Paris attacks: Albertans in France share their experiences

Aaron Watkins from St. Albert and Kevin Baker from Edmonton were in Paris when the deadly attacks rolled out on Friday.

'I thought I was legit going to die," St. Albert man says

Albertan in Paris shares his experience during terror attacks

7 years ago
Duration 1:55
Aaron Watkins, from Edmonton, was in Paris when the attacks occurred on November 13.

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.

Kevin Baker was in a bar in central Paris when the attacks happened. (Skype )
"There was obviously a lot of distress, some people were crying, obviously upset," he said, adding that some knew people at the concert hall where 89 were killed.

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.

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