I am friends with Lison’s sister. As today is the 42 anniversary of her unsolved murder, we should honour her.
17-year-old Lison Blais’ body was found by a stranger, Rudolf Pacesa, on June 04, 1978, in the alley behind her home, where she lived with her parents, at 4685 Christophe Colomb Street in Montréal. She was almost fully naked had been sexually assaulted with an object, hit in the head by a brick, and had strangulation marks on her neck. Her clothes and purse were not found.
She had been out with friends at le Bar Chez Philippe on St-Laurent boulevard in Montreal. She left the bar around 3:25am.
Blais’ murder was one of the most under-reported of that era, which makes this editorial from Le Devoir in the fall of 1978 all the more interesting. It’s written by Pierre Godin and the journaliste Micheline Lachance in reaction to an article Renee Rowan had written celebrating 10 years of activism of the feminist movement in Montreal. Rowan had been a fixture at Le Devoir, working along side male journalists in what at that time would have been considered a man’s profession.
Le Devoir was (is?) the most conservative of Quebec newspapers. Unlike the tabloids, Journal de Montreal or Allo Police, they would never stoop to report on crime and murder, and Godin and Lachance take Rowan to task for this:
“No doubt for you, Ms. Rowan, is it yellow or sensationalism to spread out in the public square the fate sometimes reserved for 15-year-old girls (17), like Lison Blais, who are raped and whose heads are smashed in the middle of the street? Your newspaper, madam, would not have stooped to mention such a news item.”
This speaks to the record that Le Devoir rarely reported female homicide related to domestic or sexual violence. They were too busy writing about high-minded notions of Quebec sovereigntism and nationalism. But it wasn’t just Le Devoir. As stated, Lison Blais’ 1978 death was one of the most under-reported murders of that era, as the appetite for such lurid stories slowly faded into the 1980s.
Also, as the story was written in September of 1978, and Godin and Lachance choose to single out a murder that occurred three months earlier, this speaks to the fact that it was a relatively quiet summer for murder in Montreal. The year before was a blood bath.