Paris attacks: Albertans in France share their experiences
'I thought I was legit going to die," St. Albert man says
Albertans in Paris are still trying to come to terms with the attacks that left 129 dead and 99 critically injured on Friday.
"It weighs heavy on my mind," said Aaron Watkins. "I'm going to think about it for my whole life."
Watkins, originally from St. Albert, was at the soccer game at France's national stadium when the bombs went off. At the time, no one was sure what the sounds were though he noticed a sense of unease in the crowd.
At the end of the match, Watkins saw reports of attacks on Twitter and joined the crowds trying to leave the stadium. When he got to the gates, "pandemonium" struck and people started running for shelter, he said.
"It was like a stampede," Watkins said. "That was a point in my life I never had before. I thought I was legit going to die."
Edmontonian Kevin Baker was ordering his first drink in a nearby bar when the news broke. He said the bar owner shut down the music, locked the doors and turned on the TVs to watch the news.
He watched as patrons started texting and calling their friends and families.
Still patrons took some time to check on his well-being. Baker said he was the only person in the bar by himself and he was astonished by the compassion people showed towards him.
"That's pretty amazing actually," he said. "You're taking the time to go over and talk to a person that you don't know and wasn't even from your country."
Baker left Paris Saturday morning and is now in a village southwest of Paris. He is staying in France until the spring. Watkins says he is shaken by the attacks but is determined not to let them stop him from travelling.
"That's exactly what the terrorists want you to do," he said. "They want you to be afraid...and use the fear as power."
Memorials in Edmonton
In Alberta, Premier Rachel Notley announced Saturday that flags at the Alberta legislature have been lowered to honour the victims of the attacks.
Flags at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ableg?src=hash">#ableg</a> will be at half-mast until further notice, to mark the tragic events that took place yesterday in Paris.—@RachelNotley
The lights on the ATB building in Edmonton were lit red, blue and white, the colours of the French flag, on Friday night.
A small, impromptu vigil took place Friday evening in Churchill Square. Organizer Faustine Clement moved to Edmonton from Paris in August.
Her home is in the area where the attacks occurred so she wanted to show support for her native country.
"I feel more alone because I feel very far away," she said