Hundreds gathered to honour Denis Blanchette at a candlelight vigil and makeshift memorial outside Metropolis last Wednesday night.
As Premier-designate Pauline Marois gave her victory speech during the Parti Québécois rally on Tuesday, Sept. 4, Blanchette was shot at close range outside the building.
Those in attendance at the vigil were invited to share their thoughts and feelings and to remember the 48-year-old lighting technician at a microphone set-up in front of the venue. Many speeches called for harmony and peace, as well as tougher gun laws.
Friends and colleagues tearfully remembered Blanchette as a hard-working man, a loving father and a good friend.
One colleague, who was only identified as Marie-Jo, told the crowd that Blanchette’s death was not a political statement.
“This has nothing to do with politics,” shouted Marie-Jo. “The man who killed him is mentally ill.”
“We’ll overcome this together,” she added before stepping away from the microphone.
Former Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois attended the vigil to show his support for the victim’s family.
“It was very shocking,” Nadeau-Dubois said of the tragic end to election night. “We’ve talked a lot about violence in the past few months in Quebec but this was real violence. It’s possible to debate the strike, it’s possible to debate on what a protest should be, but there’s no debate to be had on the events that happened last night – it’s just total horror,” he said.
Concordia University marketing graduate Kim Belair was on Ste-Catherine St. when the shooting occurred. Belair said it was strange for her because her mother was present for the Concordia University massacre in 1992 and her cousin experienced the Dawson College shooting in 2006.
“I like to think that everyone involved, no matter what language they speak, would be able to look at that [shooting] as not representing an opinion but as representing mindless violence,” explained Belair with regards to the gunman’s words about an English uprising during his arrest.
“I optimistically think that no one would ever take his words or his intentions as representative of anything.”
A second victim, Dave Courage, survived the shooting but suffered severe injuries.
An official civic funeral for Blanchette was held on Monday, Sept. 10.
With files from Kalina Laframboise.