Dawson College Shooting Survivors Celebrate 15th Anniversary of 2006 Tragedy | The Canadian News

Louise and Nelson de Sousa paid a grim visit to the Peace Garden at Dawson College on Monday, 15 years after the day their 18-year-old daughter Anastasia was killed during the Dawson College mass shooting.

“Where would he have been today and what would he be doing?” De Sousa’s mother said. “Would we have been grandparents?”

The space was created to honor those affected by the shooting that killed Anastasia and injured more than 15 people on September 13, 2006. That day, a lone gunman entered Dawson with a pistol and rifle and opened fire.

Meaghan Hennegan survived the shooting that day and is now 33 years old and the mother of one. She says the physical and mental pain has lessened over the years, but the anniversary will always be difficult.

“It’s still very sad, but at the same time, you know, every year I can see where I am now and be really proud of it,” Hennegan told Global News.

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Like last year, there was no formal memorial due to COVID-19. People were invited to visit the garden and pay their respects in their spare time.

“We decided to step back this year and watch quietly, and we made the decision with full consultation from the De Sousa family,” explained Dawson College spokeswoman Donna Varrica.

The current students descended into the garden to look at De Sousa’s photo and reflect on what happened. Some were just young children at the time of the shooting.

“The first thing I noticed was how beautiful she was and how young she was. He was basically our age, ”said Juliette Houle, a Dawson student.

De Sousa’s father commented on how quickly the years had passed.

“It is a very emotional day. We don’t know where the time went, ”Nelson de Sousa said.

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Meanwhile, as they have done repeatedly over a decade and a half, Hennegan and his mother Kathleen Dow-Dixon used the bleak anniversary to call for stricter gun control in Canada.

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Many assault weapons are now prohibited, but at the time, the shooter obtained his legally.

“There is no reason why someone needs to own a weapon like that. If you are a hunter, you are not going to use a Beretta CX4 storm to shoot a deer. It’s an exaggeration, ”Hennegan said, speaking of one of the weapons Dawson’s shooter used.

The couple are asking Canadians to vote for the Liberal Party or Bloc Quebecois, saying they are stronger on gun control.

“If you care about strengthening and maintaining gun control laws in this country, then the Conservative Party is not the party you want to vote for,” said Dow-Dixon, who was in college with her daughter at the time and said bullets passed through her jacket and purse.

With in-person learning again, the university once began using the Garden of Peace as a classroom, honoring the teenager whose education here was abruptly interrupted.

Click to play video: 'École Polytechnique, Dawson Shooting Survivors Back Federal Liberals'

École Polytechnique, Dawson Shooting Survivors Back Federal Liberals

École Polytechnique, Dawson Shooting Survivors Back Federal Liberals

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