MHWSS executive director Natasha Carvalho said the event not only commemorates those who lost their lives due to gender-based violence, but it served as an opportunity to discuss violence that women continue to face.
"Most women are able to survive the violence against them but every six days one woman in Canada is murdered by a man who said he loved her", Brown said.
In Montreal, a wreath of white roses will be placed at the commemorative plaque at the school where the shooting occurred. Women are also more likely than men to be victims of spousal abuse, homicide or sexual assault.
She sees the award as a way to both honour their memories and celebrate the progress that has been made since then.
The two dozen or so people who attended the brief outdoor ceremony stood in silence, some wiping away tears as they remembered the Montreal Massacre, when a gunman shot the 14 women to death and injured 14 other people on December 6, 1989.
While working conditions may have improved, Thomson says she's aware women remain in the minority in the science and tech fields.
Thomson, who is now studying for a PhD at Stanford University in California, says she hopes to mentor young girls who want to enter the technical fields as a way of closing that gap.
"Am I optimistic about where things are with gender-based violence right now?"
The award was given out days ahead of the 28th anniversary of the Polytechnique massacre on December 6.
This year, alongside the mayor of Montreal will be Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and Quebec's deputy premiere Dominique Anglade, who will be visiting for the memorial service. Today we honour and remember the victims of this atrocious crime.
Women's shelter staff also led the group in holding a minute of silence for the victims.