The families of six Quebecers killed in a terrorist attack last month in Burkina Faso were joined by hundreds of people — including the prime minister — at funerals in Quebec City on Saturday.
So many people had gathered at the Très-Saint-Sacrement Church in Ste-Foy that mourners were left standing at the back, with dozens more spilling out onto the street.
Seven doves — one for each victim and one as a symbol of peace — were released following the ceremony.
The afternoon service was held for five of the victims. They included four members of the same family — Yves Carrier, 65, Gladys Chamberland, 54, their son Charles-Élie Carrier, 21, and Yves' daughter Maude, 37 — as well as a close family friend Louis Chabot, 53.
A private funeral was held in the morning for Suzanne Bernier, 66, at the Saint-Thomas-d'Aquin Church. That funeral also drew several hundred mourners.
The families of the victims were visibly moved by the number of people who turned out to pay their respects.
"It gives us courage," said Louise Carrier, Yves's sister. "It allows us to continue."
Trudeau attends funerals
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended both ceremonies. He was joined by a number of other Quebec politicians, including federal Families Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and the local member of Parliament, Joël Lightbound.
Quebec's minister of international relations, Christine St-Pierre, also took part in the ceremonies. She told reporters the Quebec government was helping the families by serving as a go-between with federal authorities.
All six victims were dining together in Burkina Faso's capital city of Ouagadougou last month when jihadist attackers linked to al-Qaeda stormed the Splendid Hotel and nearby Cappuccino Café.
They were among 30 people killed during a siege that lasted 12 hours.
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From Burkina Faso to Quebec City
Some of those who attended Saturday afternoon's joint funeral flew all the way from Burkina Faso.
Sister Ines Kolesnore met Yves Carrier on his first trip to the African nation almost a decade ago.
"We cared for each other and for me, accompanying them to their final resting place shows how much we loved each other," Kolesnore said.
Kolesnore and a bishop from Burkina Faso both spoke during the funeral this afternoon.
The Carrier family said that anyone who wishes to make a donation can give to Casira, a non-profit organization that does humanitarian work in developing nations, including Burkina Faso.
Some observers had speculated that Trudeau's presence at the funerals had the potential to be controversial.
About one week after the attacks, the husband of Maude Carrier hung up on Trudeau when the prime minister phoned him.
Yves Richard, the husband of Maude Carrier, told Montreal radio station 98.5 FM on Jan. 21 he was frustrated in the hours after the tragedy with what he called Global Affairs Canada's lack of tact and empathy.
"My prime minister called me and began speaking in such a canned manner, wishing me good luck, offering me his condolences and talking about them as a source of Canadian pride," he said.
"That's when I told him to stop his political blabbing. If he's going to call me, then at least he should know who the Carriers are. It wasn't out of Canadian pride that they were doing what they were doing, but rather because they were basically good people ... I hung up on him and it felt good."
An earlier version of this article said Joël Lightbound was a member of the National Assembly. In fact, he is a Member of Parliament.Feb 06, 2016 11:27 AM ET
An earlier version of this article said Jean-Yves Duclos was the Quebec family minister. In fact, he is the federal minister of families, children and social development.Feb 06, 2016 10:40 AM ET