Friends, family show support for Quebecers killed in Burkina Faso
Published Sunday, January 17, 2016 11:12AM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 18, 2016 7:36AM EST
Four members of one family and two family friends are the six people from Quebec who were killed in the terrorist attack in Burkina Faso.
The family has been identified as retired teacher Yves Carrier, his daughter Maude, his wife Gladys Chamberland and their son Charlelie. Maude is a teacher with two young daughters. Gladys Chamberlain was reported to be a provincial civil servant and Charlelie, nicknamed Chop, was a student and counsellor at an outdoor camp.
They were from Lac Beauport in the Quebec City area.
A Quebec City-area school, Jean de Brebeuf, identified the fifth victim as Louis Chabot, a former teacher at the school. Reports say Suzanne Bernier was the sixth victim. Both were friends of the family.
The group had visited the West African nation for three weeks to help build a school. Three were set to return Saturday, while the other three would return next week, reports say.
The group was working with the religious organization Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, as well as the group Centre Amitié de solidarité internationale de la région des Appalaches.
Lac Beauport Mayor Louise Brunet told CTV Montreal that the town, 25 kilometres north of the capital, is in shock. Brunet characterized the victims as very involved in the community. She said the town is flying its flags at half-mast. Community members will be meeting Monday to discuss what they can do in the coming days to honour the six victims.
"We are a little community and everyone known everyone almost here, so I think it’s really hard for people," she said.
"It’s unbearable when you have such people, so kind, so generous and something like that occurs it’s really unbearable for me and most of the people (here). We think terrorism is really far away but it can be really close also."
Brunet said while she didn't know the victims personally, she knew they "were really generous people and always happy people and always ready to do something for others."
Community members confirmed the family had organized several fundraisers ahead of their trip.
Karine Paquet, who has been friends with Maude Carrier since high school, said her close friend seemed emotional over the phone the night before she left for Africa.
"It was painful for her to leave her two little daughters to go there, but at the same time she knew she would live an extraordinary experience," she said.
She said volunteering for a humanitarian mission was in keeping with her friend's generous personality and love of helping others.
"I never knew someone who didn't love Maude," she said. "She had a beautiful soul, a marvellous generosity, she knew how to welcome people, she was respectful and loving... the most beautiful person I ever met."
A school board in Quebec City said four of the six victims were current or retired teachers in the Quebec City area.
"The commission scholaire de la Capitale learned with dismay of the death of two members of our teaching staff as well as two retired principals in the attacks Friday in Burkina Faso," it wrote on its Facebook page.
The Quebecers were among at least 28 people of 18 nationalities who died and 56 others wounded when terrorists stormed the luxury Splendid Hotel and nearby Cappuccino Cafe in the capital Ouagadougou late Friday.
The attack ended when security forces moved in killing four terrorists -- authorities said two of the attackers were women.
The federal government did not reveal the identities of the Canadians killed citing privacy laws, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement Saturday condemning the attack.
The Quebec government also confirmed that all of the victims were from the province.
In a speech on Sunday, Trudeau called for a moment of silence in solidarity with the victims' families, who, he said, "are suffering an unspeakable and tragic loss."
"Yesterday we got some terrible news from Africa," Trudeau said while speaking at an Ontario mosque. "Six of our fellow citizens were murdered in a brutal act of violent terrorism in Burkina Faso."
In a statement on Saturday, the Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard's office said, "Nothing can explain such acts of cowardice," adding, "These heinous acts remind us that we must never compromise on our values of freedom, democracy and tolerance."
An al-Qaida affiliate known as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for the attack that ended early Saturday.
‘A quiet country’
Patrick Gagnon, a Canadian who has lived in the West African country for four years, said he was shocked by the violent attack.
"I mean it happened in (Mali) … but we never expected that to happen in Burkina Faso," Gagnon told CTV News Channel on Sunday.
"It is kind of a quiet country."
Gagnon originally went to the country as part of a humanitarian mission, but now works in the mining business.
He said that his office in Ouagadougoo is 100 metres from the Splendid Hotel, where he often brings his clients from abroad.
"This hotel has lots of Canadian people or European people that I bring to sleep there," he said. "So, I know this place by heart."
At least some of the victims had also visited Burkina Faso in 2013, as is evidenced by a Facebook page, as well as videos of them in the country.
With files from The Canadian Press and CTV.ca News Staff