to God to take me home, or to give meaning to my life," she says.
The next day, after 17 years of silence, LÚpine finally went public with her story. She began granting interviews and now, together with a journalist, she has written a book about herself, her children, the Montreal massacre and the God who heals and restores.
"I live my life to glorify God," she says, "and to help other people through their suffering."
Using the Scriptures as her foundation, LÚpine leads group encounters for emotional healing and counsels one on one. She has spoken in universities and churches. She is involved in the restorative justice program in the federal prison. She uses every opportunity to speak of the compassion and power of God.
At the age of 71, LÚpine says she is finding purpose and contentment.
"God is doing more than I ever could have imagined," she says. "And I get the feeling it's not over yet."
LÚpine's book, Aftermath, is available at bookstores and online.