12/06/2014 02:33 EST | Updated 02/05/2015 05:59 EST

Polytechnique shooting: CBC journalist Loreen Pindera remembers

I had moved to Montreal just three months earlier. I had never before been on the University of Montreal campus. I thought I was being sent to cover a fire.  

A young male engineering student standing outside the building told me, in French, that a man had burst into his classroom.

"He separated the men from the women," the young man told me. I shook my head, asked again. I thought I wasn't understanding his French.

It took a few minutes to grasp what he'd actually said.  

It's taken a lifetime to digest what actually happened. 

On mobile? Listen to Loreen's World Report piece from Dec. 7, 1989