Marilyn Johnston, 30 Years Later

Carleton alumna Marilyn Johnston was an undergraduate student in engineering when the 1989 Montréal Massacre at l’École Polytechnique took place. This year marks the tragic day’s 30th anniversary. In response, universities across the country have submitted profiles of outstanding female engineers who graduated within three years of the massacre, and whose career exemplifies the value that women bring to the engineering profession and to society. The complete selection of profiles are viewable at

Marilyn Johnston recalls the exact moment she opened an envelope in 1993 that confirmed she would be the first recipient of the Canadian Engineering Memorial Fund (CEMF) Claudette MacKay-Lassonde Graduate Engineering Ambassador Award. The CEMF, founded by Claudette MacKay-Lassonde along with other concerned professional engineers, created the award in response to the killing of 14 women engineering students at l’École Polytechnique in 1989.

“It was very emotional, and I cried,” Johnston reflects. “I was so sad for the reason behind the award, and at the same time, I was extremely honoured to have been selected.”

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As our panellists reflected on the impacts that the Montreal Massacre had on women in engineering, they discussed the importance of women in leadership roles in making the engineering profession more diverse and inclusive. #December6 #OurActionsMatter

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Engineers Canada Board Director Sandra Gwozdz and CEMF's Julie Lassonde discuss how they felt being young engineering students in the wake of the tragic events.

30 years ago this week, 14 women were killed at Polytechnique Montréal's engineering school. Engineers Canada Board Director and 1991 Polytechnique grad Sandra Gwozdz reflects on her memories of that day.

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