Montreal #TousUnis for #Paris

Vigil Stands for Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité in Wake of Attacks in Paris

Pain, fear and anger reverberated through the crowd as thousands of people stood in silence in downtown Montreal on Saturday, grieving the loss of nearly 130 people in Paris Friday night.

“Paris is mourning, France is mourning, Montreal is mourning, Canada is mourning,” said French consul general Catherine Feuillet.

A gathering started at 3 p.m. Saturday in front of the French Consulate. McGill College Ave. was filled with people who came to show their support for the French nation after the attacks that took place in Paris on Friday Nov. 13.

“I needed to be with people today,” said Louis-Philippe Lampron, a law professor at Université Laval. “It’s a crime, it’s disgusting. I am sad and I am angry.”

French flags floated in the cold, crisp November wind alongside Quebec and Canadian flags. Montrealers too, were touched by the attacks that happened in the French capital.

Video by Matt D’Amours

“I am not here as a Quebecer,” said Lampron. This fight goes beyond religion or nation—it’s a cry for humanity, he added.

As of Saturday night, 129 individuals had lost their lives during the attacks that targeted two arrondissements of Paris and a close suburb. Among the 352 civilians injured, more than 80 are in critical condition.

The death toll from Friday’s attacks is the highest in France since October 1961 when Paris police massacred an estimated 200 Algerians peacefully marching in the city protesting the Algerian war of Independence.

French President François Holland was quick to call a state of emergency, which hasn’t been enacted since the “Paris Massacre” of 1961. The French borders were closed and the nation fell into despair.

A day after the attacks, people are trying to look ahead. People both in Paris and at the vigil in Montreal expressed the need to leave their homes and keep living.

“It’s about taking back the public sphere, occupying the space. We can’t give in to the fear,” said Lampron.

It’s estimated that as many as 100,000 French immigrants live in Montreal.

“I’m mostly wondering what’s next,” said Ophélie Martin, a McGill student who grew up in Marseille in the south of France and studied in Paris before moving to Montreal.

“We’re scared for our family that’s in France. We’re scared that there may be other attacks. We’re trying to stay positive, knowing that we can’t just stop living,” Martin said.

“It’s about taking back the public sphere, occupying the space. We can’t give in to the fear.” — Louis-Philippe Lampron, law professor at Université Laval

During the vigil, singer Geneviève Racette gave a rendition of John Lennon’s song “Imagine.” That same song was performed by German musician Klavierkunst in front of Bataclan in Paris Saturday afternoon. He had painted a peace sign on the tip of his grand piano. Bataclan is a concert hall in the 11th arrondissement that was targeted by the attacks.

Standing on a McGill College Ave. illuminated by glimmering lights, Marie Le Bel a student of French and Canadian nationality, was holding a sign that read “Paris Fort et Uni.”

“I’m here for myself, for my family and my friends that were scared yesterday,” she said. “I’m here to show that I’m not scared and that my country is strong and united.”

A couple of people who had just lit a candle and laid bouquets of roses wrote on the sign Le Bel was holding as proof that they too were there, and they too were in unison with #TousUnis #Paris.