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Québec, January 18, 2016 Notes for a speech by Québec Premier Philippe Couillard about Bombings in Jakarta and Ouagadougou

The spoken version takes precedence.

They were Quebecers, citizens of the world, like those from Bamako, Jakarta, Paris, Istanbul and Saint-Jean, to mention but a few. 

They were loved and appreciated by everyone, their families, friends and co-workers.

Like all of us, they loved life. 

And as is the case for all victims of terrorism, nothing can justify their cruel fate.

***

We are living on a troubled planet, one that is also smaller. Everything is now so close to us.

All of us are aware that this barbaric violence that used to seem so remote can now also affect Québec, that we are not isolated from terrorism because we live in a democratic, open, society that displays greater solidarity. Worse still, we are aware that these characteristics are some of the targets that the assassins wish to strike. 

***

Let us talk about the victims and let us think about them:

Tahar Amer-Ouali from Laval was the father of five children and a grandfather. He was an audioprosthetist and a seasoned climber. He liked to travel and to help those in need. He was in Jakarta, Indonesia, a city that he adored.

***

A group of Quebecers undertook a month-long humanitarian trip to Burkina Faso. 

Louis Chabot, a father of three children and a native of Albertville in the Matapédia area, was a teacher. His loved ones described him as a truly fine fellow who was always willing to lend a hand.

Suzanne Bernier, a mother of three children, had engaged in other humanitarian experiences. A retired teacher, her dedication to the most disadvantaged was well known to her loved ones.

Yves Carrier was also a retired teacher, a generous man widely respected in his community.
 
His wife, Gladys Chamberland, worked for the Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles, was a volunteer through and through, a smiling, enthusiastic woman. 

Their son Charlélie was a student and worked with young people at Le Saisonnier, an outdoor centre at Lac-Beauport in Québec City. Everyone appreciated him.

His half-sister, Maude Carrier, was also a teacher and the mother of two children. She shared her experiences with her friends on the social networks, including her arrival in the village of Kongoussi or the activities that she was about to undertake. 

In a letter dated November 1, 2015, Ms. Chamberland described the project thus:

“In December, six of us will leave for a humanitarian trip lasting just over one month to Burkina Faso. We are going there to carry out certain projects in response to the needs indicated by our acquaintances there, mainly members of religious communities that we met during two previous trips.”

Let us take the time to focus on the details of the project that Ms. Chamberland provided:

  • the rebuilding of a dormitory and the drilling of a vital well for school students;
  • the outfitting of a sports ground; 
  • the renovation and reconstruction of a building belonging to the nuns in Mani, a town in northeastern Burkina Faso ;
  • sponsorship and direct assistance to the most disadvantaged;
  • financial participation to help the women in a village start up a soap factory.

They were sponsored by the Centre Amitié de Solidarité Internationale de la Région des Appalaches (CASIRA).

As Ms. Chamberland herself noted, it was a fine project.

Their commitment to the most disadvantaged represented what is best in human beings: altruism, compassion, openness and generosity.

Our compatriots were abroad to spread hope, to simply do good.

***
Faced with these appalling gestures, we feel powerless. We seek to understand what is neither explicable nor justifiable.

Nothing can explain such cowardly, gratuitous acts. 

Nothing can explain this blind violence.

Nothing can explain why individuals who are contributing, with dedication, to building a better world are attacked.

This attack against them is also an attack against us.

***

We will never give in to these terrorists.

We will never willingly compromise our values of freedom, democracy and tolerance.

We will respond by preserving them because they are the best of what humanity has to offer, by individually and collectively displaying solidarity here and elsewhere in the world, by maintaining, for example, our commitment to the French-speaking world, everywhere where Quebecers seek to make a difference by bringing hope, now and in the future.

However, we will do so without illusions, naivety or compromise. These gestures also strengthen our determination to combat these barbarians with all of our might, alongside our allies.

Given the proliferation of these unspeakable attacks, I have given the Minister of International Relations a mandate to pursue collaboration with our international partners to combat radicalization. 

***

In memory of and as a sign of respect for the victims and everyone affected by these tragic events, the Québec flag is flying at half-mast on the central tower of the Parliament Building.

***

The flag is a sign of our strength, which stems from the unity of a people determined to continue to live together, above all during difficult times.

What unites us will also be stronger than what divides us.

***

The education sector in the Québec City region is especially affected by these tragic events.

To the staff and students of the École secondaire Jean-de-Brébeuf, the École secondaire Cardinal-Roy and the École Boudreau, our thoughts are with you at this trying time.

To the nuns of the Congrégation des sœurs de Notre-Dame du Perpétuel Secours, it was in your mission in Burkina Faso that the victims sought to do good. Like all of us, you are in a state of shock. We extend our sincerest condolences. 

To everyone, the spouses, children, brothers, sisters, children, grandchildren, friends, colleagues, co-workers, loved ones and friends of all of the victims of this senseless carnage, at this trying time, please accept in my own name and that of Suzanne, my wife, on behalf of the Québec nation, our deepest sympathy and affection.  

You loved them. I understand your pain, which all of Québec shares with you.

Thank you.


Online as of: January 18, 2016


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