Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
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This article was published 11/12/2017 (1012 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Ella Thomson wasn’t born when the massacre at Polytechnique Montréal occurred in 1989, but she has now been touched by the tragic story in more ways than one.
The 21-year-old St. Vital native is the third recipient of Polytechnique Montréal’s Order of the White Rose Scholarship, which is awarded annually to a Canadian Woman engineering student who wishes to continue her engineering studies at the master’s or doctoral level.
The $30,000 scholarship was created three years ago to honour the victims of the tragic shooting — which occurred on Dec. 6, 1989 and took the lives of 14 women — as part of the activities surrounding the 25th annual commemoration of the event. In terms of its criteria, officials say the scholarship not only recognizes the importance the school places on the contribution of women to engineering, but also encourages and rewards a young woman who stands out in that field.
Thomson, whose illustrious academic resume includes a Schulich Leader Scholarship and research into the role mitochondrial dysfunction in degenerative diseases conducted at St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre, has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Manitoba, and started a PhD at Stanford University in California in September.
"It’s a huge honour to get this scholarship," said Thomson, who was speaking to The Lance from Montreal days after an official ceremony on Dec. 1. "It’s been really exciting, and I’m especially honoured to have been there for the ceremony."
Among those attending the ceremony was Nathalie Provost, a Polytechnique graduate who was shot four times in the massacre, and is considered the "Godmother" of the Order of the White Rose, according to officials.
Thomson said while there is still some way to go for women to achieve parity with their male counterparts in the engineering field, the status quo has improved to some degree in the last three decades.
"It’s important to have the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women in the engineering field and how conditions and inequality have improved in the last 28 years," Thomson said.
‘When I was there, the quota of women studying engineering was about 20 per cent, so there is room for more improvement, but it’s good that women studying in the field are now getting more recognition."
At the recent ceremony, the Balmoral Hall School alumna had the chance to meet Provost and others directly involved with the tragedy, and she was touched and humbled by the experience.
"I had the opportunity to meet women who were involved with the massacre, and the community is still obviously affected by the tragedy in so many ways. It was amazing to hear the different speeches and I will use some of things I heard as inspiration," Thomson said.
"It feels really special to be one of three recipients of the Order of the White Rose Scholarship, and I’m extremely excited to see who will be awarded it in the future."
Go online at www.polymtl.ca/ordreroseblanche/en for more information.
Community journalist — The Lance
Simon Fuller is the community journalist for The Lance. Email him at email@example.com Call him at 204-697-7111
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