McMaster campus memorials provide quiet places to reflect

Photo courtesy of McMaster Anti-Violence Network

A rose garden. Three white pine trees. An engraved stone with 14 names.

No matter the form, the focus of McMaster’s five campus memorials is clear: to remember. To educate. To tell a story, no matter how sad.

Here are their stories.

Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women Memorial

Location: Plaque and three white pine trees, Sterling St. entrance.

Purpose: In remembrance of murdered and missing Indigenous women across Canada.

Dedication date: December 6, 2016.

Initiated by: McMaster Anti-Violence Network.

Inscription on plaque readsIn honour of our missing and murdered Indigenous mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, aunties, nieces, cousins, partners, and friends. Your families, communities and nations will tell your stories.”

Montreal Massacre Commemorative Stone

Location: Commemorative stone in front of the John Hodgins Engineering Building (JHE).

Purpose: To commemorate the 14 female engineering students who were shot and killed by a gunman at l’École Polytechnique in Montreal on December 6, 1989.

Dedication date: December 6, 1990, at the one-year anniversary of the massacre.

Initiated by: The McMaster Engineering Society.

Inscription on plaque readsThe engineering community at McMaster University remembers the following: Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Marie Klucznik, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte. Who lost their lives on December 6th, 1989 at École Polytechnique, Montreal.

Nina de Villiers Rose Garden

Location: Rose garden in front of University Hall.

Purpose: On August 9, 1991, Nina de Villiers was abducted and murdered while jogging in Burlington by a man with a long history of violence. The rose garden and commemorative stone were placed in memory of de Villiers, who was a McMaster student, in 1993. It is a tribute to Nina and others whose tragic and untimely deaths have touched the hearts of the McMaster community.

Dedication date: September 15, 1993

Initiated by: McMaster and Priscilla de Villiers, Nina’s mother.

Inscription readsThe Nina de Villiers Garden. Dedicated on September 15, 1993 to Nina de Villiers, McMaster student 1990-91. A joint effort of McMaster University, McMaster Students Union and many friends, this garden is a symbol of our commitment to harmony and respect of all. As the garden renews itself, let it remind us of what we can do to make the world a better place. 

Joan Heimbecker Memorial

Location: Plaque/photograph in lobby of Ivor Wynne Centre, and a tree, rock and bench in front of Bates Residence.

Purpose: In remembrance of Joan Heimbecker (1968-1994) who was a graduate student in the department of kinesiology and was a victim of domestic violence on campus. In addition to the plaque and photograph, there is an annual charity hockey game and a memorial scholarship.

Dedication date: 1994.

Inscription readsIn memory of Joan Elizabeth Heimbecker, September 21, 1968-March 30, 1994.

Student Memorial Garden

Location: Raised circle garden outside McMaster University Student Centre east entrance.

Purpose: In remembrance of those students who have passed away during their time at McMaster. The garden holds a stone bearing an inscription commemorating students who have died.

Dedication date: February 13, 2003.

Initiated by: Adam Spence, MSU vice-president Education (2002-2003).

Inscription readsDedicated on December 12, 2002. In loving memory of all students who have passed away during their time at McMaster. As each seed grows, a recollection is placed within each of us. Our hearts have been touched by your warmth. You have helped us grow. And in your memory, we remain grateful you came into your lives.

A commemorative event for the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women recognizing Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women will be held tomorrow from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Community Room (1003) in L.R. Wilson Hall.

Throughout the day, posters honouring Missing on Murdered Indigenous Women will be on display in the Ceremonial Room of the Indigenous Studies program (L.R. Wilson Hall). Red dresses will be hung from trees around campus.

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